Thursday, February 2, 2012

Repeating History

Reading about President Obama's plan to drawdown and withdraw forces from Afghanistan I'm struck with a lot of similarities to Nixon's plan (and promises) about Vietnam, meaning when we leave, it won't be victoriously as promised by Bush and the hawks in Congress. It won't be rephrased to appear like victory like Obama wants.

In the end you can change all the political rhetoric Johnson and Nixon said about Vietnam to what Bush and Obama have said about Afghanistan and it's the same thing, same tune and tone, just another time and place. Like? Change:

Viet Cong to Taliban,

North Vietnam to Pakistan,

Paris peace talks to negotiations with the Taliban,

US departure from Saigon to US departure from Kabul,

while the last is not a sudden exit from the roof top of the US embassy in Saigon but simply flights from US bases outside Kabul.

There are differences, to some a lot of differences, enough to void any comparison. Like?

We're withdrawing slower, leaving some bases and forces for monitoring Iran and conducting covert operations.

We're trying to help and train the police and army of the government.

We're writing big checks to the new government and for military equipment and supplies.

And we are hoping to be asked to say beyond our withdrawl date.

But in the end, it's the same end. The enemy we fought to oust from the country (Taliban) or prevent taking over the country (communists) will win and take over the government and country when we leave. They did in Vietnam and they will try in Afghanistan, except there it will be a civil war between the Karzai government, the drug lords, the war lords, the criminal gangs and the Taliban, each capturing their parts of the country.

While Vietnam united both north and south into Vietnam we know today, Afghanistan will divide into the Afghanistan of the past with no overwhelming leader or force but several forces fighting for the country, the proverbial hearts and minds, but more so, just the people for money and power.

That's what it will be about, money and power. This time, in part our money given in economic and military aid. It's the same story in every country.

And while we fought the gallant fight, we lost the war. While the soldiers sacrificed and did their best, the politicians screwed it up. Nothing changed from then in Vietnam to now in Afghanistan. Same story, same result and many soldiers, people and Afghans dead or permanently injured while politicians stood on their soap box spouting nonsensical rhetoric about war, enemies and patriotism.

We repeated history and we still didn't and haven't learned. Will we ever learn? Or maybe we're not seeing the truth and reality in the mirror anymore, but only our imagination of what we want to believe? And we wonder why we keep repeating history when we keep ignoring our own history?

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