Afghanistan, still the new Vietnam ?

August 24, 2009

Try hard as you can, there doesn’t seem to be any escaping from comparing America’s eight-year war in Afghanistan to the one it fought in Vietnam.

Every now and then, either when there is a fresh setback or a key moment in Afghanistan’s turbulent history, like last week when it went to the polls to choose a president, the debate flares anew.

Foreign Policy magazine has a provocative piece headlined “Saigon 2009: Afghanistan is today’s Vietnam. No question mark needed.” No matter who wins last week’s election, America is certainly not winning the war in Afghanistan because it is committing the same mistakes it did in Vietnam, authors Thomas H.Johnson and M Chris Mason argue.

The parallels are just too strong, too structural to be ignored. Both Afghanistan and Vietrnam (prior to U.S. engagement there) had surprisingly defeated a European power in a guerrilla war that lasted a decade, followed by a civil war which last another decade. Insurgents in both enjoyed the advantage of a long, trackless and unclosable border and sanctuary beyond it, the authors say.

Both were land wars in Asia with logistics lines more than 9,000 miles long and extremely harsh terrain with few roads, which nullified U.S. advantages in ground mobility and artillery. Almost exactly 80 percent of the population of both countries was rural, and literacy hovered around 10 percent. In both countries, the United States sought to create an indigenous army modeled in its own image, based on U.S. army organization charts.

But above all, the United States has consistently and profoundly misunderstood the nature of the enemy in each circumstance, the authors say. “In Vietnam, the United States insisted on fighting a war against communism, while the enemy was fighting a war of national reunification. In Afghanistan, the United States still insists on fighting a secular counterinsurgency, while the enemy is fighting a jihad.”.  In short, it is hard, almost impossible, to defeat an enemy you don’t understand.

Already, like the Vietnam war, support is starting to dwindle at home with a Washington Post-ABC poll showing the number of Americans who believed the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting slipping to below 50 percent.

Is Afghanistan already starting to weigh on President Barack Obama, then ? The New York Times this weekend questioned whether he was fated to be another Lyndon B. Johnson,  and not another Abraham Lincoln or the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt as his supporters portrayed him to be even before he took office.

Each presidency is different, but it is “the L.B.J. model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domesticprogram,” the newspaper said.  Obama himself  has expressed concern that Afghanistan may yet hijack his presidency, it reported based on accounts of a group of historians who had dinner with him at the White House this summer.

Like Johnson, Obama has framed Afghanistan as a war of necessity and not choice. Just as Johnson had no choice but to fight in Vietnam to contain communism,  America has to be engaged in Afghanistan as the bulwark against international terrorism.  “Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban  insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans,” he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their convention in Phoenix last week.

But is it really a war of necessity ? Richard Haas, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations, argues it was necessary to go into Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, but no longer to remain there. Wars of necessity must meet two tests, he says in an op-ed in the New York Times. They must involve vital national interests, and second, a lack of viable alternatives to the use of military power to defend those interests.

While it was necessary to invade Afghanistan to oust the Taliban,  now that there is a friendly government in Kabul is it necessary to maintain a military presence ? While it is true that the government is weak, and unable to enforce its writ in large parts of the country, it is equally true that terrorism cannot be eliminated even if you had a strong government, Haas argues.

 Militants could still operate from Afghanistan and would put down roots elsewhere. And Pakistan’s future would remain uncertain at best.

Moreover, he says  there are alternatives available.  The United States can begin to curtail  ground combat operations and emphasise drone attacks on militants, the training of Afghan police officers and soldiers, development and diplomacy to fracture the Taliban.

A more radical approach would be withdraw completely and focus on regional and global counter-terrorism efforts and homeland security initiatives to protect the United States from threats that may emanate from Afghanistan, Haas suggests, In that sense, Afghanistan would resemble the approach toward Somalia and other countries where governments are unable or unwilling to take on militants, and the United States eschews military confrontation.

But is the world ready for that ?

[Photographs of Afghan women voting, U.S. troops in Bagram and Obama in Phoenix last week]


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Posted by Pakistan: Now or Never? » Blog Archive » Afghanistan, still the … | Afghanistan Today | Report as abusive

Did America win the war in Iraq or did we just walk away in defeat hoping no one would notice or say anything? No, America meddles too much in other countries’ affairs. This nation got what it deserved on 9/11 and everybody knows it. Afghanistan will be yet another eyesore for America’s failed foreign policy, a policy that is pro-Israel regardless of what Israel does. It is no secret that the Jews control America’s economy and government. Unless something is done about that, America will always be in perpetual war with some Arab nation.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

in vietnam russia (a superpower then) was somewhat great power or super power is involved in afghanistan this time in the support of talibans.USA should stick to afghanistan, and the world should support them to make afghanistan another japan (post WW2). none of the countries except pakistan want the talibans back.leaving afghanistan now would be committing the same mistake of the last time when the world left afghanistan to the mercy of pakistan and the taliban. and see what happened.

