"Unwinnable": JFK advisor declares defeat in Afghanistan

Even the rhetoric today is familiar—the dire warnings that an American loss would embolden our enemies and lead to a “domino effect” chain of setbacks across the region; that we must keep on sending fresh troops to kill or be killed, thereby expanding both America’s mission and stakes, even though Obama had no more initiated America’s role in Afghanistan than Kennedy initiated America’s role in South Vietnam. There was little the U.S. could do to stop the flow of arms and enemy combatants into South Vietnam across its porous border with North Vietnam, just as there is little the U.S. can do now to stem the flow of arms and enemy combatants pouring across Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan…

America’s national security, much less its way of life, was never at stake in Vietnam, thousands of miles from our shores, nor is it in Afghanistan. U.S. leaders say we must win to establish sufficient control in Afghanistan to prevent our enemies from ever again meeting to plan, plot, and train anywhere in that vast, ungovernable country. Every bomb we drop, antagonizing more civilians, makes that goal more unrealizable. The main al Qaeda forces have already left Afghanistan—why haven’t we? The cost of Afghanistan in American lives and dollars has steadily risen to the point where the American people, as LBJ discovered regarding Vietnam, want no more. I erred in predicting at the outset of this essay that Afghanistan could become, in the future, Obama’s Vietnam. If hawkish advisers prevail, that will quickly become true.