I was reading Leslie Gelb's piece in the Daily Beast today, and it occurred to me how much like Viet Nam the war in Afganistan, and Iraq too, are to the situation 40 years ago. In all cases we are fighting an unconventional enemy in a war that our troops were not trained to fight. Like then, we are supporting corrupt political regimes that have been "elected", but don't seem to have the legitimacy to govern. Like then, the locals dislike our presence, and do not appreciate whatever it is we think we are trying to do for them. Like then, it is probably time to go.
Many still debate our exit from Viet Nam. In hindsight, it is not at all clear what we were doing there. We had no vital interest in Viet Nam, just as today in Afganistan (I guess you could say oil is our interest in Iraq). And it is very unclear how life for Americans was negatively effected by leaving, or how it would have been better if we had stayed and "won", whatever that might mean in this case.
We have spent over $1 trillion on these wars (hey, Tea Partiers, TARP, which you hate, only cost $130B and IT WORKED!) and it is hard to imagine the situation in these two backward countries being "fixed". It is time to cut our losses, stop sending our youth to be killed, and re-tool our military for the challenges of the 21st century. Oh, and a real re-evaluation of when and why we should use military force would be a heck of good idea. Certainly the "Bush Doctrine" should be trashed, another expensive failure of the worst President in our history.
Politicians on the right and the left are now starting to see the folly of these wars......and politicians are usually the last to admit a war related policy is dumb. This could give Obama political cover to do the right thing and pull out, without worry about appearing weak on defense. Now, if we can just get the morons to see how dumb the war we are still fighting from 40 years ago, the one on drugs, is!