Posted by indian | Report as abusive

Is it the lack of originality in the US political discourse that these two things happen: (1) whenever there is a president one disagrees with, that person is immediately compared to Hitler; (2) whenever there is an overseas war, it is immediately compared to Vietnam. Both exercises are mind-numbingly dull and self-defeating.As for what Afghanistan is, maybe it would help if commentators would start referring to it in the correct lexicon. Wars are, by definition, fought between national standing armies. The Afghan War was over when the Taliban government was routed. In all these years, Afghanistan has been an ongoing PEACEKEEPING OPERATION – one in which all the major powers of the world have a stake. The mindset that there is a “war” is completely disingenious. Treating it as such, and using the tools of war-making when the goals are building a lasting post-war peace, will not bring a desirable outcome.The long-term future and stability in Afghanistan lies in a successful peace building operation that needs to take on a more international character, that incorporates more international partners who have a stake in its outcome. I doubt, for example, that India, Russia or China wants a return of Afghanistan to a Taliban-controlled terrorist state that would threaten their regional interests. However, so long as Afghanistan is presented in the context of an America-led war with ill-defined objectives, the US will have to shoulder the overwhelming burden of securing that country.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

There are 2 major differences between the Vietnam war & the current war in Afghanistan/Pakistan:1) The North Vietnamese insurgency was backed by 2 major allies i.e. the Soviet Union & China, while the militants/terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan aren’t backed by any major ally (the biggest supporter to certain terror outfits is the Pak army & ISI).2) The Vietnamese did not pose any direct threat to Americans in America or elsewhere but the terrorists being fought against in Af/Pak have shown that they can & will hurt Americans & their allies on their home turf & elsewhere, if left unchecked. That’s the reason why America can’t back off from Af/Pak without eliminating terrorism or else it won’t take much time for Afghanistan/Pakistan to return to pre-9/11 conditions.I also feel that Afghanistan is given way too much credit for defeating the Soviets. If America wouldn’t have explicitly funded, supported & trained the Mujahadeen, there’s a good chance that Afghanistan & probably even Pakistan would’ve been Soviet colonies, today.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Seems to me terrorists could plan and carry out attacks from anywhere in the world including the USA. I am sure the US government are aware of this.

Posted by Gareth | Report as abusive

Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan.Only solution to present problem of Instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the Union of Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on the basics principles of Democracy in which Government should be composed of representatives of all sections of society and regions, No one will be dominant to each other, and that country will be easily governable by Government, In history Durani Empire was composed of all areas in which today Pakistan and Afghanistan are located, During Mughal Empire both Afghanistan and Pakistan were a single country, During initial period of British Empire they were also same country, During British Empire, some vested interest forces kept at distance to both these lands from each other , Due to which borders between these two countries have become hiding place for criminals of both countries and theft automobiles and others stolen assets are stored in this region, this large uncontrollable region is basis of many evils , Narcotics are grown in these areas ,and addiction of which is destroying youths and humanity and due to poverty and non development, people are going towards extremism and militancy, Union of both countries will make the single government of this region more responsible in stabilizing the region and in satisfying the nationalistic pride of people and people will be able to serve humanity as other large nations of world are serving the humanity, other wise this region will always remain as a nuisance for world, as this region already has destroyed Soviet Union it may also take down to western world which will be a great blow to development of Science and Technology specially Medical science.Advantages to world.Control of Terrorism:Instability in this region is causing great damage to humanity, soldiers of USA and NATO are sacrificing their lives just to eliminate Terrorists from these countries, while by unification it will become sole responsibility of the people and government of unified nation to control terrorists and it will be more convenient for that government to administer as there will be unity in chain of command.Control of Extremism:As unified nation will be composed of multiethnic groups such as Punjabies,Sindhies,Baloachs, Pukhtoons,Urdu speakers,Tajiks, Persians and Hazaras and will be composed of multisectarian society such as Sunni and Shiites it will become impossible for any ethnic group or religious sect to find any future in extremismStabilization of Region:Although now a days in this region there is problem of terrorism but infact from a long time (about 50 years) this region is suffering from instability, reason is that people of this region are finding no hope and future for themselves due to division of this region and interference of large nations such as Soviet Union, USA, China and India but when the people of this region were unified at the time of Durani Empire this region was stable and same was case during Mughal Empire..As there are three main groups in Asia i.e. Chinese, Hindues and Muslims. Chinese and Hindues are satisfied with their Dominion states of China and India, but as there is no large state of Muslims in Asia while their numerical population is greater than Chinese and Hindues, therefore Muslims are suffering from distress which is causing instability and irritation in common Muslims, therefore by creation of a unified state of Pakistan and Afghanistan a sense of satisfaction and respect with the existence of a national state will be achievedSolution to Economic Problems.At present both countries are burden on other countries and in fact are a barrier in exploring the resources of Central Asia by world. After stabilization it will be useful for not only for Central Asia and World but also for the new unified nation itselfAdvantages to Pakistan:It was the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam to unify region of West Pakistan with Afghanistan and East Pakistan with Malysia and Indonesia and that is still the need of time.• By unification with Afghanistan, areas which are included in Pakistan will be stabilized, and migration of people from disturbed areas will be stopped,• Law and order situation due to smuggling of weapons from Afghanistan will come to an end.• Similarly illicit drug trade will be minimized.• Whole areas of Pukhtoons speaking population will become unified and which will be helpful for development of culture and language of that group which is now divided in two nations.• Security measures expenses on borders will be minimized which may be used for welfare of people.• Interference of other nations in this region will be stopped.• Due to historical and unique region and having importance for Buddhism and Hindues religion, tourism industry will be flourished and business activity in the region will be increased,Advantages to Afghanistan:• By unification status of Afghanistan as land lock country will come to an end, and Union will increase the freedom of people of Afghanistan for travel and economic activity,• Extremism and terrorism will come to and end, as the people will become more engaged and involved in adjusting themselves in new union. it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan ,• Security and military expenses will be minimized,• Doors of job for people of Afghanistan in Pakistan will opened ,the desire of unification of people of Afghanistan with people of Pakistan will be fulfilled.• Shortage of food products in Afghanistan will be decreased and it will increase the utilization of raw products of Afghanistan in the region.• Due to linkage of central Asia via Afghanistan, will cause extraordinary development in the whole region.From all above points it is clear that unification of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be fruitful for every one and for world at large by each and every angle.Written By:M.AKRAM KHANEmail:akrumniazi@hotmail.comBaldia Town,Karachi.Pakistan.

