Friday, August 20, 2021


The latest piece by The Washington Post's David Ignatius is headlined "The Best and Brightest never recovered from Vietnam. Will Biden’s team fare better?" Ignatius writes:
The reversals in Afghanistan are confounding for a Biden national security team that has rarely known personal failure: Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, went to Yale, Oxford and Yale Law School. Antony Blinken, secretary of state, attended Harvard and Columbia Law.

These are America’s best and brightest, who came to the messy endgame of the Afghanistan war with spotless résumés. That’s one of the parallels to the Vietnam War, where a similar group of brilliant policymakers who had rarely experienced failure was confounded by an obdurate enemy from another century. The U.S. foreign policy establishment of the 1960s hit a wall with Vietnam and never fully recovered. We’ll see what happens with the Biden team.
David Halberstam's book The Best and the Brightest is about the architects of U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam. It's about men who oversaw that policy for many years, as the war became a quagmire. Dean Rusk was secretary of state from 1961 to 1969. Robert McNamara was secretary of defense from 1961 to 1968. McGeorge Bundy was national security advisor from 1961 to 1966. William Bundy was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 1964 to 1969.

Anthony Blinken has been secretary of state for eight months. He took office a few days after Jake Sullivan became national security advisor.

Not named in Ignatius's column? Donald Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney. Condoleezza Rice. You know -- the folks who built this, and built it to fail. Or any other top official in the three administrations preceding Biden's -- perhaps Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state who negotiated terms for the withdrawal.

There's a lot of blame to go around -- but why apportion it the way it should be apportioned when you have a sitting Democratic president to bash?

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