Home | About | Donate

Trump’s Afghanistan ‘Peace’ Will Be Vietnam All Over Again: A Mess America Leaves Behind

So many great people have survived and overcome military experience. I don’t think it improves anyone. (Not any more that the abuse I’ve experienced: Abuse changes us, maybe hardens us – that’s not the kind of improvement anyone needs). Some can recover from the shock of extreme subjugation, many never do.

The distinction for me, among commentators, is whether they seem to regard their own military experience as improving – if they do, they’ve still got some personal work to do, imho.

Bacevich sez:
“At the end of the 17th year of what Americans commonly call the Afghanistan War—one wonders what name Afghans will eventually assign it …”

Perhaps, “The Interment of the U.S. Empire”?
Or maybe, “The War to Drain the U.S. Treasury”.

2 Likes

This sort of observation is hard to argue with, yet, at some level untouched by Bacevich’s obviously ample experience, surprisingly naive.

Yes, indeed, the US will leave a mess when it leaves Afghanistan, during whatever generation this might come to pass. Yes, indeed, this runs parallel to the event in Vietnam in very many ways. However, Bacevich appears to pull away from an other conclusion that ought to be obvious. Invading forces do not leave messes because they leave; they leave messes because they invade.

Of course there is a wave of violence when invaders leave. The forces that remain within the invaded country have to finish retaking sovereignty of the elements of their lives. And the existing power base left by colonial leaders are perforce Quislings, Benedict Arnolds, traitors, sellouts, what-have-you. None of that means that the violence of Hanoi and the Vietnamese patriots and resistance was all altogether justified as they retook the country from the latest succession of Euro-American colonizers. Neither was all the French violence against les collabos et les boches at the end of WWII. Neither was all the violence against tories when England’s American colonies won independence. But it is pointless to imagine that the Nazis had no role in the anger of the French who retook their country or that the British Crown had no role in the anger of the colonists against their tory neighbors. It was at least as naive to imagine that the Americans and the South Vietnamese partners who had collaborated with the horrors of Operation Phoenix, the mass destruction of Agent Orange, and the riddling of the fields and forests with dragontooth bombs would not themselves fall prey to violence. Usually it is not the most beneficent but the most ferocious among us who are the most naive.

Part of the naivete in Bacevich’s apology to Captain Nguyen was not Bacevich’s surprising failure at the time to recognize the violence that would come while everyone around him fled it, nor his apparently unresolved failure to recognize the extent of the damage that US involvement had inflicted, nor the failure to recognize how that damage guaranteed and necessitated just that violence, nor even the failure to recognize that Captain Nguyen himself had been deeply complicit in shooting up and bombing his own country and countrymen for the convenient favors of foreign invaders and surely knew this far better than did Bacevich, but that part of the reality of colonial invasion is that it sets up this exact sort of mess. For whatever reasons, Nguyen likely imagined that he had found the only way forward–like Quisling, like the collabos, like Arnold and in some ways like the children of the poor within the States who put on uniforms for college credit, so that the rich may sic them against a next set of victims.

It is the business of empire to make traitors of its children.

It is very nice that the US is at least considering leaving behind the mess that it has made of Afghanistan. Of course the mess will roll on as a mess without American help: the work of George W and Barack Obama as well as Donald Trump and of course of all the kings’ soldiers and all the kings’ men have assured that. Of course, it is a horrible mess. And if Donald Trump leaves it–which he has not, at this point, and may not–if he really leaves it without leaving a cotillion of CIA and mercenaries behind to guard the company poppy business, then that is a better move than any we have seen made in the larger region by any of his recent predecessors.

Sadly, it is way too early to award Trump credit for this; he has not done it and likely will not. But that also makes it early for weird attempts to score political points for anyone over the still-unacted action.

What can one say? “Yes, Andrew Becevich, it’s Chinatown”?

2 Likes

The supposed ‘safeguards’ Obama instituted allowed him to murder a 16 year old American citizen with one of his drones. Also, Obama launched at least 4 times as many drones as Bush. Those are like the safeguards Rush Limbaugh employs regarding prescription opiates.

