Comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam are becoming popular again. Will Senator John Kerry walk in Senator Fulbright's footsteps?
Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in the Washington Post:
Afghanistan now awaits its Fulbright. It is time for the Senate to make an independent review of the war, and to challenge - as Sen. J.William Fulbright did during the Vietnam war - a president unwilling to end a conflict he knows will not be won. Surely, it is fate that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is Sen. John Kerry. Nearly 40 years ago, as a brave, decorated, young Navy lieutenant returning from Vietnam, he challenged senators to do their duty, saying that each day "someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows . . . that we have made a mistake. . . . How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Does Sen. Kerry, now steeped in Washington's political culture, have the same courage as that young man? Will he stand up, as Fulbright did before him, to challenge a president of his own party in the nation's best interest? A new generation of young men and women depends on him to lead.
Still haunted by Vietnam, the current chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry has begun to waver in his support of the Afghanistan war, writes Michael Hirsh, the Chief Correspondent of the National Journal:
Kerry, of course, is all too aware of the Vietnam-Fulbright comparison. But he is quick to note the differences between now and then. "Senator Fulbright was obviously opposed to what Johnson was doing. And I'm trying to work here to refine what we're doing, to see what we can achieve," Kerry says. "There really is an enormous difference between Vietnam and our presence in Afghanistan, and that difference centers on the fact that there really was no realistic national-security threat to the United States of America in Vietnam. There is a realistic national-security threat through the Taliban's affiliation with al-Qaida and al-Qaida's efforts to attack us.. Look at what happened in the Times Square bomber case; look what happened to the airplanes" that were recently threatened by package bombs.
Yet Kerry acknowledges that credible participants in the discussion-among them his old pals Hagel and Biden (at least before the latter acceded to Obama's surge)-argue that it's not that different; that in fact, the Karzai government will never control more than a sliver of the country; that the Afghan military will never be up to snuff; that the Taliban insurgents are not as damaging to American security as al-Qaida; and that with the U.S. effort there now into its 10th year, it's time to wind down and get out.
Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek wrote an article last summer with the title: "John Kerry's Fulbright Moment"