Saturday, July 11, 2009

#126 Obama's War III--McNamara's Ghost

He's dead, and he's had to writhe in his guilt for half of his 93 years--just watch the Errol Morris documentary, Fog of War (2003--where he looks positively ghost-worthy). Punishment enough? Hell no. In our grad-school bull-sessions of the late Sixties and early Seventies we wanted to pointedly HANG Robert McNamara and his people for war-crimes (a la Nuremberg) committed against the people of Southeast Asia, America , and hell yes ... Humanity.

Okay ... McNamara top of the list ... Dean Rusk, Walt Rostow, the Bundy brothers [all household names in those days]. Hunt 'em down; string 'em up. LBJ probably out of reach ... death's door anyway ... JFK already dead ... had something to prove after Bay of Pigs ... hey, Karma, man ... he sort of paid for getting us into Vietnam--killed same month after the Diem brothers' assassinations [bull-session straight talk]. But listen, if Nixon doesn't get our asses out as promised--time's running out--we'll haul his ass in, along with Melvin Laird and all those other guys.

They all got away scot-free. McNamara was awarded a distinguished career as head of the World Bank. Nixon went ahead and killed another 30.000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians as he expanded the war ... only to be stopped by Watergate. President Obama is dangerously close to becoming another Nixon, if not an LBJ. As he expands the conflict from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan (thereby further destabilizing all the rest of the volatile Middle East), his policies invoke the spectral images of Vietnam.

At the risk oversimplifying--but listen, the Blogman went through those long frustrating years until that Hip-Hip-over-the-radio-top-down-speeding-along-the-highway-open-beer-can-HooRay! day, 30 April 1975, when it was announced that the last Marines escaped by helicopter off the US Embassy building in Saigon--some strong and straight-up words need to be spoken:

  • They dare not call it "Iraqization," but the Obama brand of troop "withdrawal"--turning over the war to Iraqi forces when "ready" (beginning with the bogus Day of Sovereignty a couple of weeks ago)--rehashes Nixon's "Vietnamization" strategy that went on for about as long as the our entire Iraq War. After all, it only took fifteen years of American presence in Vietnam for ARVN to be ready enough to be easily overrun by Northern armies.
  • The new escalation in Afghanistan replicates LBJ/Nixon's "search-and-destroy" and "pacification" (Orwell-speak for blowing up villages). Find the Taliban/al Quaeda strongholds; attack with ground troops; fail; call in air support; bomb everybody. Except the "enemy," who will slip away to fight again from desert caves (or the tunnel-bunkers of Vietnam).
  • But now we've got a new weapon against innocent civilians: the DRONE (robot-plane) BOMBER. Can't have American ground-troops in Pakistan, officially/technically, so let's just attack by remote-control. I wonder if there's much chance of "collateral damage" in that.
The ghost of McNamara stalks. MSNBC headline just today: U.S. Commander: Afghan Forces Insufficient--Obama strategy may need more funds, U.S. troops, say military officials. "General Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly arrived top commander in Afghanistan, has concluded that ... if President Obama's [time-warp alert] WINNING THE WAR is to succeed ... [it] would require spending billions more ... and the likely deployment of of thousands more U.S. troops ..." [emphasis and ellipses mine]

And so it goes, Billy Pilgrim ...

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