This article was originally published at the Nolan Chart on November 2, 2008. With Obama now ramping the Iraq war back up by sending 1500 more troops there I'm republishing this article on this blog.
Many have said that there isn’t much difference between Sens. McCain
and Obama and taken to calling them McBama. I’d like to offer a
prediction about how things will go under the next President, who at
this point looks like it will be Sen. Obama, and suggest that there will
be a strong parallel with Pres. Richard Nixon’s administration, hence
the name Obixon.
In 1968 while campaigning Nixon said he would “end the war and win
the peace in Vietnam.” After posturing as a peace candidate he went on
to escalate the war in many ways, not concluding it until 1973. During
the five years that the war continued under his administration Nixon
ordered stepped up bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia, and ground
attacks into Cambodia and Laos. In this author’s opinion there is no
other conclusion to come to but that Nixon lied during his campaign and
had no intention of ending the Vietnam War quickly.
In 2008 Sen. Obama is running as a peace candidate, promising to end
the war in Iraq in sixteen months or perhaps less. His website states,
“Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of
Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: successfully
ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and
phased.” More can be read on the subject here,[link edited for length]
Perhaps he will end the war in Iraq quickly, but with history as a
guide there’s little reason for optimism. Just like in Vietnam, the
local forces the US is supporting in Iraq are doing poorly, the
political and economic situations are unstable, and the enemy is
committed to a long war of attrition. No doubt there will be surprises
from Al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents that Pres. Obama will have to
deal with. Pres. Bush has already escalated the war by attacking into
Pakistan and Syria. No doubt Pres. Obama will do the same. As pressure
to end the war increases his administration will become more aggressive,
hoping that will defeat the enemy. If Pakistan becomes unstable or is
taken over by an anti-American regime how else will an Obama
administration react but violently?
Therein lies the parallel with the Nixon administration. The peace
promises mean nothing. Guerrilla wars such as these carry their own
momentum that no administration committed to maintaining the American
empire can overcome. As Ayn Rand said, “There is no proper solution for
the war in Vietnam, it is a war we should never have entered. We are
caught in a trap: it is senseless to continue, and it is now impossible
to withdraw”. So it now seems the political class views the occupation
The only way out is to renounce foreign intervention and begin
bringing home all American troops and intelligence operatives from
around the world. This way we will not be seen as having been defeated,
but as having learned to live at peace with the world. Unfortunately,
Sen. Obama doesn’t see things this way. We’re in for a long war.
Feb. 8, 2009 update: Associated Press published an article entitled
“Obama considering at least 2 Iraq withdrawal plans”. To quote from the
article, “At the White House’s request, top military officials recently
offered an assessment of the risks associated with the 16-, 19- and
23-month withdrawal timetables, without saying which is preferred.
Obama’s top two defense advisers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, have not yet provided a formal
recommendation to the president on a timetable, an official said.” Is
Obama backing away from his campaign promise to end the war quickly? It
would seem so.
May 11, 2009 update: Andrew Bacevich said on Democracy Now!
“…I think its worth noting the comment that General Odierno in Iraq
made over the weekend at a press conference. I think the question was
something to the effect that, ‘Hey, how about the continuation of
violence in Baghdad after the success of the surge?’ And Odierno, I
think rather petulantly, said, ‘Hey, look. This insurgency is going to
go on for another five, ten or fifteen years.’ I agree with that
assessment in Iraq.”
Sept. 1, 2009 update: Looks like the same comparison is now being
used about Afghanistan. Gene Healy wrote “Afghanistan may be Obama’s
January 26, 2010 update: Ivan Eland is predicting a restarting of the fighting in Iraq in “The Next Crisis for Obama?“.
July 5, 2011 update: Ivan Eland compares Obama & Nixon, “Like Nixon, Obama Will Waste Lives to Get Reelected“