America's Hour of Truth The Risk of Failure in Afghanistan and Iraq
Barack Obama is caught in a Catch-22 situation: If America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq fail, they will overshadow any of his domestic achievements. The end game in the leadership role of the United States in the world began long ago. Can the Afghanistan conference deliver a breakthrough?
I. There is a name that is now being mentioned frequently in the debate over America's wars, a name that does not bode well for US President Barack Obama: Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. Johnson, who, like Obama, was both a Democrat and an energetic reformer, ultimately failed because of an overseas war being fought by US troops. The Vietnam War prevented Johnson from being remembered as one of the most prominent US presidents in the history of the 20th century.
Johnson took on issues that no one before him had dared to touch -- not even his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. The set of domestic programs known collectively as the Great Society is associated with his name, and it was Johnson who courageously fought racial discrimination in the United States, declared war on poverty, welcomed non-European immigrants to the United States, reformed the education system from the ground up, promoted civil rights and, with his Medicare and Medicaid programs, laid the foundation for a new health care policy on which Obama can now build.
But these great achievements practically disappeared behind Johnson's miscalculations on Indochina. Beginning in 1966, when the US campaign in Vietnam was approaching its peak, the expression "credibility gap" became popular in the United States. Johnson's foreign policy spoiled the success of his domestic policies. He was a wartime president, a role Americans could not reconcile with his image of a conciliator at home.
Obama, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will soon find himself in a very similar predicament. At that point, the entire current global order will most likely be up for debate.
- Part 1: The Risk of Failure in Afghanistan and Iraq
- Part 2: How the President Deals with Armed Conflicts
- Part 3: The Prospect of Civil War Is Never Far Away
- Part 4: A Consistently Dismal Outlook for Afghanistan
- Part 5: In Afghanistan, Options Are Extreme and Contradictory
- Part 6: An Endgame Around the Role of the US in the World