After placing his briefcase on the floor near the coach in the Oval Office, the President's ghost historian clicked on his tape recorder"
"Mr. President, you are not just devising a strategy to bring peace and sanity to 28 million Afghanis, are you?"
"No," he replied staring out through the Oval Office's glass doors.
"It's not just a strategy for 210 million Afghans and Pakistanis, is it?"
"How much bigger are you thinking your strategy must be?"
"To the east and the west of the five 'stans' lies South and East Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia" teaming with about 1 billion Muslims," the President replies as he looks beyond the Marine guard standing outside his doors.
"Are you contemplating sending enough soldiers to control 1 billion Muslims?"
"No" for sure we'd lose that kind of war, our economy, and our world stature. It would end the American ideal."
"What then are you contemplating or, as your critics are now saying, 'What are you dithering about?'"
"Dithering... hum" I'm dithering over how to win billions of hearts and minds, while losing the fewest soldiers and civilians. Dithering about how to win at 21st century warfare."
"Drawn any conclusions yet?"
"Sure. Better information, more certain targets, more drones, more special forces... Our field strategy must show the world that we know that we can't kill our way to victory. In the process, we have to walk and pave roads that lead to peace, which is victory."
"How do you do that when your supply lines are 12,000 miles away, your economy is tanking, your people are tiring of warring, your troops are stretched thin, and it's difficult to know who your enemies are?"
The president turns, looks at me, and asks, "Do you think this is another Vietnam quagmire?"
"Halberstam picked the right word. It was a quagmire. Torching a lot of little innocent brown people, losing almost 60,000 American lives, dumping $500 billion, so we could trade with a dangerous, falling little Vietnam domino 30 years later."
"I asked if you thought we are doing that again," repeated the President.