January 22, 2009
Posted: 12:22 PM ET
By George McGovern, former senator from South Dakota, who was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972.
As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire.
There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.
True, the United States is the world's greatest power - but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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