I think we can throw away the post-Vietnam model; throw it way away. This post-war period will be different and if, like me, you are trying to figure it out, read Lexington from the 02MAR13 issues from The Economist. Get your best Pepperidge Farm accent ready with a little post-industrial landscape that smells slightly of fish.
By the end of next year the war will be over, the mission completed. After a grinding decade, Mr Obama declared ringingly in his state-of-the-union address that “our brave men and women in uniform” are coming home.Read the whole thing - but this is what got me to read it three times;
That pledge earned a standing ovation. Beyond Washington, in the sort of American communities that provide the backbone of the armed forces, it prompts a more complicated response. The small city of South Portland in Maine is one of many obscure places to be heavily touched by war since the September 11th 2001 attacks. No state has lost more soldiers in Afghanistan, per person, than Maine—a fertile recruiting ground in every conflict since the civil war and still today home to an unusual number of veterans. And the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns cost South Portland dearer than most places in Maine. A windswept coastal city of 25,000, it lost four local men, three of them young graduates from the same high school.
One town cannot represent American opinion. Yet talking to a cross-section of locals, as well as to state military and government officials, the same observations come up repeatedly. It may be useful to record some of them.
They call their city more overtly patriotic than a decade ago, yet more cynical, too. For all Mr Obama’s assurances, many fear an untidy ending in Afghanistan, and further messy crises to follow. Whether fresh interventions might be justified divides them. In short, they will believe in the homecoming of the brave when they see it.That I think is one flavor in the post-conflict stew we are cook'n.
An interesting note about editors at The Economist. The title on deadtree and the text link is, "The view from Maine streets: Barack Obama’s talk of peace does not convince a city marked by war" - I assume an editor changed that. The author's preferred title, one that is much closer to what the article is about, can be found on his blog;
Bingo. We have a leader who engineered a retreat, skipping an entire phase of an operation that had a chance of some measure of success - but none after DEC09. That's the funk - and we're only now starting to internalize it.
Forget post-Vietnam - things are different now. How, don't know ... but you didn't see this in the 1970s.