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From Twin Towers to Twin Camelots

From Twin Towers to Twin Camelots

The world falls in love with acharismatic young president, hisstylish wife and their charming youngchildren. In the campaign for thepresidency, he defeated his opponentin part by charging Republican failurein the war against America’s enemies.In the dawn of his administration,this Harvard man musters strategicbuttress from intellectuals bunkeredin think tanks and academe, for adecisive escalation by which the foewill be routed. Counterinsurgency willgo hand in hand with nation building.Corruption will be banished and localtroops trained to shoulder the burdenof the war.To be sure, there are differencesbetween Jack Kennedy’s America in1961 and Barack Obama’s in 2009. Atthe start of the ´60s, the US economyin its productive phase hadn’t crested.It was still on the way up to its peakin about 1969. The mantra was “gunsand butter.” In 1961, the best andthe brightest, defeating Vietnameseguerillas in their Top Secret memosto Kennedy and his commanders,invoked Britain’s defeat of theCommunist insurgency in Malaya,courtesy of FrankKitson’s supposedcounterinsurgencytactics andAmerica’s victoryover the Huks inthe Philippines,with EdwardLansdale claimingthe achievement.In 2009, veterans’hospitals hereoffer bleak testimony that in Iraq,150,000 US troops, lavishly equippedwith advanced weaponry, were helddown for years in Iraq by the guerillas’rudimentary curbside explosives.Woe betide a president who believeshis own stump speeches. In hiscampaign, Obama outflanked chargesinitially from Hillary Clinton andthen from John McCain that he wasa peacenik and a wimp by declaringweek after week that Iraq was thewrong battlefield, that the enemywas al-Qaida and their sanctuaryAfghanistan. An excited vibrancycolored the community organizer’srhetoric as he spoke of hisdetermination to “kill binLaden.”Most people thought thispledge would get lobbed intothe trashcan the momentMcCain conceded. But no.On April 3, I drove downInterstate 5 through the earlyspring blossom in Oregon’sWillamette Valley, listeningto Obama on the radiomarching through his schedule forescalation and victory in Afghanistan.He was born in the year JFK becamepresident, but has this supposedlysmart fellow not read a single decenthistory of the Vietnam War and ofAmerica’s defeat? Apparently not.Otherwise, how could he blithelyannounce that “We will accelerateour efforts to build an Afghan Army of134,000 and a police force of 82,000 sothat we can meet these goals by 2011….Going forward, we will not blindlyContinued on page 24

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