In the new RJsCorner I try to limit my political posts to Mondays only. Since this is Monday, I must do a “having my say” about Afghanistan. So, here goes…
It seems that every generation has to make the same mistakes over and over again. Vietnam was my generation’s big one, and Afghanistan is this generations’ boondoggle into naive insanity.
I was way too busy in the 1960s to get very involved in the Vietnam idiocy, but I did go to some protests around my college campus when I had the time. That war costs 55,000+ American lives, one of them was a dear friend, and trillions of bucks. It officially started in 1954, but it was 1965 before any US combat troops arrived. It finally ended twenty years after it started with the fall of Saigon.
The parallels between these two wars are tragically similar. We nobly start out trying to make the country’s government like ours, and we tragically ended up with virtually nothing accomplished but a puppet government with no backbone. Vietnam should have showed us the likely scenario in Afghanistan, but we never learned that lesson.
After all those lives and dollars spent, the government we tried to establish in Afghanistan fell within days of our finally saying enough is enough. They say we spent $2 trillion for this failed venture. That amount of money would likely have provided a new home and a lifetime income for all those who wanted to flee the country in the first place. I guess you could say that Afghanistan did make a major advancement in development of prosthetic devices, but that’s about all it accomplished.
Another similarity between these two wars was the idea that the initial loss of American lives resulted in an ever increased presence and even more losses, until someone finally had the guts to stop it. In order to justify the initial loss of life, we had to keep doing the same thing all over again. It was just too much damage to American ego, to admit that we made a mistake and to get out quickly like we should have for both these wars.
The radical right is loudly proclaiming that Kabul is “Biden’s Saigon”. But, at least he was brave enough to say, “enough is enough”. For Vietnam, it was a Republican president that did that.
In my mind, we should just build a wall around the Middle East and let them have the governments they want. The policy should be that “you stay on your side of the wall, and we will do the same”. If you don’t, then you will suffer the consequences. No more nation building, that was a tragic mistake in both wars. As Peter, Paul, and Mary said
“When will we ever learn”