Aren’t people and governments supposed to learn from their mistakes?
With governments, it seems that the only thing learned is how to make the same mistake over and over.
Ask any Vietnam War veteran who spent time in the jungle, fighting the elusive enemy, what mistakes were made.
You can expect to hear stories of natives who appeared to be farmers during the day, but at night became the Viet Cong who knew the territory like the back of their hand. They could kill soldiers, then disappear into the terrain until morning, when they returned to the rice paddies.
American forces would feel they had cleared the socalled enemy out of a village and move on only to find that they had to return over and over and retake the village again.
The enemy was chameleon-like; trying to determine with a look whether a stranger was North or South Vietnamese made as much sense—and was as likely to succeed—as figuring on which side, east or west, a Manhattanite resides.
The Vietnam War was a debacle. Over 58,000 American men and women died—and for what? In the end, the fall of Saigon was marked by the last helicopter flight from the roof of the American Embassy; the renaming of the city for Ho Chi Minh; and the Reunification Day celebration each Apr. 30 that marks the combining of North and South Vietnam into a single country again.
Fast forward a few decades and again, American soldiers are fighting in countries that are as difficult to understand as was Vietnam.
Iraq represents this country’s first foray into the world of religious fanaticism. Sunnis, Shiites, plus the political arm of the Ba’ath and dictators like Saddam Hussein added up to a confusion that America thought it could rectify with democracy and an election. We finally got out of there and left them busily blowing up one another.
With that, we returned to Afghanistan—the country that allowed the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to flourish. We bombarded that desolate piece of land following the attack of 9/11, and thought we had smashed the Taliban. But here we are in those bleak hills again, trying to bring democracy to a tribal nation that prefers its warlords over the ballot box.
To make matters worse, we are now trying to build an Afghan army and a police force that is being sprinkled with Taliban members. We can’t tell the good guys from the bad.
In the past two months, Taliban infiltrators have killed five British soldiers they were supposed to be working with. In October, four American military were killed by counterfeit Afghan policemen.
They have even killed their own people who try to work with the Americans or NATO forces and in their fashion, behead them for good measure.
It’s Vietnam in a desert and the powers that be are still being blindsided by cultures that are totally alien to the American way of life.
Start warming up the helicopters. We’re getting our butts kicked again—on the homefront and abroad.
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