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Didn’t Obama Study History at Harvard?

Editorial by Al Neuharth, founder of USA TODAY.

President Obama is very smart about many things. He was a brilliant scholar at Harvard. But he apparently hasn't learned history.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson also was very good at many things. But he, too, lacked an understanding of history.

Johnson inherited the Vietnam War. He didn't know how to get out. So he just gave generals the more troops they always want. Vietnam became his albatross and cost him a second full term.

Obama inherited the Afghanistan war. It was a necessary war when President George W. Bush went after Osama bin Laden and his gang there following 9/11. But when they escaped to Pakistan, Afghanistan became an unnecessary war.

Now Obama, at the customary request of military generals, is sending more troops there to "finish the job." So it's his war. And his albatross.

With bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders gone, our troops are getting injured or killed trying to police ungovernable Afghans. We even help them grow more poppies to make more opium to sell in more places to finance more terrorism.

If Obama understood history, he'd understand this:

Great Britain tried to help "govern" Afghanistan last century, failed and left.

Russia (then the USSR) left after nine unsuccessful years in Afghanistan in the 1980s with more than 14,000 Soviet soldiers killed.

We could better protect our country against terrorists from Afghanistan and elsewhere with improved policing at all our major airports, harbors, borders. That's where our properly named "National Guard" men and women should be guarding us.

If Obama doesn't get it and get us out of Afghanistan sooner rather than later, it will cost him a second term, a la LBJ. That would be a shame for a president who has so much promise.


"There are similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan - weak, corrupt central governments and open borders. At least there was a stable political entity to fill the vacuum when the U.S. exited Vietnam."
--- Randall Woods, author, "LBJ: Architect of American Ambition‥"

"Setting limited goals, a withdrawal date and getting international support ensures that Afghanistan won't be Obama's Vietnam, or a repeat of Britain and Russia's experiences."
--- Lawrence Korb, senior fellow, American ProgressPlain Talk

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