Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Road to Afghanistan seems familiar

New York Times columnist Frank Rich has penned an excellent OpEd piece, "Obama at the Precipice," on a new book that touches on the dilemma that Afghanistan is presenting to the new president.
[McGeorge] Bundy left his memoir unfinished at his death in 1996. Goldstein’s book, drawn from Bundy’s ruminations and deep new research, is full of fresh information on how the best and the brightest led America into the fiasco. “Lessons in Disaster” caused only a modest stir when published in November, but The Times Book Review cheered it as “an extraordinary cautionary tale for all Americans.”

The reviewer was, of all people, the diplomat Richard Holbrooke, whose career began in Vietnam and who would later be charged with the Afghanistan-Pakistan crisis by the new Obama administration. Holbrooke’s verdict on “Lessons in Disaster” was not only correct but more prescient than even he could have imagined. This book’s intimate account of White House decision-making is almost literally being replayed in Washington (with Holbrooke himself as a principal actor) as the new president sets a course for the war in Afghanistan. The time for all Americans to catch up with this extraordinary cautionary tale is now.
Click here to read the entire piece.

Those Richmonders with a long memory may recall reading Rich's articles in the Richmond Mercury, an alternative weekly that lasted three years, 1972-75. Rich, who is Frances Lewis' nephew, wrote for the Mercury for about a year.

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