This past Tuesday President Obama spoke to the cadets at West Point announcing his plans to add 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan. Sadly, I’ve seen this speech before, though maybe not as well delivered. LBJ gave it when he increased troops in Vietnam. (We all know how well that worked out.) As Obama spoke, I couldn’t help but recall the Yogi Berra quote, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
I voted for Obama. Through my writing and e-mails, you might say I “campaigned” for him. But I’m disappointed in his decision. For his sake, I hope it turns out right. I worry, especially for the soldiers and their families, that it won’t. When such disparate voices as Tom Hayden and George Will suggest that the policy is doomed, it makes me nervous.
The tone of the speech was sobering, as it should be. The cadets, including a surprising number of women, rarely applauded. One was napping, and on camera no less. I hope his parents weren’t watching.
It seems painfully clear to me that if the Bush administration hadn’t redirected its focus on Iraq, our mission in Afghanistan might have been completed long ago. Gen. Tommy Franks suggested that we were close to achieving our goals. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the neocons began beating the Iraq war drums. Not long after the invasion, the Taliban and al-Qaida began to return to Afghanistan, reclaiming control. And that’s the sad reality of today.
The non-existent WMDs in Iraq wasn’t the first time we’ve gone to war under false pretenses. In Vietnam, there was the Gulf of Tonkin incident that allowed LBJ, a Democrat, to widen the war. Today, it’s universally held that our ships were never fired upon by the North Vietnamese. It might have been radar failures. LBJ even suggested as much in 1965, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”
The blowing up of the USS Maine which preceded the Spanish-American War, and the Lusitania, which precipitated America’s involvement in WWI, have been considered by some historians as “False Flag” incidents intended to fuel war fever. And for some reason, we the people, always fall for it.
Most presidents have a difficult time saying no to the generals. Truman managed to (firing MacArthur) and Eisenhower went a step further. In his farewell address he warned about the dangers of the military industrial complex, the only group that actually profits from war. During Obama’s speech I kept thinking about Ike’s prophecy.
Immediately following the address, the networks and cable channels began their instant analysis. Actually, they couldn’t wait to turn to the more riveting issue facing America, what the hell is up with Tiger Woods?
On Wednesday, Obama’s speech seemed less debated than the National Enquirer’s report about Tiger Woods’ car accident and his now-admitted-to “transgressions” with a cocktail waitress. Apparently she has 300 text messages and untold voicemails from him, one of which (from Nov. 24) is already on the Internet. It begins, “This is Tiger.” He tells her that Mrs. Tiger has discovered her number and asks for “a huge favor,” that she change her outgoing message to a generic one.
Tiger was also given a $164 “careless driving” citation by the Florida Highway Patrol and received four points on his driver’s license. This could cause his insurance premium to increase, assuming Tiger doesn’t own the insurance company.
Instead of coming out with the truth up front, as David Letterman did, Tiger stonewalled. This only fueled the rumor mills. One of the three women has already hired attorney Gloria Allred. My reaction: “Bring on the clowns.”
In the tradition of Richard Nixon’s, “I am not a crook” and Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” we can now add Tiger’s “The only person responsible for the accident is me.” (And an eight iron?)
In the meantime, Woods canceled on his own charity golf tournament this week, the Chevron World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. As soon as Tiger’s “no show” was announced tournament officials began refunding money to hordes of unhappy golf fans. The PGA sans Tiger equals yawn.
Be prepared, in the coming weeks Tiger’s three mistresses may turn into 13, all armed with salacious text messages and voices mails. The tabloids will have the biggest field day since O.J. murdered Nicole and Ron. Whoops, allegedly murdered.
So, two remarkable men, admired by millions worldwide, have disappointed their base for different reasons. Personally, I have zero interest in Tiger’s “extracurricular activities,” but Obama and Afghanistan is monumental. If history is any judge, I fear Obama will wind up the new LBJ. Yogi will be right. It’ll be déjà vu all over again.
President Obama’s e-mail is: www.whitehouse.gov/contact. Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.