Saturday, December 5, 2009

From now on this is Obama's war

Watching him make the most important speech of his term was profoundly depressing

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"Be careful what you wish for. Barack Obama wanted the American presidency, and with a brilliant campaign he won it. As late as early this summer, disbelief could still be suspended. Cartoonists were still depicting him as Superman, leaping over every problem mere mortals might put in his way. But he too has now been exposed as a mere mortal. He's not soaring over problems. Rather, he may be crushed by them......

More than 40 years ago, an earlier Democratic president named Lyndon B Johnson, with a no less ambitious domestic agenda than Obama, was confronted by the same choice. We all know how Vietnam ended. No two conflicts are exactly alike. But with every passing month, the similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan grow.

George Orwell once observed that the quickest way to end a war is to lose it – but losing a war is also the quickest way to lose a presidency, too. That reasoning prevailed with LBJ, though Vietnam forced him out of the White House regardless. For Obama, the stakes are as high now......

The great promise of this presidency was that it would usher in a new way of doing politics. It would, as they say, break the mould. But the Afghan speech, so full of politics as usual, gave the lie to that. We all should be careful what we wish for."

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