Cross posted at LiveJournal
In 1968 Bobby Kennedy entered the race for President in large part because he felt he needed to end the war in Vietnam. He was vociferous in opposition to the policies of escalation of the Johnson administration. Now, 40 years later, we find ourselves again bogged down in a war in Afghanistan and a President facing a decision about escalation. The original purpose is long confused. The Afghan government is illegitimate and corrupt. We have no partner and don't know the enemy. And yet, the generals are asking for more troops, more war. At what cost? To what purpose? Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The former Soviet Union bogged down in Afghanistan for 9 years before leaving without "victory".
At the University of Kansas in March 1968, Bobby Kennedy said:
I would like to see the United States government to make it clear to the government of Saigon that we are not going to tolerate the corruption and the dishonesty. I think that we should make it clear to the government of Saigon that if we're going to draft young men, 18 years of age here in the United States, if we're going to draft young men who are 19 years-old here in the United States, and wer're going to send them to fight and die in Khe Sanh, that we want the government of South Vietnam to draft their 18-year-olds and their 19-year-olds.
It is past time to leave Afghanistan just as it was past time to leave Vietnam in 1968. There is no longer a clear mission. There is no defined enemy. Not another American soldier should come home in a flag-draped coffin. If President Obama follows the recommendations of his generals and sends tens of thousands more young men and women into war in Afghanistan, the question becomes, who will be our generation's Bobby Kennedy? Who will have the courage to speak out against the war? Who will stand up and say, no more!
Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet, it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change. -RFK