My column is out in Salon.com: “Obama’s Vietnam? Friday’s airstrikes are evidence Obama will take the hard line he promised in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But he should remember what happened to another president who inherited a war.
“On Friday, President Barack Obama ordered an Air Force drone to bomb two separate Pakistani villages, killing what Pakistani officials said were 22 individuals, including between four and seven foreign fighters. Many of Obama’s initiatives in his first few days in office — preparing to depart Iraq, ending torture and closing Guantánamo — were aimed at signaling a sharp turn away from Bush administration policies. In contrast, the headline about the strike in Waziristan could as easily have appeared in December with “President Bush” substituted for “President Obama.” Pundits are already worrying that Obama may be falling into the Lyndon Johnson Vietnam trap, of escalating a predecessor’s halfhearted war into a major quagmire. What does Obama’s first military operation tell us about his administration’s priorities?
Obama’s first meeting with his team on national security issues focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the course of which the new president is reported to have endorsed the drone attacks. Friday’s were the first major U.S. airstrikes on Pakistani territory since Jan. 1, because the Pakistan Taliban Movement in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had launched a campaign to discover local informants for the Central Intelligence Agency, killing 40 of them. The two cells the U.S. hit are accused of raiding over the border into Afghanistan, lending support to the Taliban there.”
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