Obama should listen to historians

Afghanistan is once again the leading source in news stories across the nation.

The country that became a household name in American households following the attacks on Sept. 11 has become one of the top issues President Barack Obama is going to have to address in his infant presidency.

ABC News reported eight deaths just last week. With troop death tolls rising in the country, it’s becoming increasingly important for President Obama to decide what exactly he wants to do in the stressed country of Afghanistan.

Obama met with his national security team on Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan strategy.

While it may seem like the smart thing for Obama to do is to turn to his smartest military advisers, the advice of General Petraeus and other high-ranking military officials might not be the best course of action this time around.

This time the president needs to turn to a group of people who can help him understand the present situation in Afghanistan by comparing it to one of the best sources of strategy, the past.

President Obama needs to speak with historians this time around. Historically speaking Afghanistan is a lot like Vietnam, in that there is a fierce insurgency with a relentless will to fight.  Obama inherited a war that he did not start, that’s high on casualties and low on military progress.

Much like Vietnam, Obama is going to have to decide whether or not to stay and win or pull American troops out of the country. And if our nations’ history with Vietnam isn’t a good enough example, any Russian historian could tell President Obama that the Russians learned their lesson in Afghanistan and the U.S. would be smart to be mindful of the Russians history with Afghanistan.

Thirty years ago, after initial signs that the Russians would succeed in Afghanistan, it became clear that once they were viewed as “occupiers,” they would be thwarted and were eventually driven out. This could be the same fate for America. Hopefully Obama will seek advice from historians, as well as military advisers and avoid making the same mistake the Russians did. Sometimes history and historians can be a nation’s greatest asset.

Derrick McMahon is a senior history education student from Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached at famuanopinions@gmail.com.