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The Vietnam moment

Published: October 30 2009 19:50 | Last updated: October 30 2009 19:50

obama in the oval office at the white house

Seven years ago, Dick Cheney proclaimed: “The Taliban is out of business, permanently.” Last week, the former vice-president came close to accusing Barack Obama of lacking the guts to “do what it takes” to win the war against the very same Taliban.

Some time in the next two weeks, Mr Obama is likely to bring months of agonised deliberation to a close when he decides how many more troops to send to Afghanistan. The number, which could be as high as the 40,000 recommended by Stanley McChrystal, the general in charge, will be analysed minutely for what it can achieve on the ground in Afghanistan.

But as Mr Cheney’s contrasting observations illustrate, the more influential war is being fought politically on the ground in America. Somehow, the compulsions of US politics have brought the candidate who electrified America by promising to pull out of Iraq to a position where many of his most ardent backers fear he may be about to get America into another Vietnam.  MORE>>>>>