One can almost hear the Robin Williams’ voice over…
“Good morning Afghanistan!”
And we could almost relabel this edition, “‘Are’ Our Nation Learning?”
I was listening to NPR when they reported that Afghan troops turned on their American counterparts.
Dare we turn “Vietnamization” into Afghanistanization?
We dare! We dare!
The lessons Vietnam had to teach us were many, and not as debatable as one could think. One could claim that we needed to stay longer, use more bombs, more troops, but with the mindset we had at the time, and the very nature of a war we barely understood: if at all, the most likely outcome would be more humiliation, more death and more angst. Let’s just say this was a war that had been going on long before even the French arrived and body counts meant nothing to the Cong or the Regulars. If it took more generations living and dying in the tunnels, disappearing into the jungle, being our partners in the day and putting on black pajamas, as some called them, and being called “gooks” at night, well that’s what it took.
We can play “what if” as much as we want, but “what if” proves nothing. The Cong and the Regulars were adjustable to pretty much anything we might have thrown at them. And if you’re willing to spend a whole life in a tunnel, and your son is too, just to make sure your enemy loses, well, what do the enemy do about that? Just like if they’re willing to live in caves.
Local, long term, insurgencies, are very, very, very difficult to defeat, as the Brits found out here in America, and ours was a very short term insurgency in comparison. One wonders what would have happened if we had agreed to give Uncle Ho control, rather than the French, post WWII. He was a big fan of our own insurgency in the 1700s, and some of our tactics became theirs.
Flash back to Afghanistan, a country where warlords have had more power and control than any attempt to unite them under any one flag ever could. However, warlords certainly are willing to unite to take money “not to kill” as long as it keeps coming, and find ways to kill anyway… if not then, eventually.
One might think of warlords as armies of Jeffery Dahmer: willing to live off of us like grown up boys who keep coming home, living off the family table, taking over most of the rooms. But these boys hide their body counts in those rooms, and looks at their own families as a source for snacks: cheerfully taking big bites until they’re happily crunching on skeletons.
That darkly humorous comparison breaks down when we realize we are the invaders: it’s their house. We aren’t the parents. We are the guests.
If they wish to return to the chaos of very localized warlord control, there’s not a damn thing we can do to keep that from happening eventually. No amount of national treasure loaded into pallets and flown into the country, no magic number body count, no amount of brutality, will stop that.
Exactly how do you get more brutal than savages willing to gleefully saw off someone’s head, on camera, for all the world to see?
Yes, the lessons in Nam were many. And as bad as the Cong and the North Viets could be, how does one compete with all that? And is it any surprise that the American trained Osama and his merry band twin tower wrecking crew-ers would choose Afghanistan to operate out of for a while?
When we raised hell about the Soviets invading a country on their border I remember their leaders saying, “You don’t understand, these are people you don’t want in control of a country.” And we called the same people who attacked us on 9/11 heroes, and the equivalent of our forefathers.
Now we’re being taught the same damn lessons again.
“Is” we learning yet?
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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