Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Afghanistan is the New Viet Nam

On October 7 of 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan began. The aim of that invasion, as clearly stated by then President Bush, was to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking Al-Qaeda members and put them on trial, to destroy the whole organization of Al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to Al-Qaeda. This is the eighth year of our involvement in Afghanistan with no clear end in sight.

Since no clear exit strategy has ever been developed for Afghanistan, one is left with no hope that we will ever get out of Afghanistan.
The Taliban were allowed to return to a position of strength in the rural areas of Afghanistan while the Bush Administration turned to new opportunities to bomb other countries with no exit strategy in place again. The invasion of Iraq (March of 2003) was the turning point in the war in Afghanistan.

At issue, whether we can ever walk away from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is more like Viet Nam for these reasons:

  1. Lack of a strong government in place.
  2. Lack of a disciplined standing Army.
  3. Widespread political corruption.
  4. No local authoritative forces to protect the people.

Refreshing the memory of those, that view Viet Nam as history, consider that the invasion of Viet Nam was not conventional in any way.
Our involvement began as ‘military advisors’ to the South Vietnamese Army and escalated to direct involvement with the placement to a puppet government that never gained the confidence of the Vietnamese people.

While the country was plunged in unprecedented turmoil and on the verge of collapse, the government adopted a strange attitude, a silence that was hard to understand except for a few appearances on TV and radio by President Thieu. People asked themselves questions and they tried to answer them themselves. Rumors circulated in place of government announcements. The Ministry of Information was mute, because the minister himself did not know much about the situation and did not know what the president’s intention was. Furthermore, he didn’t dare to take the initiative and talk about the things the president might not like or agree with.”

President Karzai is contributing to his country’s downfall by his obsession with retaining control with bribes and fraudulent election results.
Much of what Karzai is doing mirrors the mistakes that President Thieu made by during the Viet Nam war. He is blaming the United States for failures consistent with what the government of Afghanistan has failed to accomplish… building a standing army, protection of the people of Afghanistan, and creating an atmosphere that would promote the agricultural strengths of Afghanistan. The poppy crop has continued to grow under the direction of members of Karzai’s family with impunity. The profits from narcotics is fueling the efforts of the Taliban because local governments can't stop the cultivation.

The insurgency, occupying tribal parts of Pakistan, is similar in scale to that of Viet Nam with the influx of guerrilla troops from neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
The United States is ignoring these similarities at its peril. It's been reliably reported that Iran is also shaping the complexity of the war in Afghanistan as well.

The parallel is so similar between the two countries that it is frightening.
Frightening because the United States is committing the same mistakes with zeal… we are assuming that we are superior! The countryside is in the hands of the enemy as with Viet Nam. The influx of American troops to shore up the government is another classic mistake, in that no local forces are being prepared to hold ground taken by U.S. forces.

With predictability, we will lose the war in Afghanistan if we cannot effectively reverse the trends that led to the capitulation of Viet Nam.
We must withdraw from Iraq at a suitable time. Reducing the fronts will allow re-distribution of troops and resources. Strengthening the outlying provincial villages will take time, but should be a priority if we are to control the reach of the Taliban and gain the trust of the people of Afghanistan.

In a democracy, silence is not golden; it is condonance in the face of injustices; it is fear, where the thought of reprisal fosters control. – Rodney A. Davis

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