Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Afghanistan is not Vietnam... it’s worse

This weekend, the US will have occupied Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union did in the 1980s. Often credited for helping bring down the Soviet empire, the occupation of Afghanistan is often referred to as the USSR’s Vietnam. America’s own occupation of Afghanistan is also referred to by many as Vietnam redux. New York Times blogger Richard Wright disagrees: he says the war in Afghanistan is quite a bit more harmful to America than Vietnam.

He writes: And how many anti-American jihadists has the war created on the battlefield itself? There’s no telling, but recent headlines suggest this admittedly impressionistic conclusion: We’re creating them faster than we’re killing them. And some of these enemies, unlike the Vietcong, could wind up killing Americans after the war is over — in South Asia, in the Middle East, in Europe, in America.

[...]

Al Qaeda’s ideology offers nothing that many of the world’s Muslims actually want — except, perhaps, when they feel threatened by the West, a feeling that isn’t exactly dulled by the presence of American troops in Muslim countries.


None of this is particularly revolutionary to students of world history. Overreach inevitably causes empires to collapse, by creating hostility and resentment and suppressing national and cultural identity. This hostility and resentment usually mystifies the imperial power who has deluded itself to believe that people want to be dominated by foreigners, so long as those outsiders deem themselves ‘enlightened.’ The power thinks that if it replaces one for of overlordship with another, the victims will be grateful for Change. In essence, the imperial power thinks that its own perceived beneficience and omnipotence invalidates human nature.

I almost forgot something that Rep. Dennis Kucinich pointed out: Afghanistan is already America’s longest war... and with no end in sight.

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