Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Panetta, Polls, And The Afghan Quagmire

By Matthew Rothschild, cross-posted from

It’s disgusting to watch Defense Secretary Leon Panetta trying to justify the ongoing war in Afghanistan long after it’s proven unwinnable and now after the public has decisively moved against it.

A recent poll showed that 69 percent of the American people are against the war.

But Panetta doesn’t care. “We cannot fight wars by polls,” he said. “If we do that, we’re in deep trouble.”

But it’s the people who are supposed to decide whether we wage war or not. That’s why our Constitution requires Congress, the elected officials closest to the people, to make this fateful decision, not the President, nor the Secretary of Defense, nor the brass.

And the lesson of Vietnam, the lesson of Iraq, is that when the American public clearly doesn’t support the way anymore, the war can’t be won.

The pathetic and inexcusable thing is that Panetta must know that himself. The generals must know it. And Obama must know it.

But like Robert McNamara, and General Westmoreland, and Lyndon Johnson before them, they keep fighting the war because they are unwilling, for political reasons, to come clean to the American public that hired them.

It’s shameful that they keep sending our soldiers to fight and die in a useless cause.

And a government that continues to wage war without the support of its people forfeits the right to call itself a democracy.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine, which is one of the leading voices for peace and social justice in this country.  He is the host of "Progressive Radio," a syndicated half-hour weekly interview program, and does a two-minute daily radio commentary, entitled "Progressive Point of View," which is also syndicated around the country.  Rothschild is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression (New Press, 2007)


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