Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Only 11 more years of pointless war to go

John McCain says a lot of stuff. Here's an interesting remark made to an audience at PNAC 2.0 --

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have a question about Afghanistan's government. How should we encourage the Karzai Administration or another successor if he is booted out in August, to be more effective, to be less corrupt and to generally improve their the country? What are your thoughts?

SENATOR MC CAIN: I think we all know that right now, anyway, there is not a viable opponent or strong opponent to President Karzai. Now, one may emerge. There is certainly great dissatisfaction in parts of Afghanistan towards the government, and we all know about the corruption situation.

So, I don't envision a scenario right now where President Karzai would be defeated. A lot of things happen in politics.

But if he were, then I think we would obviously forge -- try to forge a new and productive relationship.

I would like to remind you that -- again, going back to the one of my former experiences, if you look at Vietnam, the assassination of Diem was a seminal moment. And it meant really a lack of support for the government, a lack of an effective government. We had a revolving door of generals running Saigon.

So we want to be careful about how we approach the Karzai situation and certainly not, in my view, interfere in what is really a domestic election in Afghanistan.

He's referring to the 1963 assassination that ousted South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in a military coup. McCain seems to read it as saying that the US is stuck with Karzai because any alternative would be more destabilizing. But now Karzai is there as the winner of a dodgy election. Hence a major change in circumstances that has Barack Obama looking again at the overall strategy in Afghanistan. What if the US had pulled out of Vietnam in 1963 on the ground that it had no reliable domestic political partner?

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