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President Obama prepares to “finish the job” and follow Lyndon Johnson into history

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President Barack Obama has just signaled that he intends to "finish the job" in Afghanistan by adding more troops. If he follows through on this decision he will severely wound his presidency. His decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, directly in opposition to the majority of Americans, will see him follow President Lyndon Johnson into history.

In an ironic twist to this scenario, Mr. Obama will announce the increase in troops on December 1st and, then two weeks later, he will fly to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. That will be an event unprecedented in history. By his expansion of war, he has chosen not to follow in the footsteps of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and other promoters of peace but, rather, those of President Johnson.

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Here is a man who had the opportunity of a lifetime to make a place in history as one of the greatest American presidents; an opportunity to begin a transformation of this nation by showing moral courage and conviction in leading our country in a new direction, forsaking the doctrine of wars with no end.

In his message, November 24, 2009, he stated, "I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive." If that is what he truly thinks, that Americans will once again let themselves be duped into supporting another misguided, disastrous war, then he needs to think more deeply.

Does he not understand that Americans are now completely worn out by the never-ending war mentality that has led us into the wars and occupations in both Afghanistan and Iraq? Is he not the least bit aware that the astronomical costs of these two wars are bringing America ever closer to economic collapse?

America has now endured eight years of war in a largely barren, mountainous country; a country that has been invaded by major world powers over centuries and has defeated and expelled every one of them, including Russia in 1989. What is it about that "graveyard of empires" that he still doesn't understand?

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It would take a truly exceptional leader with an iron will and fearless courage to confront the military leaders and tell them that, as Commander in Chief, he will no longer promote a war with no clear mission, no clear purpose. The President of the United States is the leader of our nation and he is not to take orders from the military, but to give issue them and expect them to be followed.

Two events in history show distinct contrasts between U.S. presidents. When General MacArthur defied President Truman during the Korean War and attempted to pressure him to bomb Communist Chinese bases north of the Yalu River, Truman wasted no time and fired MacArthur. During the Vietnam War, when General Westmoreland demanded thousands upon thousands of more troops, Lyndon Johnson agonized over the decisions but caved in each and every time; and his decisions served to destroy his presidency.

So, with the impending decision by our president, Americans can look forward to years more of involvement in that quagmire. More and more troops will die for a mission that has yet to be identified. More and more innocent civilians will die as the deadly missiles fired from Predator and Raptor drones at the insurgents will also claim many of them.

President Obama and his advisers made it a point to read several books that documented the events and the decisions made during the Vietnam War. Reading the historical accounts of that disastrous war that caused the deaths of 58,000 U.S. troops and over 2 million Vietnamese, one would have to conclude that it was a terrible mistake. But yet, after reading those books, our president and his advisers apparently have still not learned from history and are in the process of making the same mistakes.

If Mr. Obama undertakes this escalation here is what could very well happen. The liberal left and the progressives in the Democratic Party, as well as millions of independents, will be infuriated; they will not take it lightly and he could pay a terrible price. His presidency will be severely damaged. Yes, he will still occupy the White House for just over three more years. His chances of reelection will go up in smoke and his agenda will be ignored.

With the escalation in Afghanistan there will come a further escalation and intrusion into Pakistan. While there have been serious problems in Pakistan, mainly involving its confrontations with India, they have certainly been magnified immensely since the inception of our military actions in that region in 2001. Polls taken in Pakistan have repeatedly shown that the Pakistani people identify the U.S. as the greatest danger their nation faces.

Mr. Obama intends to speak to the American people on December 1st to explain the reasons for his actions, clarify the mission and, thereby, gain the support of the nation. But, war-weary Americans no longer want to go in that direction; they want to go in new directions that will rebuild and restore the American economy and repair our severely damaged infrastructure.

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With such a decision the GOP will offer congratulations and laud Mr. Obama. But as his Democratic and independent base deserts him, the Republicans will put their agenda to bring him down into full gear and prepare to regain power in 2010 and 2012. The president will succeed in alienating both political parties in America.

Mr. President: we have a myriad of problems here in America that need to be addressed and solved; jobs, the economy, health care, poverty, crime, trade deficits, to name a few. Those hundreds of billions of dollars are needed here, not in Afghanistan.

Finish the job here in America.

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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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