Posted by M.AKRAM NIAZI | Report as abusive

Ah. The mighty American army.The best trained, well equipped, most financed mobile military force on the planet.But like all western nations, it has a critical flaw. A flaw which has led to countless defeats in history.And that flaw is a weak willed population.Just as that population forced the military to lose the Vietnam war, so too does it seek to defeat us in Afganistan and Iraq.It will be interesting to see if Obama caves to public pressure, or if he continues the war as he knows he must.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive

Why would we unify Pakistan and Afganistan?Few people in either nation are willing to lose their nation in such a collective.And Pakistan barely has control over it’s own nation. The concept that it can also control Afganistan is laughable.Perhaps the job should be given to India. As history has shown, they have a much better military anyway.

Posted by JoeyJoeJoe Jr Shabadoo | Report as abusive

It was the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam to unify region of West Pakistan with Afghanistan and East Pakistan with Malysia and Indonesia and that is still the need of time.-M AKRAM NIAZIYeah, right mate. After the way you treated East Pakistan with racisim towards the Bengalis, I doubt very much that this so-called vision of yours will hold. Pakistan can hardly even hold itself together. The way you nurtured the Taliban from your madrassas and exported them to Afghanistan converting it into a barbaric, stone age, bigoted, totalitarian regime with systematic killings of the Huzars and other different ethnicities. Oh sure, peace will prevail…NOT!

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Joey,Indian troops in Afghanistan (even at Afghanistan’s invitation) will annoy the Pakistanis to no end.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Hmm… You said:”Ah. The mighty American army.The best trained, well equipped, most financed mobile military force on the planet.But like all western nations, it has a critical flaw. A flaw which has led to countless defeats in history.And that flaw is a weak willed population.Just as that population forced the military to lose the Vietnam war, so too does it seek to defeat us in Afganistan and Iraq.It will be interesting to see if Obama caves to public pressure, or if he continues the war as he knows he must.”–>Hmmm… you are wrong. The American population is not weak willed, it just values human life a lot more than undemocratic eastern countries do. Take a look at China, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi, or any African country. Where the citizens behead, or are willing to die needlessly, those citizens just have not grasped the gift of life and how precious it is, therefore they are willing to die more easily, as it offers an easier way out. In countries, where people actually have a future, there are human rights, and people enjoy a good standard of life, those populations are not willing to put themselves in harms way so easily. That is not a weak population my friend, that is a self-realized population that is not willing to die for any useless cause, stirred up by haphazard leaders willing to have other’s children killed in war, but not their own. There is a distinction.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

