During the heart of the Vietnam war, we heard similar phrases: “peace with honor,” “additional forces,” “successful conclusion.” This was empty, meaningless rhetoric to the nearly 60,000 Americans who died “ending communist aggression.” When America left Vietnam, it was communist.
We will probably repeat the mistake in Afghanistan, because we are getting proficient at repeating mistakes.
Afghanistan is a largely Arabic Islamic country. If you know anything about Islamic history, you are aware that western culture is held in very low esteem. In fact, Muslims have been battling for thousands of years with themselves, among themselves, against themselves and others because there is no absolute agreement even regarding their own theology or culture.
Contemporary Islamic radicals are worse. Many are illiterate, unemployed nomads who are otherwise societal rejects. Their only true skill is killing, for any cause, and any reason, rational or otherwise. As with the Viet Cong, every time we kill one of them, there is another one to replace him. And they move around at will, often infiltrating regional militias and local communities.
We fought in Vietnam for over ten years. Nothing was resolved. We’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for over 16 years. Nothing has been resolved. Now we are told we must continue fighting until a satisfactory conclusion has been attained. What does THAT mean? In the meantime, the US dead and wounded mount, a convenient and welcome target for the radical terrorist–and Americans pay both the human and economic price.
If the threat of terrorism is our primary concern, we have contemporary technology that can substitute for many ground forces. Use it. Send in the drones to pinpoint and destroy terrorist encampments and equipment. Yes, some innocent people may be killed. But then, many are being killed right now. So, let’s get our ground forces out of there. Trump’s initial instinct probably was correct.