For those who are interested, I didn't listen live, as I was at the Kristin Ross-Sitcawich fund raiser at Heritage Farms. As they say down in Boston, all politics is local.
Reporter Carl Prine lays out five points for us:
- So what?
- Obama’s cuts do nothing to really address pacification.
- It does nothing to really address our Karzai kleptocracy problem.
- Over the next two years (Thieu years?), expect to see continuation of our 21st century Accelerated Pacification Program.
- Despite Obama’s latest waffling, he still hasn’t squared the domestic political problem with reality in Afghanistan, and that might ruin his legacy.
Expect today’s generals and Obama to continue to echo Ellsworth Bunker, the ambassador who kept insisting to Lyndon Johnson throughout 1968 that he was “optimistic” about the “steady, though not spectacular progress I have previously noted has continued and accelerated,” to the point that the “tide of history now seems to be moving with us and not against us.”Due to not fully understanding Facebook I "liked" this article at Carl Prine's blog and someone then commented on my Facebook page and I had to track it all down. So, I quote the comment:
Well, tides ebb and they flow. They wash great men and small, lift all boats and sink some, run shallow and deep into every harbor and sound, depending on the hour.
So also wash the forces of history. Obama is not so rocky a jetty to withstand the relentless tides of the oceans of war he has cast us, a nation of driftwood deaf to the speeches presidents say.
As befell Johnson, Obama’s legacy shall drown in these vast seas of blood, a reputation knocking against the shoals of history like a dead cat caught in the surf, gulls wheeling and cackling at our folly, the fish of the bottoms feeding on it.
It's always bothered me to see Johnson held ultimately accountable for JFK's war-mongering, as with the parting shot here. Nothing is ever that simple, and this mess not least. This is not to excuse Johnson for holding the bag with the cat in it for so long, nor Obama for being one of the worst abusers of martial power in the history of this country, but to lament that JFK and Dubya will likely never carry as much blame as they deserve for designing the policy that undid their successor. (Though Dubya will undoubtedly get more than the teflon JFK). Ah, the cult of personality...Just the other day I was thinking about how JFK gets the teflon treatment. It is, however, a cultural elite tick we have to deal with. The "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" was LBJ's. There are those who argue that after the 1964 election JFK would have wound it down. Frankly, I doubt it. I will say, in Dubya's defense, that he did take the time to check in with the people on Capitol Hill.
But, yes, those who have to clean up the mess, and in Obama's case he volunteered for the job, have that clean up as part of their job description. It happens in industry also—one manager leaves and another comes in and has to actually finish the project and ship it.
That said, LBJ is a tragic figure in that he did so much and hoped to do so much, but yet was associated with bad decisions while trying to do good. Viet-nam was one of them and the Great Society was the other.
Regards — Cliff