For years, I also have looked at the map and ethnicity and trade routes and neighboring countries and I also had concluded that the territory of Afghanistan and Pakistan need each other very much, lest they fall prey to balkanization and multiply the political problem. Keep in mind, they don’t have to unify as one single country in a way that obliterates the previous people’s identity. They can unify as two states in a federal republic. Just because countries like the US had 13 to start with doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a 2 state federation. Maybe Kashmir and Jammu would get the option of joining some day if there was no war between them because of it.But for effective confederation, the Swiss Model comes to mind. These are a smart and not at all lazy (if fairy illiterate people) who have worked very hard all their lives. They could put together a new version of a Swiss federation that takes into consideration existing prefectures of existing countries. There are many men on both sides of the existing border who are known and popular on both sides. They could and should confederate if only to make sure outside countries don’t dictate to them. They will still have a relatively small economy, but the previous claim about their very important geo-position is true. There is MUCH to be gained from having a territory stabilized from terrorism camps, narcotics agriculture, and kidnapping. Pipeline income alone should make them consider this combining, BUT, pipelines will not be built through semi-stable country-side. They will need a militia like the Spanish Guardia Civil, one that the natives know will not hesitate to shoot if their keeping the peace is jeopardized. By comparison China has not paid very dearly regarding the the world’s condemnation for their heavy handedness in Tibet and in Xingian (east Turkestan). (not to mention Tianamen)But this idea for combining of countries must guided by at least one strong rule; – They must want it for themselves, they must think of it as their own idea whose time has come. They must see it as their own fate from Allah, or it has nary a chance at all. But it does smack of destiny, in a way that resonates with a strength we all wish for these people to own. Please help us help them to consider it. Please. They would be doing the world a great favor to make such a larger and coordinated population an example to the rest of the world, to the rest of the Muslim world as well.That some people fear the potential power of this proposed federation is the litmus test that it is a valid idea and needs to be considered by the people there. We should NOT be wondering if we can talk them into it, we should be readying for the day they get the idea and we can no longer stop them, lest we be left as observers of no influence. May Allah guide them all, may this happen in our lifetime. TC

Posted by TimC | Report as abusive

[…] but the truth is that the donkey deserves that tail every bit as much as the elephant did. Some even want to say that the current administration finds itself in a Vietnam-like predicament, and, right or wrong, […]

Posted by An Interview With a Combat Soldier in Iraq « Vox Nova | Report as abusive

Some perspective is required the Afghan mission has change three times first the point was to remove the Taliban from power because they would not hand over Bin Laden after 9/11 and to hunt al-Qaida. Second was a holding pattern after 2003 to win one hold one, third removal of the holding pattern 2009 and nation building which will result in the end game. Then the civil and UN project will continue for an unlimited period of time more than a decade.The holding pattern in Afghanistan has only been lifted this year, it was win one Iraq, hold one Afghanistan. Another 5 years is required from this year. With an increase in total of 60,000 troops over the next 3 years. 60,000 troops can go in this year but the foot print will be too large and result in an large causalty rate per month. An insurgency is a battle of attrition therefore the 60,000 troops are sent in 20,000 blocks over the next three years limiting casualties due to the gradual increase of the foot print. Once the cap on US forces is reached I cannot see it being increased, problem with nam was the cap was adopted in the later stages of the war not early on as it has been now. But 60,000 boots on the ground are need over the next three years. Afghaistan is not like Iraq so the same strategy in one large surge is going to be different than in Iraq due to the different geography.Inline with the ANA and ANP reaching their manpower levels to have a combined number of over 500,000 depending on the APPF. This with the COIN model will allow most of the country to be control be ISAF/US/ANA forces, over that build up the enemy forces will be made less capable and the shura will become less co-ordinated due to the target killings. With those number on the ground territory can be siezed held and controlled for the new ANA units and ANP to take over as ISAF/US/ANA forces fan out into other areas to sieze and hold territory. This is the end game, it will leave the Afghan Government whomever it is after this election and the next election in a position to control their own country by counter terrorism operations against the beligerents who will always refuse to adopt peace and prevent the country from slipping back into a full scale civil war in the short to medium term. Of course civil and UN projects will contiune for more than a decade after that date in 5 years, with the Afghans providing security for those operations.In 5 years it will be the end of major combat operations in Afghanistan. The Chief of the Australia Defense Force recently stated he see’s this as a 5 year operation before the Afghan’s are ready for the withdrawal of all combat forces from in country.The Talib shura will stop fighting if the ISAF/US pull back to their bases and then withdraw in 8 months after that occurs the Afghan Government will not last more than one month. All the ISAF/US are doing is setting conditions which give the Afghan Government the best chance of holding on to the country. At present this is a International mission, once the international forces leave then it will be an Afghan counter terrorism mission, depending on how well they are prepared will result in if the country will fall into a civil war once the international forces leave.The point the terrorists need to remember is that it is not a problem launching military operations to remove a government from power such as the Taliban or Saddam the problems come from the insurgency that follows trying to rebuild a country and install democracy. The intial battle is the easy part, just as Meshud who threaten to attack the US mainland with terror this year is now deceased. If you do international terror against the US they will not sit back and do nothing they will come for you where you sleep and come heavy.It will look the same as what is going on in Chechnya the war is over and the secuirty operations prevent the country from falling back into civil war, it will be a bit worse in Afghanistan because of the tribal culture. That is a success and the economic development, civil and UN projects are the key to that.It is bad this year because the holding pattern has been lifted and they enemy does not like it as the fight has been take right up to them and it will be bad next year also.The current debate is the same with Iraq pre-surge but we stayed the course in the face of all the negative talk of defeat. When we handed it over to the Iraqi’s it was fixed. Once the handover occurred it was mission accomplished, what you do with after that is your problem if you need another SOFA it may be considered.If we do not follow the end game to the letter in 10 years the US will be accussed of doing the same thing after the war with the Soviets in relation to Afghanistan this time around.Just keep visiting this site to see the addition of the skull and bones to the senior Talib commanders over the next 5 years. anistan_(2001%E2%80%93present)

