In November 1963, after President JFK’s life ended tragically in Dallas, Texas, his V.P., Lyndon Baines Johnson, became president. The Vietnam War was already under way, although it was still referred to as a conflict, for JFK had been sending “advisors” with machine guns there for nearly two years.
Nine months after assuming the presidency, Johnson faced an escalation in the war via the Gulf of Tonkin incident. One of our ships was attacked off the coast of North Vietnam and Johnson declared war, eventually placing more than 530,000 American troops in Vietnam at one time in order to ply the jungles, rivers, and skies over that country in search of North Vietnamese, Viet Minh, and Viet Cong.
Although it sounds like Johnson was pretty aggressive with the enemy, the truth is he made back door deals with North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, wherein he promised not to send our Air Force on bombing campaigns over North Vietnam. Moreover, he agreed that certain buildings and ancient cities in North Vietnam were completely off limits to our troops: which meant North Vietnamese soldiers, or guerilla fighters in the Viet Cong and Viet Minh, could use those buildings and ancient cities as safe havens from U.S. forces.
And Johnson could insure these agreements weren’t violated because he took it upon himself to call the shots in Vietnam (rather than letting the military brass handle the situation). After all, Johnson had a domestic agenda – “the Great Society” – that he wanted to put in place, and he couldn’t afford to let a war in Vietnam get in the way of the legacy he hoped domestic success could bring.
By the way, largely as a result of Johnson’s decision to call the shots, we lost the war in the Vietnam. That’s right – we lost.
(Talk to a Vietnam vet who was on the ground in Vietnam while Johnson was president and odds are, he’ll get tears in his eyes and say: “If they would have just let us fight, we could have won.”)
But Johnson didn’t desire to win. He simply desired to be sure Vietnam didn’t get in the way of what he was trying to do stateside.
More than 58,000 Americans died in that war, as they fought battles of attrition against an enemy whom they weren’t allowed to fully engage.
Enter June 2011. We’ve been in Afghanistan 10 years, and President Obama is afraid he’s not going to be re-elected if the war keeps absorbing people’s attention. Therefore, even though the Pentagon, General David Petraeus, and Speaker Boehner have asked him not pull out our troops precipitously, Obama announced a pullout of 33,000 troops in a televised address to Congress on June 23, 2011.
Like Johnson, he has inserted himself between the troops and their commanders, and is making decisions based on political expediency rather than a determination to win the war in which we’re engaged. In so doing, he has proven to be just another politician who fits under General Patton’s apt description of one who doesn’t “know anything more about real battle, than [he] does about fornicating.”
In defending Obama’s decision to pull out the troops, his little spokesman Jay Carney said: “He is in charge of this process, and he makes the decision.”
Okay Jay, have it your way. If Obama wants to play big man on campus and call the shots; if he wants to take this war out of the hands of military commanders and presume to orchestrate the outcome himself; then come November 2012, we’ll not only hold fuel prices, food prices, high unemployment, the lousy housing market, and our skyrocketing debt against him when we head to the polls, but we’ll also hold a loss in Afghanistan against him too.