Lacking a politically viable way to extricate the U.S., and his personal political fortunes, from Vietnam, Johnson instead pursued a doomed strategy of insufficient resources to achieve victory. While politically expedient in a tactical sense, Johnson’s conduct of the war ultimately doomed both the war and his own presidency. Last November, with the Johnson presidency in mind, I penned “An Exit Strategy to Die For.” In that column, I argued that we are better off bringing our troops home now than to ask them to risk their lives fighting for time until July 2011 rolls around and a politically expedient withdrawal commences.
Over the last year, events have persuaded me that this view remains correct. The coalition of the willing is winnowing as allies, convinced of the inevitably of a U.S. pullout, race us for the exits.
American casualties are now higher than in 2001. The chronically unstable Karzai government faces a fresh financial crisis, beseeching bailout-fatigued U.S. taxpayers to keep the Bank of Kabul solvent. Meanwhile the Taliban, burrowed into the towns and villages and biding their time in mountain fastnesses, patiently await the expiry date of Obama’s necessary war.