Posted by TCMSOLS | Report as abusive

Alas the US never learn from history, Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bush all the neocons brought it upon America. With the US economy in doldrums, US Government deficit over the next decade jump to $9 Trillion from $ 7.1 Trillion it is all too evident.The Afghan war diverted Soviet attention from Warsaw pact nations, which took the opportunity to become more rebellious. The war itself was an economic drain and failure in the war gave Soviet regime opponents an increasing strong platform to attack it. All these factors contributed to the downfall of the Soveit Union.Today US is facing the same situation, can Afghanistan war effort be salvaged? Will states like Iran and North Korea buy more time. Iran might not be a screw drivers turn away from the bomb. But while US is bogged down with AFPAK Iran is buying more time.Perhaps US must forge a true alliance with Pakistan and work to stabilize AFPAK.Long Live Pakistan!

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

The Afghan war is a total waste and it is not winable as long as aid projects are enriching corrupt ministers. Sth Vietnam was corrupt so 50K GI died in vain.Now Obama can ill afford to spend billions on a long war.Now the US is mired in recession and financial mess.The mantra back then was to stop the spread of communism, now to stop terorism.Treat the people with dignity, give them services then Taliban will be banished

Posted by ed | Report as abusive

@Advantages to Pakistan:It was the vision of Founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam to unify region of West Pakistan with Afghanistan and East Pakistan with Malysia and Indonesia and that is still the need of time.”Written By:- Posted by M.AKRAM NIAZI-Really, did Jinnah say that? The fashion these days is to say WHATEVER and label it as “Jinnah’s vision”!Good exercise you did though. Jinnah divided India by Muslim tag and you are dreaming to unite Af-Pak by Muslim tag. Come out of this religion-based mindset. It has proven to be non-viable. have you not realized yet?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Response to M.AKRAM NIAZI:Nice fiction, funny to read your dream of Greater Pakistan. How about doing the same things you talk about without colonizing Afghanistan.It inolves a 2 step process, much shorter to read and understand than your long fiction:1) Punjabi army and ISI stop (or forced to stop) using terrorism, terrorists in the region.2) People of Pakistan and Afghanistan live in peace, and work on the same things you list as independent countries respecting each other.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Hopefully, President Obama doesn’t make the same mistake in Afghanistan that Bill Clinton made in Somalia. And, the Vietnam “War” could have been settled much differently with objective news reporting.

Posted by Gramps III | Report as abusive

JoeyJoey if the Indian security forces are so great then how come a handful of lightly armed militants came in on some fishing boats and took over you main city Mumbai for days on end? And how come 700,000 of your forces trying brutally for years and years still cannot control only 5 million Kashmiris who want their freedom from India? So please stop showing off about India. All you guys are good for is mimicking you western Bara Sahibs (read US) benefactors who are happy using your cheap labor and technicians while your Bollywood has destroyed the minimal values and culture that you used to have at one time. Pakistan and Afghanistan simply need to be left alone and free to solve their own problems without western imperialist interventions. PERIOD FULL STOP!

Posted by Shami | Report as abusive

Shami,You logic is screwed up. This is like praising the local thief for stealing while there is a whole police force in town. Thieves have been stealing from public for ages. This does not mean that the police are dumb.The US has the mightiest of all air forces in the world. Yet nine mentally deranged religious fanatics flew planes into their buildings with no one stopping them.Do not sing praises for criminals just because those who are hurt are your dear enemies. They are nameless and innocent people. They do not deserve to die at the hands of anyone. The police and security forces took that long to flush the criminals out because they were hiding in the middle of innocent people. It is very difficult for any military or security forces to separate out the militants and kill them when there are hundreds of people in the middle.Indian security forces as well as militaries across the world are trained to fight regular wars in battle fields. Urban terrorism needs a new kind of force that eliminates the threat even before it starts. There is no security system in the world right now that is advanced enough to handle terrorists who train with no value for human life. By priding with them, you are indirectly acknowledging your support for them. Remember that you too can be a victim of the same elements.

