Our week runneth over. The President of late-nite talk, David Letterman, confesses to past sexual adventures shortly after his interview with fellow-sportsman President Clinton; President Obama recognizes the sixtieth anniversary of Red China, while ignoring the ninth anniversary of the Afghan War; college students demonstrate against that war right here in Raleigh; and several old gentlemen in Oslo, Norway try to manipulate world-affairs by giving a Swedish peace-prize to the leader of the most powerful, and lately the most bellicose, country on earth.
Will their devious plan work? I hope so, but there has been so much unexpected and disheartening "Bush-speak" coming out of the White House lately--"Troop-reduction in Afghanistan is extremely unlikely" ... "Draw-down is effectively off-the-table" etc. Whence all this uncharacteristic arrogance? ... I'd like to know.
I'll put my money on student protesters, and lately on the American people--60% are now anti-war--to turn the heads of the power-brokers in Washington. And let's hope, too, that the students make their demonstrations more than an anniversary event. At the height of the Vietnam War they were out there every day on Pennsylvania Avenue, and everywhere else across the country on a regular basis. It got deadly at Kent State U. on May 4, 1970, as the Pulitzer-Prize-winning news-photo above most famously shows. Student groups organized a huge publicity campaign calling for a national one-day boycott of classes for the very next week to commemorate the event. I was a Teaching Fellow at Vanderbilt at the time. About half the regular faculty took attendance on that day; half didn't. A small "radical" percentage made it clear that their classes were canceled. Pretty much a microcosm of the mood of the country at the time. No surprise: the student-teacher hybrids, like me, supported the boycott almost to a man and woman--we either took no attendance in our classes ... or took off altogether to the picket line.
The boiling point was reached in May 1970 because of CAMBODIA = Obama's PAKISTAN. The only real difference is that Nixon had kept his aerial incursion into a "neutral" country secret. Once he revealed the fact that the over-the-border bombing had been going on for months--in the face of all his pre- and post-election lies about "a plan to end the war"--the college campuses exploded. And so, tragically, did the Ohio National Guard, in the case above.
Look at these parallel configurations, too ominous to ignore:
THREE COUNTRIES--first Vietnam, then the invasion of Laos, then the carpet bombing of Cambodia. But the Ho Chi Min Trail with its tributaries and tunnels led everywhere, anywhere, and underwhere--analogous to the caves and crannies of Afghanistan. And the supply of people to man them grew daily, no matter how many bombs were dropped--in fact: the more bombs = the more people. Newsflash: we didn't win that war.
THREE COUNTRIES--forth and back in Iraq, to and fro in Afghanistan, and then the drone-bombing in Pakistan, which has intensified. Gen. William McCrystal, speaking for the ghost of Gen.William Westmoreland, asks for 40,000 more troops, on top of the 21,000 Obama has already deployed. Where is all this cannon-fodder destined to go? Into Pakistan, of course. That smacks of a slippery-slope fallacy, I know, but I'll let it stand. For there really is no Afghan/Pakistan "border" anyway, at least for those straddling it. Just as it was in Southeast Asia, tribal and ethnic boundaries in the Middle East are more important. In the case of Afghan/Pakistan, the fearsome Pashtuns call the vast and forbidding territory overlapping both nations their ancestral home, and they don't need no stinkin' badges.
The more combat troops, the more piloted air-strikes, the more drone-bombing--no matter--all the more virulent and widespread the insurgency will become. And all the more looking like Vietnam. Get out while you can Obama; don't give college students the opportunity make up nasty LBJ-like chants about a Nobel laureate. So uncool.