|Afghanistan, America, and the “Vietnam” Syndrome
by Sunil Ram
|Global Research, April 18, 2010|
|Frontline Defense – 2010-01-01|
Some years ago, I wrote in an article for the Royal Canadian Military Institute that surmised it was “too easy for those who do not follow history to make glib and simple comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam.” I further noted that “at best, most of these and other comparisons are misleading and at worse they are simply wrong.” Thus, I am loath to make such comparisons with Afghanistan, yet, after some eight years of war, the similarities are more and more striking.
It seems America has forgotten both the lessons of Vietnam and the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, and has fallen back on stupid and arrogant ideas that are simply a rehash of failed tactics and strategies of yesteryear.
It is stunning to hear the same mindless rhetoric of 30, 40 and 50 years ago from current day military leaders in London, Ottawa or Washington. It has not helped that the sycophantic academics, media pundits, and so-called military experts, who all have a vested interest in perpetuating these foolish ideas, propagate them to the ignorant public, government leaders and bureaucrats.
Clearly, Afghanistan is not Vietnam (for obvious reasons revolving around time and space). The Vietnam War was an extension of the decolonization process in post World War II Asia. It was also part of the larger global Cold War struggle between the Soviets and the Americans, and was fought along political and ideological lines. That said, there remain many strategic parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam for the United States.
Ye Olde Crabb sez:
My old mantra still holds: insurgencies in the nature of things are endlessly particularistic. There is little if anything that relates the Tupamaros in urban Montevideo in the 1960s to the Moros in the Philippines in the 1890s to the Vietcong in the Mekong Delta in the 1960s. These were all were generated in intensely local, specialized political, social and economic environments with long and often complicated and virtually [to those who did not have nor took the time] indecipherable histories.
There are no generalizations about fighting all insurgencies that are not vapid; e.g., the army should not steal the peasants’ chickens.
Therefore, there is no such thing as “a science of counter insurgency”, a product of that great American intellectual heresy, social science. [William James warned us about it almost 150 years ago! http://www.todayinsci.com/J/James_William/JamesWilliam-Quotations.htm Read down.]
COIN is total BS and its purveyors are either not too bright or charlatans.