Posted by Mauryan | Report as abusive

It is cowardly and easy to kill unarmed people. That is why those terrorists used such tactics. Because they can’t fight fair.All that proves is that terrorists are cowards. And you will recall that those militants were soon killed by security forces.In all conflicts, India’s military has shown superiority. The most historic of these being when they liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan.The unconditional surrender of East Pakistan still stands as the greatest humiliating defeat in military history.In fact, most military action by Pakistan has been humiliating to them. This is why people are so afraid that Pakistan may not be able to fight terrorism.

Posted by JoeyJoeJoe | Report as abusive

@ Global Watcher:Fairly unlikely. The main issue is that:1) Americans do not like the idea that their nation is at war, and/or2) They do not want to risk American lives or money for the freedom of another nation.And in order to polish this over (being self centered reasons), they come up with all kinds of rationalization.You believe that the anti-war protestors are such, because they value human life. But the results of America pulling out will be untold death, enslavement and suffering.How does abandoning the oppressed fit into the anti-war supporter’s valuation of human life? Or don’t they bother to think that far?In fact, that is an interesting question:”Where were all the peace protesters when Saigon fell?”

Posted by Haha | Report as abusive

Shami,What you have written, well, the same can be said for your Pakistani forces that support terrorist networks to use against India in places like Kashmir. The attack on Mumbai proved beyond any shadow of doubt is that Pakistan is a Terrorism Nation. Yet, what did Pakistan do? Deny that Kasab was a Pakistani only to admit it later. Pakistan cannot fight any convetional wars because it has lost them all (e.g. 1971). Your Pak forces were extremely reluctant to fight against the Taliban, but Amreeka was there to make sure their wallet was not empty. Amreeka is giving your Pakistan $1.5bn a year and on top of that they are going to help you with your energy concerns, but they are still enemy number one to you.Kashmir is an integral part of India. Nothing happened there until YOUR Pakistani forces trained terrorists came along and killed and threw out the indigenous Kashmiri Pundits in 1989. You keep on sending your terrorists across the LoC and have the nerve to blame India for breaking treaties and accords. You just want to provoke India into attacking Pakistan so all the Taliban and Pakistani forces can unite together and kill the Kaffir.As for Bollywood (LOL). Even your Pakistani cinemas in the larger cities DO NOT show your Lollywood movies because they are not making any money. At then end of the day it is ENTERTAINMENT. You are desperately reaching for excuses to curse Bollywood, but fail miserably. Even your Pakistani actors come to Mumbai to find work because they can earn more money and not face threats from the Taliban and their cohorts.The last time Pakistan and Afghanistan were left alone is how terrorism commenced. Taliban from your Pak madrassas went along to Afghanistan and took over introducing a backward, stone age, barbaric, totalitarian regime. Killing the Huzaars and other minor ethnicities of Afghanistan. Yet to Pakistan, the Taliban were a legitimate government. The Taliban hosted Osama and Al Qaeda and the rest is history in the making.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

If you view it from a US neocolonial perspective, then it might be the “new Vietnam”, but if you look at it from the Afghan’s indigenous perspective this looks more like “old Afghanistan” with NATO replacing the USSR.Recent events seem to confirm this. The question now is not whether NATO has “lost” Afghanistan. It clearly has. The question is when will it admit defeat pack and leave this wretched region to its cruel destiny.The financial crisis still biting in Natoland, with only very weak signs of recovery, and a USA national debt spiraling out of control, I think taxpayers will decide that too much has been spent on adventurism. The sight of flag-draped coffins will only reinforce the public disgust and frustration about these wars.

Posted by Oscar Lima | Report as abusive

Zulfiqar Mehsud (Hakimullah is his nom de guerre) is the new head of the Pakistani Taliban. His first action would be to avenge (BADLA) Baitullah Mehsud’s death by the Americans.Oh well, let the cycle of violence continue. By the way what ‘badla’ did India take against Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks? NOTHING!Pakistani government want cordial visits with hand shakes and smiles and cups of tea with civilized conversations about peace. All the while reserving their right to nurture terrorist outfits against India.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

The world is full of hate based upon where you were born. No one will ever see each others point. This problem is going to go the way it has to. No one is right and no one is wrong. Your thinking is a product of where you were born. These forums are so pointless.

