Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
2 comments
   
OpEdNews Op Eds

'Giant' Holbrooke Failed on Afghan War

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 4 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Funny 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H2 12/14/10
Become a Fan
  (135 fans)

opednews.com

This piece was reprinted by OpEdNews with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

From Consortium News

President Barack Obama hailed Richard Holbrooke, who died Monday, as "one of the giants of American foreign policy." The President's kudos reflected the Establishment gravitas that Holbrooke, the special envoy overseeing U.S. policies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, had acquired in his long career -- fact and reason to the contrary.

Apologies to those who think it is boorish to speak in anything but the most glowing terms of dead "giants." In this case, however, the stakes are so high that it will dishonor all those at risk, if we yield to convenient convention.

There will be many more dead and wounded in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the time you read this. Sadly, Holbrooke is one of the Establishment "giants" responsible.

The esteemed Holbrooke, who died from a ruptured aorta at the age of 69, has already garnered much praise and attention. Do those to be killed and wounded today in "Af-Pak" -- many much closer to the beginning of their lives -- also merit some mention?

To paraphrase what Arthur Miller says of his simple salesman, such people can be just as exhausted -- just as dead -- as giants. The "small" must not be allowed to fall into the grave like old dogs. Attention, attention must finally be paid.

"Bulldozers" (the Establishment's admiring word for bullies and one of Holbrooke's favorite nicknames) must not be allowed to push dirt onto those graves and cover them up, as though they do not matter.

The "giant" term also recalls images from the past -- ironic ones. On April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon justified invading Cambodia with these words:

"If, when the chips are down, the world's most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world."

With all the drama he could muster, Nixon warned, "It is not our power but our will and character that is being tested tonight. The question all Americans must ask and answer tonight is this: Does the richest and strongest nation in the history of the world have the character to meet a direct challenge by a group which rejects every effort to win a just peace?"

And so the American "bulldozer" invaded Cambodia. And we know how that turned out. Nixon failed to defeat the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong but did destabilize Cambodia, opening the door for a victory several years later by the ruthless Khmer Rouge.

After Nixon's invasion of Cambodia, as massive anti-war protests swept across the United States, his image of a powerful giant faded into a pitiable Gulliver, tied down into helplessness by millions of "small" Vietnamese and "small" Americans, too. It is a safe bet that the Afghans are now collecting the rope needed for a similar feat.

Witness to a Debacle

Richard Holbrooke should have had an even clearer recollection of the Vietnam debacle than most Americans. He watched much of it unfold firsthand but apparently never protested the folly, at least not strenuously enough to damage his career advancement.

Holbrooke was a history major at Brown in April 1961, when President John Kennedy received a fateful warning from Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The then-retired general, who had commanded U.S. forces in the Pacific during World War II and battled the Chinese in the Korean War, warned Kennedy: "Anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland of Asia should have his head examined."

When younger active-duty military commanders suggested that cowardice was behind Kennedy's decision to pursue negotiations rather than send reinforcements into a civil war in Laos, the young President would tell them to go convince Gen. MacArthur first.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4

 

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

What's Hayden Hidin'?

Asylum for Julian Assange -- Former Awardee for Integrity

Petraeus Cons Obama on Afghan War

Obama Stands Up to Israel, Tamps Down Iran War Threats

Mullen Wary of Israeli Attack on Iran

Note to Nancy Pelosi: Colin Powell Got Snookered at CIA, too

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I am very sorry to learn that Richard Holbrooke... by John Smith on Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010 at 7:43:55 PM
"De mortuis nihil nisi bene" So I have nothing to ... by BFalcon on Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 at 8:26:07 PM