Is Obama Following LBJ’s Path To Defeat?

September 28th, 2009


I was born in 1952, making me old enough to vividly remember Viet Nam. 

When I joined the Air Force in 1974 all of the instructors and supervisors I had were combat veterans of South East Asia.

Words cannot convey their bitter frustration with the civilian leadership during that conflict.  President Johnson and the incompetent SecDef McNamara feared adverse headlines worse than they feared losing American lives.  They lacked the will to win, and also lacked the courage to withdraw.  The LBJ administration could not have chosen a more disastrous path for war they inherited than the one they followed. 


lbj obama


It’s my perception that President Obama is now going down LBJ’s path to disaster.   His recent change in the rules of engagement in Afghanistan hugely restricts indirect artillery and close air support to American forces engaged by the Taliban.  This very LBJ-like decision trades American military lives for fewer unfavorable headlines. 

President Obama campaigned on the theme that Afghanistan was the ‘good war’.  On the rare occasions when he mentions Afghanistan it is usually in the context of telling us what President Bush did wrong, with little or nothing about what he plans to do in the future.  Like LBJ, he has ruled out victory as an option, babbling something about the Emperor of Japan surrendering on the deck of the Missouri.  Which of course serves to show how little he knows of American history beyond what he learned from Preacher Wright and his colleague Bill Ayers. 

I’ve been thinking about Afghanistan a lot because my son, a Texas Guardsman, came back from his tour in Iraq in April.  He’s been told to expect to deploy to Afghanistan in a year or two.  If he’s need to help win he should go. If he is being sent because the Administration doesn’t think victory is possible but is afraid to cut and run then I don’t think he should be sent at all. 

This post, my first since April, was directly precipitated by a highly insightful blog post by The Skipper.  

Captain Lex posses a tough challenge to the Commander-in-Chief:

He’s got to believe it’s possible to forge something like a victory, and that the cost of doing so is less than the consequences of outright retreat and failure. He’s got to commit not just forces, but his presidency.

If he can’t – if in the depths of his soul he can’t – then he would be right to ditch the whole project before any more damage is done, before even one more soldier or Marine dies in a cause their commander in chief does not believe in. He can even blame it on Bush, if that gets him through the night.

It’s a tough place to be for a 47-year old half term Senator with a background in community organizing. But this is the job he fought for, and these are the choices he faces.

But he needs to remember that he’s not facing them alone. That his actions – and even his inaction – has consequences

It’s time to man up and pull the trigger, Mr. President. One way or the other.

3 comments to “Is Obama Following LBJ’s Path To Defeat?”

  1. Well said Jim. I remember the LBJ fiasco quite well and was thinking the same thing about this one. I hope he listens to his advisors.

  2. The very night before I was to board the silver tube with wings to go to Viet Nam I watched the evening news as LBJ called a “good faith” halt to bombing of the “Ho Chi Minh” trail. We all know how that turned out.
    I resent the fact that too many people from my flight school class are no longer with us because of faulty leadership.
    History can be a bitch.
    Get your nose in the history book Mr. President.

  3. The problem is that these guys don’t know how to fight. They bring so much baggage from their political/philosophical past that they can’t just put the books down and start swinging. Everything’s got to be analyzed through their prism of “mankind’s basically good and wants to do right” … “if we can just sit down with them and let them know that we feel their pain … and find out why they do what they do … they will put their arms down and return to their fields to plow the soil.” BS! There are evil people in this world who are hell bent to get us under their thumb, or to kill us if they can’t. And we MUST go to where they’re hiding, root them out and kill them. It’s as simple as that.

    It’s ridiculous that a country with our means, won’t field a military force that can overwhelm any opponent. We’ve “short-sheeted” this war for far too long; not providing our on-ground commanders with the size of force needed to fight, police, and nation-build. How many of our troops have been killed due to this gross failure of leadership??