Sunday, May 15, 2011

Folly part 2. Obama's War

Parts four and five of Barbara Tuchman’s March of Folly deal with British folly leading up to and through the U.S. Revolution and U.S. folly leading up to and through the Vietnam War. The cases are, folly-wise, very similar. In both instances there were those pointing out that costs would far outweigh any possible gains and that the justifications for policy were specious. Some of those pointing this out still supported the folly, in Britain’s case refusing to allow democracy in the colonies and going to war and in the U.S. instance, well… the same.

In the U.S. case public rhetoric was of the “freedom and democracy” line we all know so well when in fact democracy was thwarted at every turn, from rigging elections, coups and murder to ignoring overwhelming Vietnamese desire for an end to war regardless of which party would be the victor (see Daniel Ellsberg’s memoir, Secrets). Johnson would proclaim on national television, in his best Texas accent, “We’re not goin to turn tail and run.” Well “we” eventually did but way too many lives later, way too many barrels of agent orange and land mines, still plaguing the country I understand. According to The Pentagon Papers, released by the true patriot Ellsberg, the country was temporarily divided into north and south after the French defeat. The Geneva Accords called for elections to unify the country but since the U.S. didn’t approve of the most popular candidate, Ho Chi Mihn, elections were scuttled. So the “democracy” we were supposedly fighting for was at hand from day one. It wasn’t the evil Communists who scuttled it but those speaking most loudly, out of both sides of their mouths, about falling dominoes and the threat of tyranny etc;

Apparently the Obama Administration read neither The Pentagon Papers nor The March of Folly for in the very first meeting to discuss Afghanistan, according to Woodward’s book, Obama’s War, the President opened the meeting with the question, “Does anyone want to get out? (of Afghanistan)” Silence. Obama’s next comment was, “So, we’re done with that.” Even if you didn’t agree that we should get out (turn tail and run?) you would think it deserved a little more discussion that that. But then that’s how folly marches on.

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