Afghanistan has become Obama’s Vietnam. As the struggle descends into madness, and Kharzai flirts with the Taliban, the country is no closer to stability than it was years ago when we first blasted our way into the countryside in search of the elusive Osama bin Laden.
Pundits have argued that Afghanistan is like Vietnam – or – it isn’t like Vietnam. Set in two different world locations with two distinct geographical and environmental climes, the similarities exist outside these constraints with one over-riding theme: the inability to overcome the opposition for any length of time.
Johnson and Nixon tried in Vietnam – and in the process cost over 58,000 American lives. Bush began the war in Afghanistan but quickly turned to his real target – Iraq. Obama has set his sights back on Afghanistan, where many believe it should have stayed in the first place. But regardless, Afghanistan now belongs to Obama. His legacy will include his attempts to conquer the opposition forces and deliver a stable democracy in Afghanistan. A legacy that will probably fail.
The “war” will play out although no one knows for sure when the last of the troops will arrive back on American soil – they just will. Sadly, the American public isn’t as vocal as it was during Vietnam. But, then again, college students and the youth are not subject to the draft – a leveler that tends to make opposition to war more pressing and urgent to those facing their exportation to foreign soil to fight a foreign war.
Many dissimilarities exist, but the ultimate similarity is that of the inability to win the “hearts and minds” of a people who have battled foreign invaders for decades. So, as the war drags on, and Obama becomes further entrenched in his ownership, and the public demurely turns its face away, the prospect of an enduring Vietnam scenario increases.