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Will President Obama Dig a Deeper Hole in the Graveyard of Empires?

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Someday we may have an American president that has the ability to learn from history. Barack Obama has a chance to do just that in the most critical test of his presidency. He has a clear choice; he can take this tremendous opportunity to turn America in a new direction, away from its deeply ingrained war mentality; or he can completely fail this great test by leading this nation into a massive quagmire.

By now the location of that graveyard of empires is widely known; it is, of course, Afghanistan. You know, it's that country in which we American taxpayers have been depositing hundreds of billions of our hard-earned dollars; yes, dollars that are desperately needed here in America to restore our economy. Unfortunately, the return on our investment in Afghanistan is zero, no interest, only death and destruction.

That barren, mountainous country that has expelled five great invading powers from its borders, from Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., to the Mongols, the British (twice) to Russia in the 1980,s, is now preparing a place for the latest nation to occupy it; the United States of America.

There's an old saying "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Let's use an analogy to illustrate the magnitude of the issue on which he must make a decision. During the Vietnam War Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was preparing a major speech on defense policy and when asked by President Lyndon Johnson as to what he was going to say about Vietnam, McNamara said, "the problem is just what to say about it."

Johnson said, "I'll tell you what to say. Say that we have a commitment to the freedom of the Vietnamese. We could pull out of there; the dominoes would fall and that part of the world would go to the Communists. Nobody really understands what is out there. Our purpose is to train the South Vietnamese people, and our training's going real good."

Now let's take that exact quote, change the main characters' names, reverse the roles and see what we get. In this case let's say its Obama preparing a speech about the Afghan war and asking Defense Secretary Gates for advice.

Defense Secretary Gates says to Obama, "I'll tell you what to say about it. Say that we have a commitment to the freedom of the Afghan people. We could pull out of there; the dominoes would fall and that part of the world would go to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Nobody really understands what is out there. Our purpose is to train the Afghan military and police, and our training's going real good."

In another historical military scenario Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser under President Carter, initiated a plan to trap Russia into its own "Vietnam debacle" by baiting them into invading Afghanistan in 1979, and he actually pulled it off.

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That war in was between the forces of the Soviet Union and the various Islamic tribes of Afghanistan, many the same tribes fighting against the U.S. now, who we call insurgents and the Taliban. That war began in 1979 and ended in 1989. About 15,000 Soviet troops were killed and about 35,000 wounded. About 1 million Afghans were killed. In the end the Russians were forced to give up the fight and leave the country.

Of major significance is the fact that, during that war, the insurgent troops received help from many countries; primarily from the U.S., but also from the United Kingdom, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Is what we are witnessing today with the large U.S. involvement de'jà vu all over again, or is this a replay of a movie that we have seen before?

Does anyone think that it just may be possible that in the Afghan scenario of today that Russia, China and any number of other countries may be secretly supporting the insurgents with arms and funds? Could it be possible that we have fallen into a trap just like the one Russia was drawn into in 1979? The Taliban is getting stronger and is using more sophisticated weapons. It is getting hundreds of new recruits from surrounding countries. It is not alone in its goal to drive us out of their country.

Our troops in Afghanistan, just like the Russians in the 1980's, are faced with a near impossible situation in that barren, mountainous country. The roads, if you can even call them that, are ideal for planting very deadly improvised explosive devices, (IED's) that are responsible for a large part of our troops killed and wounded. The Afghan men working in the fields or in the nearby villages who appear friendly are quite likely to try to destroy the troops during the night. This is like Iraq, but much, much more difficult and dangerous.

Is America going to go down in history as the latest occupying power to get trapped in that graveyard of empires? Will Barack Obama choose to follow in the historical footsteps of Lyndon Johnson who saw his presidency destroyed because he could not find the courage and conviction to free our nation from the quagmire of Vietnam?

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Barack Obama will move America ever closer to economic collapse if he continues to escalate the Afghan war. He apparently has no intention of reducing the trillion dollar annual military budget. Pouring more and more resources into the Afghan quagmire will just create more death and destruction. By refusing to redirect a sizable portion of this gargantuan budget into rebuilding our manufacturing foundation and restoring our economy it will bring America to eventual bankruptcy.

If Mr. Obama once again merely accedes to the generals he will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not worthy of the Noble Peace Prize. He will fail to rise to the occasion and act in the best interests of the people of America and the world. His actions will result in thousands more U.S. troops and Afghan civilians losing their lives because he did what was politically correct, to show how strong a leader he is.

He will also guarantee that he will be a one-term president because he will lose the support of masses of liberals and progressives, those who voted for real change and now are witnessing a president who cannot stand up to the powerful military establishment.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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