Afghan War Looks More and More Futile
Deaglán de Bréadún
The parallels between Afghanistan and the Vietnam War are growing all the time. Like LBJ, President Obama has a strong interest in social issues and clearly wants to make life better for ordinary citizens of the US. But Lyndon Baines Johnson was brought down by a slow-burning military disaster in a faraway land.
Broken man: LBJ listens to Richard Nixon inaugural speech, January 1969
The shootings at Fort Hood are yet another reflection of the upset that is being caused by the latest war (for an internet report click here.) We have also had the shooting dead of five British soldiers by a police “trainee”.
Does anyone out there remember “The Domino Theory”? This was fundamental to US official thinking on Vietnam. If that country fell to the Communists, others would follow and the Red Menace would be so much further on the path to world domination.
Well, Vietnam did fall to the Communists – relatively sane ones – and, of course, Cambodia/Kampuchea fell to the mass killers in the Khmer Rouge. But now we are interminably celebrating the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall: Soviet-style Communism is virtually dead except for Belarus and the Asian “Communist” States are the greatest virtuosos of raw capitalism. It’s red all right, red in tooth and claw.
Undoubtedly, if the West pulls out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will be back in power, girls will be put out of schools and there will be all sorts of other practices that are anathema to people in this part of the world.
That’s unfortunate, to put it mildly. But the real reason the West is in Afghanistan is to prevent the country from being used as again as a training-ground for a second 9/11.
Surely there are other ways of dealing with this threat. If a training-camp is identified, carry out an airstrike. Given the obvious level of corruption in Afghanistan, apparently not least in the present administration which has just come through a dodgy electoral process, surely a few hundred or even thousand spies could be recruited to report on nefarious activities around the place? With all its massive military resources, can’t the West mount an odd commando raid? Do we really feel safer getting on planes because of this war?
British troops did not take part in the Vietnam War but they are suffering heavily in Afghanistan. Unlike the US, British public opinion is rather sluggish in these matters but it would appear that more and more UK citizens are getting increasingly concerned over what looks like a no-win situation.
A few years ago, I travelled up the Khyber Pass to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. All along the way there were memorials to British soldiers who had falled in past, long-forgotten engagements, to no avail.
Futile or what?