Posted by henry | Report as abusive

The US will do the same thing in Afghanistan as it did in Iraq. Go in, hold, hold, hold, take losses, hold, take losses, hold for as long as they can, and then realize that the people who they are trying to win over with candy and toys are the same people who are putting bombs on the convoy route at night. These wars (Iraq/Afghanistan) are more about securing energy supplies then democracy. What kind of primitive election can they have when 90% of the people can’t read? How does a debate happen about ideas or candidates when there is no security for people to leave their houses…

Posted by aron | Report as abusive

@HahaYou said”In fact, that is an interesting question:“Where were all the peace protesters when Saigon fell?”–>Red Cross, Unicef, Doctors without borders, help those with Aids, Tsunami Help, these are but a few of the hundreds of American Charitable organizations, which are funded by the average U.S. Citizen, who donates their money.The peace protestors, most of them are usually 18-25 years of age, people who are young and and have not formed their opinion fully of the world yet and nor do they completely understand the complex underlying issues involving war. The protestors are uninformed youth and they don’t completely understand the nature of their protests and the consequences of pulling out of a country early. All the media allows its citizens to see is the wounded and dead soldiers who come home and this along with a Government that fails to take care of its soldiers and their families, at times, often sparks the Anti-War outrage. It a lot more complicated than a mere “where are all the peace protestors, when Saigon fell?” In fact there were millions of protestors protesting when Saigon fell…check your facts.

Posted by Global | Report as abusive

@Shami,What has Pakistan given the world? Nothing good, only Islamic Terrorism. Do you remember 911 my friend. Why don’t you ask American why they did not stop it? Are you going to join Hamid Gul in the elaborate Jewish-RAW-CIA nexxus conspiracy story and say that they made it up to make Osama Bin Laden look bad, when OBL actually admitted it and Khalid Sheik Mohammed admitted planning the details and Mohammed Atta Khan and friends were traced doing the deed?The fact of the matter is, that western democracies are not run like military police states, with a security and military watch on every mile of shoreline, because democracies focus on civilian development as a whole and most have loosely guarded borders. Secondly, India and the U.S. BOTH had communication break-downs in their police and intelligence. That happens, but there are also many times, known and unknown when the perpetrators are actually caught, like in the UK and they turn out to be Pakistani terrorists, posing as “Students” abroad. Democracies are delicate in this way, and that is a consequence of being a democracy, that those who dont’ like them will always try to destroy them.If democracy is so distasteful to you Pakistani’s please quit using ball point pens, PC computers, gasoline, cars, quit watching T.V. and listening to your CD music and Videos. These are all things you enjoy that were invented by Democratic Societies, not by societies like the one in Pakistan. If you cannot swallow that, or admit that truth and be honest with yourself, go and join the Taliban and keep your mouth shut.(Even the Taliban use Laptops….how laughable).Getting back to your original question, all the fine things that make your life fun everyday, were invented by Democratic societies, your type of society would not have given human kind one productive thing in a million years. Your question on “if there security and army is so good, why did Mumbai happen and why is there 700,000 troops?”…the answer is simple….democracy was being attacked and there are 700,000 troops to keep parity with Pakistani troops, as Pakistan lies repeatedly and needs to be kept in check. Who knows when Pakistan, state agencies or non-state actors, or what ever excusable names your politicians are using now, are planning the next Mumbai.Another thing that cracks me up, is that you Pakistani’s, some of you here, criticize how bad, or inefficient the Indian military and and intelligence is, yet you get upset when we Indians try to upgrade it, with Technology and make it better, which way would make you happier, please clarify?On that last item, India now has a few high resolution spy satellites in orbit, monitoring the LOC, the defacto and future border for all time, to make sure that Pakistan is honest. India also is also getting the latest Israeli made high-test anti-missile missiles and now has the the fastest hypersonic cruise missile in the world, the Brahmos 2. Your non-state actors may try to get in and they are being caught all the time, in the U.S., UK, Europe and elsewhere, some do slip through though, because we don’t spend the entire economic potential of our citizens on the Army, like Pakistan does. Your so-called professional army was so sloppy that they did not even stop the Marriot Hotel bxmbing/ Benazir Bhutto’s Murder and the cricket attack on the Sri Lankan team. Please try to speak sense, you can at least try to make Pakistan appear smart.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

How is the war in Afganistan even slightly like the war in Vietnam? We are not fighting a country we are looking for terrorists that run world wide. Their purpose is not to gain land or political power it is to terrorize and disrupt and kill anyone they deem to be their enemy. There are no rules to their war and they are not held by any particular boundaries. I don’t know how we fight and win a war of this type but by waging it and locating their strongholds we are hopefully slowing them down. There are arguments that are pro and con on this continued battle. We cannot know who is right because only the future can tell us that in this instant. I do know what they have done and what they are capable of. That in itself is deeply concerning.I believe we are in Afghanistan because we know that they have a stronghold there. I do not know that Irag was ever a stronghold for them but I do know that we committed to the people there to oust Saddam thus hopefully making their lives better. The Taliban have stepped in and have tried to make those efforts as tough and fruitless as possible. They have literally shocked the world again by lopping off heads on video and killing thousands of innocents indiscriminately. We are committed to trying to make what we have done there work out for these people. Maybe we should have never interfered there, but we did.I don’t know what all the answers are here but I also no that those who want us out do not know what those repercussions might be.This is an issue that has gone into the background since Obama has been president and needs to again come to the forefront so decisions can be made!The History Man

