Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – Julian Borger wrote an article on US. War on Afghanistan, in Gaurdian. He said, the US war in Afghanistan was not supposed to be another Vietnam. “I don’t do quagmires,” said Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the original US invasion, who died last week. In the end the former US defence secretary did two quagmires, airily assuming Afghanistan was “won” in the spring of 2003 when he sent American troops to fight in Iraq.
US combat troops were in Vietnam for eight years, but they have been in Afghanistan for 20. It has been America’s longest war by far.
Joe Biden has insisted the withdrawal is not quite complete, but the remaining few hundred US troops in Afghanistan are there on guard duty. The abandonment of Bagram airbase on Friday marked the true end to the US military presence in the country.
Built by the Soviet Union in the 1950s, Bagram was the hub of US operations for two decades as well as a notorious prison camp. American aircraft will continue to fly over Afghanistan but they will be launched from “over the horizon”, from warships and bases in other countries.
As in Vietnam, the US is leaving after a peace deal with an enemy it tried to destroy and failed. As in Vietnam, the emboldened enemy is not expected to keep the peace. Saigon held out for two years against the North Vietnamese army after the American withdrawal. Some US intelligence estimates do not even give Kabul six months.
The embassy in the Afghan capital has its own “emergency action plan” for worst-case scenarios, disclosed by Politico on Friday, which inevitably brings back memories of the humiliating scramble from the roof of the Saigon mission in April 1975. Then as now, those who worked with the Americans, such as military interpreters, have been pleading to be evacuated alongside them.
According to the United Nations, at least 50 of Afghanistan’s nearly 400 districts have fallen to the Taliban since May. With the US gone, Afghan civilians are trying to organise self-defence militias to defend their villages against the forces waiting in the countryside around them.
The military lesson of Vietnam was that the US could not conduct a counter-insurgency thousands of miles from home against an ideologically driven enemy rooted in a community that ultimately saw American troops as occupiers. It was a lesson learned – and then forgotten in the fervour that followed the 9/11 attacks.
Rumsfeld thought he could dodge Vietnam’s shadow by using small numbers of US special forces in partnership with local warlords, but that is after all how US involvement in Vietnam began in 1964, with small “A-Team” groups of advisers training regular and paramilitary groups in the south.
By the end in Afghanistan, young Americans were being deployed who were not even born when the war started, in some cases serving alongside their parents who have served multiple tours of duty there.
Both wars worked like a mangle, pulling in more and more troops, money and equipment to justify and protect what had already been spent or lost. Once Americans and Afghans had died to drive out the Taliban, open schools to girls and bolster the army, withdrawal seemed like a betrayal.
That mindset kept the “forever war” going, but that does not mean it was not real. Those picking up guns to defend their villages and many Afghan women and civil society activists now feel betrayed by the departing Americans.
Whatever happens, more death and suffering are inevitable. Joe Biden and the US will not be able to escape some degree of responsibility, even if they are no longer there.