Afghanistan–Our “Vietnam Conflict”

Is Afghanistan our “Vietnam Conflict”?

Years ago, I remember hearing the title of a television documentary with the title: Vietnam, The Ten Thousand Day War (or 19-1/2 years, to be more precise). Just hearing that number in days and, even more appalling, the number of U.S. service members that perished (over 58,000) dismayed me. It still does. And for whatever reason, most notably during Memorial Day or similarly noteworthy event, the thought crosses my mind–will our involvement with Afghanistan suffer the same fate?

Although we don’t and won’t have nearly as many deaths as we endured by the time we finally “withdrew” from Vietnam, it still bears the question: Will the war end when President Obama “pulls” our troops from Afghanistan next year? We’re going to still be involved in that country, technically, for another ten years. So, the answer to that question is no. Are the Taliban and insurgents just waiting for us to leave, even beyond 2024? Because if it’s anything like the mayhem that’s been going on in recent weeks, heaven help that country. Will it all be for naught? I hope not. But when some of the Afghan troops turn around and shoot their allies, it’s hard not to wonder.

It’s hard not to adopt a defeatist attitude about it but take a look at history–Vietnam and the Korean War, Conflict or whatever that was. We still maintain troops in South Korea. Even sixty years later. Like a temperamental volcano, as we have seen in recent months, North Korea still erupts. Don’t they know that if they deploy a nuclear warhead at South Korea, they’d no doubt do irreparable damage to their own country? It’s as if they don’t mind cutting off their own collective noses to spite their faces. Don’t they ever want to join the rest of Asia? I would think that having to keep up that omnipotent image of military might would get tiring after all these years. Young Kim Joon Un did back down recently. Do you suppose Dennis Rodman’s been pulling his coat and giving him a little diplomatic advice? If so, I say, “Way to go, Rodman!”

Iraq worries me, too. Their death toll soared last month, the highest since 2008. Will we be forced to go back into that country? Or do we still have troops there, even after our “withdrawal”? And what of Turkey and Egypt? It’s so convoluted! Can’t we all just get along?

I’ll admit, I don’t begin to understand the ends and outs of America’s involvement in foreign wars or with our allies and what exactly do we get out of our participation in them. I know that we’re still considered a Super Power, despite our own economic woes as well as Globalization, aka Outsourcing, and just our stretched-thinness when it comes to military and monetary aid to other countries. Whatever you believe, we can’t help every ally and more importantly, after we assist them, be it militarily or with resources or nation-building, how do we ensure that it “takes”? Even if we leave a nominal force of troops, can we really prevent further bloodshed? Or are those troops we leave behind sitting ducks, too?

I hope beyond hope that the military assistance and nation-building efforts we have been involved in for over a decade have taken hold with the Afghan nationals. As of late, it hasn’t looked nearly as promising as I would have hoped by this time. I hope and pray that it will very soon.

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