THE PLANK DECEMBER 6, 2009
Strangest comment of the day (from Bob Woodward, on Meet the Press):
Woodward: I think the lives of the average Afghan come into play here. How are they living? What's going on with them? And we are sending our military to protect them. You know what, I mean, that--this isn't an abstraction, it is about our military forces going in, eating goat with them...
Woodward: ...smoking bad cigarettes, using the same toilet. And for them it's not a toilet, it's, it's a pot.
Silliest comment of the day (courtesy of Frank Rich):
After the dramatic three-month buildup, you’d think that Barack Obama’s speech announcing his policy for Afghanistan would be the most significant news story of the moment. History may take a different view. When we look back at this turning point in America’s longest war, we may discover that a relatively trivial White House incident, the gate-crashing by a couple of fame-seeking bozos, was the more telling omen of what was to come.
Or, we may not. Finally, most obtuse paragraph of the day (from Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek cover story):
When Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger entered the White House in 1969, they inherited a war in Vietnam that they might have believed in at some theoretical level, but that they recognized was bleeding the country...[T]hey also recognized that they had to deal with the crisis in Vietnam and said explicitly that they were going to try to scale back America's involvement there. In this they succeeded. By April 1969, soon after Nixon took office, there were 543,000 American troops in Vietnam. At the end of his first term, there were fewer than 20,000 left. But in between, in order to keep the enemy on the defensive, to gain momentum, and to create space for American troops to leave, Nixon and Kissinger ordered a series of offensive military maneuvers that were designed to hit the North Vietnamese hard. Surge and then draw down, you might say.
Nixon and Kissinger thoughtfully recognized that the war was bleeding the country (poor choice of words)...which was surely why they undermined the Paris peace talks in 1968 and dragged the war out for many more years (years in which only tens of thousands of American lives and countless Vietnamese and Southeast Asian lives were lost). Oh, and when they did end the war, they did so on terms similar to the ones outlined in 1968! Let's hope Obama does a tad better, even if Zakaria thinks that the Nixon regime was the gold standard of diplomacy.