The Business Times

History's lessons may well be behind Obama's ISIS approach

After all, wars did destroy the presidencies or legacies of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W Bush.

Published Wed, Dec 16, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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WARS can make or unmake presidential tenures. They can build or break presidential reputations. The Vietnam War destroyed the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and indirectly caused Richard Nixon's resignation.

President Barack Obama is aware that wars have produced disastrous outcomes for a president's legacy. He is reluctant to send large numbers of US troops to fight the Islamic State, or ISIS, even though he faces pressure to widen US participation following the Nov 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in 2015, it is worth recalling the way the war ended Mr Johnson's career after the Tet Offensive in early 1968. At the time, the North Vietnamese army and their Southern Vietnamese guerrilla allies launched a series of audacious attacks on US military forces, taking them completely by surprise.

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