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Moyers: Obama's Bad Gamble on Afghanistan -- 100,000 Soldiers Used as Chips for a Bet the US Can't Win

We are losing lives for no purpose. The perpetuation of this unnecessary war exacerbates the problems in the Islamic world.

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Or to claim from the campaign some positive benefit that allows us to say that the end date of the long war is any closer. And we do find ourselves in this circumstance where permanent war now seems to have become the norm. And we don't know what to do about that.

BILL MOYERS: There's something else that President Obama said when he was in Afghanistan.  Take a look at this

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don't quit, the American Armed Services does not quit, we keep at it, we persevere, and together with our partners we will prevail. I am absolutely confident of that.

BILL MOYERS: How do you read that?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think the president has, he's placed down this enormous bet. A bet involves 100 thousand American soldiers.

And the deterioration of circumstances, for example, if Karzai turns out to be an unreliable ally, even that will make it extraordinarily difficult for the president to now say, "Well, I've changed my mind. I'm going to take that, I'm going to take that bet off the table." So in that sense, the rhetoric is not at all surprising, I think. And of course, it's historically incorrect. We quit after the Mogadishu firefight in Somalia. I think that it probably was prudent to quit. That doesn't make Somalia a great place today. We quit in Vietnam, having paid an enormous cost, to try to maintain the viability of South Vietnam. So there are times actually when it makes sense to quit.

BILL MOYERS: Should we quit in Afghanistan?

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think so. I mean again, I believe that ultimately, a sound foreign policy should be informed by an enlightened understanding of one's own interests. That's what we pay people like President Obama big money to do, to advance our collective interests, what's good for this country, this people. And the perpetuation of the war in Afghanistan is not good for this country and for our people.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Because we are squandering our treasure. We are losing lives for no purpose. And ultimately, the perpetuation of this unnecessary war does, I think, serve to exacerbate the problems within the Islamic world, rather than reducing those problems.

BILL MOYERS: Andrew Bacevich, thank you for joining me on the Journal. And we'll continue this conversation on our website at PBS.org.

Bill Moyers is the host of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS .

 
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