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I don’t know why the Washington Post would put it at the very end of its article — but there it was… the very last sentence at the very end of their obit for diplomat Richard Holbrooke:
“As Mr. Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, family members said, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon: ‘You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.’ “
You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan. His opposition wasn’t a big secret — but to make that your dying statement … my guess is he was worried that his country was again falling into the old pattern of fighting wars for no reason except to save face.
I keep going back to those old phone conversations where Lyndon Johnson talks to his advisers about getting out of Vietnam —
LBJ:”How important is it to us?”
Adviser: “It isn’t important a damn bit. You can make a tremendous case for moving out.”
LBJ: “We’ll they’d impeach a president though who’d out wouldn’t they?”
So he knows it has nothing to do with national security — and yet he can’t pull for fear of looking cowardly:
“They’ll forgive your for everything except being weak.”
And so he was strong. When Johnson made that last remark, the casualty count in Vietnam was 400. Final count — just over 58,000. Final cost, about 686 billion.
So now here’s Congress, about to pass a huge tax cut; with no idea how to pay for it — maybe this would be a good time to consider Richard Holbrooke’s final piece of advice. It’s one of those times when reading all the way to the end of the article… is worth it.
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