Ellsberg: Leaked Pentagon Papers from Vietnam give clues to why Obama will most likely grant military requests to send more troops to Afghanistan.
Paul Jay, senior producer of The Real News Network, interviewed former military analyst and Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg about the common thread between the conflict in Afghanistan and the war in Vietnam.
Like Vietnam, Ellsberg said “no victory lies ahead [for the US] in Afghanistan” and President Barack Obama knows it.
Still, Ellsberg believes Obama will “go against his own instincts as to what’s best for the country and do what’s best for him and his administration and his party in the short run facing elections, which is to avoid a military revolt.”
That means the president will likely authorize a sizable increase of US forces in the region, Ellsberg said, because Obama fears that top US military commanders will stage a revolt if he rejects their requests for additional soldiers.
Ellsberg predicted that Obama will cave in to Gen. Stanley McCrystal’s request for as many as 40,000 US troops in order to, “prevent his military from making a political case to his public and to the Congress that he has been weak, unmanly, indecisive, and weak on terrorism, and has endangered American troops.”
The Pentagon Papers, which Ellberg leaked to The New York Times in 1971, made public the decision-making details behind the Vietnam War. Ellsberg chose to leak the highly-sensitive papers because they revealed that the government was continuing the Vietnam War despite knowing it would not likely be won.
As revealed in the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg said that President Lyndon B. Johnson chose to go along with increasing US troops in Vietnam: “To keep the military from resigning and going public with complaints that he had abandoned a winnable war.”
President Obama’s decision to shield himself from a military revolt, as Johnson chose to do in 1965, will take place at the expense of US troops and Afghani civilians, said Ellsberg.
“Many Americans, many Afghans will die in order to protect the president from that kind of blame,” Ellsberg said.
Ellsberg, who used to write about what is now known as counterinsurgency theory, critiqued General McChrystal’s approach to Afghanistan. Sending more troops to Afghanistan, said Ellsberg, will only increase the Taliban’s strength. Ellsberg said:
“The more troops we put in Vietnam, the more Vietcong were recruited. And, the more troops we put in Afghanistan, the curve shows very clearly from 2005 on, the Taliban has come back having been, as you say, despised and reviled by most of the country. How can it be that they get the degree of support that they do now? One reason only: the number of troops, of US troops that they are fighting.”