Afghanistan Withdrawal Like Vietnam’s


Although I respect President Obama and would vote for him over any Republican, his schedule to withdraw from Afghanistan looks more like a political timetable, than anything connected to the reality on the ground, and it resembles Nixon’s Vietnam plan.

Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, based on a secret plan to end the War in Vietnam. At the start of President Johnson’s last full year in office, in Jan. 1968, the U.S. had 486,000 men in Vietnam. When Nixon was sworn in, he first increased troop strength from Jan. through April 1969, to a peak of 543,000, before starting a very slow de-escalation. By Jan. 1970, 475,000 boots were still on the ground and nearly as many as there were two years earlier.

Instead of just getting out of Vietnam immediately, as he implied in the 1968 campaign, Nixon broadened the war in April 1970, by conducting an invasion into neighboring Cambodia. That surge, if you will, accomplished nothing, but more death and destruction.

While Nixon told the American people in Jan. 1971, the U.S. was pulling out, the number of troops still stood at 234,000, two years after he took office. Instead of simply withdrawing, which is what most Americans wanted, Nixon re-escalated the war again in Feb. 1971, by backing a South Vietnamese invasion into Laos. Among other losses, that effort destroyed 89 U.S. helicopters and crews.

As of Jan. 1972, three years after Nixon was sworn in, the U.S. still had 156,000 troops in Vietnam. When the North Vietnamese launched an offensive across the DMZ in March 1972, instead of just letting it go, Nixon resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, which President Johnson had halted 3½ years earlier. Nixon then ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor, in May 1972.

To insure a political victory, Nixon instructed Sec. of State Henry Kissinger to announce: “peace is at hand” in Oct., just before the Nov. 1972 election. This helped Nixon defeat Democratic Sen. George McGovern, a decorated WWII combat pilot. Once Nixon was in his second term, in Dec. 1972, he quickly resumed a vicious full-scale bombing campaign over Vietnam, known as the Christmas Bombings. Nixon finally gave up in Vietnam on Jan. 27, 1973, under the same terms he could have had 4 years earlier.

Two years later, after Nixon had resigned, the inevitable occurred on April 30, 1975 as the North reunited all of Vietnam and finally ended the conflict for the Vietnamese. President Ford acknowledged: “America is no longer at war,” on May 7, 1975.

Like Nixon, Obama gave the impression he would end the war, sooner than later. Under the recent plan however, it will take at least four years to get out of Afghanistan. Like Nixon, Obama increased troop strength, before starting to reduce it, a cleaver plan someone in the Pentagon must have dreamed up. Like Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia, Obama’s cross-over into Pakistan was without legal authority.

The Afghan withdrawal, scheduled to be done by Oct. 2012, is timed to insure victory in the Nov. 2012 election, just like Kissinger’s peace is at hand statement in Oct. 1972 was made to seal a win in Nov. 1972. The saddest part of the whole thing, is just like Nixon, Obama could have obtained the same result, if he had withdrawn immediately, upon taking office in Jan. 2009. The sad truth is we will not have gained anything but more body bags by staying another four years. The reality on the ground is we can never “win” in Afghanistan, no matter how long we stay. It was a lesson most Americans learned about 40 years ago already.

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