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Friday, November 27th, 2009
A Letter to the White House
Sent Friday, November 27, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Listen to Bill Moyers' compilation of L.B.J.'s recorded
phone conversations about Vietnam, in podcast form on
Moyers' website. As the increasingly weary and
depressed presidential tone makes eerily clear, Johnson
knows that bowing to pressure from the military, from
Goldwater, and from the war mongers in general is

His rationale for caving anyway, beyond simply taking
the path of least political resistance, was based on a
premise whose falsity was clear to the few truth tellers
in his entourage: should S. Vietnam turn communist, all
of Asia would follow like a row of dominoes. Our
involvement in Afghanistan is based on an identically
false premise, namely that when the Taliban retake their
country in the wake of our departure, Afghanistan will
pose a mortal threat to the United States.

An impoverished, broken, backward, and distant
backwater is a threat? As ludicrous an idea as the
domino theory when put in those terms, but the sole
argument of the contemporary war mongers. Like their
predecessors forty-five years ago they are self-serving,
heedless of the true national interest, themselves
unlikely ever to hear a shot fired in anger.

No matter the blood and treasure expended, we did not
alter the ultimate outcome in Korea and Vietnam. Nor
indeed in Iraq, whose citizens are worse off today than
they were under the former regime, despite our  tens of
thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars already
wasted. Afghanistan will also ultimately decide its own
outcome, regardless of the length and strength of our
commitment. Suppose the war mongers are correct in
the short term, and the Taliban retakes power when we
leave. To paraphrase Dick Cheney, so what? The
Taliban did not attack us. Providing a safe harbor to
those who did cost them dearly once. They are unlikely
to repeat the experiment again. If they are so insane as
to welcome back Al Qaeda, so much the better for our
interests. Concentrated once again in one place, our true
enemy is that much easier to effectively bomb.

Avoid Johnson's fatal error. Resist the war mongers. On
Tuesday tell the Afghans we will sort out their problems
with technical assistance and cash to the extent that
they allow, but that our military involvement is at an
end. It is the only pragmatic course. It is also the right
thing to do.

©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2009
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