Former three-term mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, has actually been opposed to the Bush/Obama approach to the war in Afghanistan for quite some time now, maybe a year. In his most recent column, published in the Yonkers Tribune, and sent to his email listserv, Koch compares the intractable war to Vietnam in its lack of discernible purpose:
"The British and the Russians gave up on Afghanistan, as probably did Alexander the Great of ancient Macedonia. Even if we were to win, what would we have won? The government of Afghanistan is described by most knowledgeable observers as one of the most corrupt in the world. Indeed, the Afghan government does not have the backing of many, if not most, Afghans who are part of a tribal society run by different war lords financed by the sale of heroin and opium."
I would go a half-step further and ask Obama and his chickenhawk boosters to explain what they would define as a "win" in the first place. The reason I find Koch's continued opposition to the war interesting is that Koch, throughout his career, has been a brilliant bellwhether politician. Early in his career he was known as a civil rights progressive, and opponent of the Vietnam War. As the country moved rightward, he turned on minorities and welfare, became a Reagan booster, and was eventually driven out of office in a Democratic primary (against David Dinkins). Since then he has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans, almost all of whom seem to win.
I say this not to tout his principles, but to suggest that he is not the kind of politician who goes out on limbs. His opposition to the war is part of the recent mainstreaming of dissent against a message machine that has long labled this the "just war".
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