Liberals need to cure their blindness regarding Obama. He was the greatest Trojan Horse in American history. He wrapped Bush-style warmongering in pseudo MLK cadence. Liberals ate it up, but it’s way past time to let the illusion die.

2 Likes

You should check the stats on drone kills. You’ll be surprised at how participatory tRump has been in the Death Machine.

You get zero credit for calling off an attack you ordered. The point is he ordered one.

Thank you!

I have no blindness about Obama - since I never saw him as a Progressive person to begin with and certainly continually objected to his use of drones throughout his administration.

The data is clear though on the point I made above about civilian deaths from drone attacks under the Trump administration having gone up tremendously. Trump has had both more drone missions by far and more civilian deaths per mission (owing to the removal of the system that had been in place for approval).

1 Like

Actually, the point is that the attack did not happen.

This sounds like quibbling but Obama’s drone attacks went up 4X the Bush number.
Trump’s increase in drone attacks isn’t up anywhere near as much.
In some ways this an apples to oranges comparison: Circumstances on which nations and who within them are attacked change over time.

In other words, yes, Obama set stricter rules on drone attacks. On some countries. In some instances. Civilian deaths were lower under Obama, but Trump rolled up big numbers in Syria – where ISIS was purposely embedded among civilians.

I’m not calling Trump a hero. He’s an asshole.

1 Like

I’m not sure if that’s correct or not so I need to check out the source documents on that point. Meanwhile this article and this article actually puts it right at the 4X level (i.e. a bit more missions in two years as Obama had in 8 years on both a theater by theater comparison as well as on a total worldwide basis).

1 Like

An example of pples to oranges from the Sun Times article:

“The Trump administration has carried out 176 strikes in Yemen in just two years, compared with 154 there during all eight years of Obama’s tenure, according to a count by The Associated Press and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.”

Obama drone attacked Al Qaeda positions in Yemen. His attacks on the Houthi rebels were minimal, the Houthis were thought to be defeated sooner or later – they weren’t. So Trump came to Saudi’s rescue by ramping up the drone attacks on Houthi positions – and still the Houthis are winning. What I’m saying is, Trump is terrible but he’s following the Obama program:

Pretty true - but he’s doing it more and with more willingness to allow civilian casualties and less transparency (Pentagon no longer reports drone missions outside of war theaters while all drone missions were previously reported and is no longer required to provide data on civilian casualties so values for this administration are clearly underestimates).

Anyway - nothing to support in either administration on the use of drones so no need to belabor the point.

1 Like

Ooohhh…Trump relising that he is following in Obomber footsteps is really going to piss him off and probably make him do something different. Worse? Who knows…

1 Like

Tulsi’s caveat is that she was and is a medic. Accept that as an excuse, or not.

He is leaving Afghanistan. He is not a warmonger. Bolton was forced on him. I see Trump as downsizing and isolating the US. But I think Bernie can do it without hurting the American people as much as Trump has.

1 Like

The mess left behind…
I would be interested in knowing more about our military’s lucrative drug trade, in regard to the Afghanistan exit. Are they arranging to continue the supply to our needy addicts?

I can’t say that I know the details. Usually they are easier to get in deep retrospect.

Not buying that Bolton was forced on him, but yes, I think Trump campaigned on reducing US military entanglement and has largely followed through. That’s one of the only times he told the truth. But the Trump derangement Syndrome is strong around here, and giving Trump – who is the most clueless president in history, despite this relatively praiseworthy military posture – even a modicum of credit rankles our fellow commenters.

But that happened in 2016, too. When I pointed out that Trump was running as a populist on positions to Hillary’s left (which were mostly nonsense, Trump’s lying is his trademark), I was branded a Putin Puppet, and Trump supporter.

1 Like

It’s strange that people generally consider the promotion of war as something rooted in ethnic, racist, and/or religious prejudices. Although governments exploit these prejudices to promote war, it is clear to me from examining the actions of the last few presidents that war is about power, cruelty, and wealth.
War wastes resources and the environment like no other human activity. Greta, can you add pacifism to your platform or is that asking too much?

1 Like