Posted by Charlie Bell | Report as abusive

@ShamiSo you think corporate world should hire logicians like you over the smart technical workforce? Your understanding about the delay in rooting out Pakistani terrorists who held numerous innocent lives hostage in the Mumbai attacks highlights your resume. Seriously, what are you smoking?

Posted by seth | Report as abusive

Umair says:”Perhaps US must forge a true alliance with Pakistan and work to stabilize AFPAK. “–>Alliances are formed only with trustworthy, politically and economically stable democratic governments, of which Pakistan is neither of. Sure there are some of you educated military types with a computer and servants, but that does not mean that your population is literate or civilized. Pakistani’s here keep bragging that they are democratic, but are doing little, or saying little to encourage their neighbour to become a democracy and in fact, trying to subvert democracy in Afghanistan. Afghanistan used to have stylish metropolitan districts in the 60’s and 70’s. There is no more communism, the only hurdle to progress in Afghanistan is trouble started from Pakistan by its state agencies.As far as an alliance goes, Pakistan has nothing that the U.S. wants or needs. For charity sakes, they just need to hire the greedy parasitic punjabi’s in uniforms to clean up their own terrorism mess that they kept on creating for almost three decades after the Soviets and the U.S. left the area. The U.S. will continue to school and push around Pakistan as they see fit and will do so until their mission is successful and don’t kid yourself, if the U.S. mission in Afghanistan fails, the U.S. will forget that it is even temporarily on good terms with Pakistan. Your masters’ don’t care less for your fictitious sovereignty and imagined statehood.

Posted by G lobal W atcher | Report as abusive

Shami:Like many of your fellow Pakistanis (on this blog & elsewhere), you seem to be taking great satisfaction in the terrorist activities on your ‘non-state actors’. It’s quite disturbing to see people like you, taking pride in the fact that 10 of your terrorists, trained & armed to the teeth, sprayed bullets over unarmed civilians, women & children. That was indeed very heroic & brave!It is a well documented fact that your army has been a complete failure since it’s inception. It has lost every armed conflict, it has ever indulged in, while bankrupting your country & destroying it’s democracy & various institutions. The only thing it has succeeded in, is brainwashing people like you into buying the falsehoods, distortions & conspiracy theories that it sells.As for mimicking the west is concerned, if mimicking success & civility is a crime then India is certainly guilty of it. Anyways, mimicking is better than begging, which Pakistan seems to be doing 24/7 all over the world. Where is your sense of pride when your leaders trot around the world carrying their polished begging bowl? Subservience & slavery to America & the west runs in Pakistan’s blood, not India’s. India is self reliant & actually donates to countries like yours.As for leaving Af/Pak alone, sorry to break your bubble but it won’t happen this time. Pakistan is the center of terrorism & it won’t be left alone until terrorism is wiped out from it’s soil. So get ready for more drones, missiles & action on your soil.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

HenryAlmost every civilized blogger understands the point you are underscoring. Sadly, if you leave ’them’ alone, the zombies and vampires will not only take over those countries but also eventually attack outsiders. Then, as a last resort, with the fire power of the (developed nations) armies a genocide will unfold. The current contentious intervention is to prevent and reverse the travel in time backwards. A small number of casualties today is worth every bit preventing a lot tomorrow. Besides you cannot build 50 feet walls around these countries to ‘let them rot’ behind. It’s a (noble) spiritual cause and certainly not a (selfish) religious one. Agree, yes, even Africa/others should be liberated. By these sacrifices, our future generations can live in relative peace hopefully.

Posted by ashok | Report as abusive

There are ghostly similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam but there are also large differences, particularly when it comes to motivations for the mission. The US knows that failure to pacify Afghanistan would mean another 9/11. Therefore, it’s left with no choice but to fight lest the violence come to its shores.But as bad as the mission looks now (and those of us who do this for a living will readily admit that the other side seems to be gaining the upper hand) it also obvious how easily it can be turned around. NATO has nowhere near the amount of troops the Soviets put in and much of the pledged aid remains to be materialized. A little more effort from the Americans to get more aid in the country and more forces could turn around the mission pretty quick. Increased pressure on the Pakistanis is also inevitable and would not hurt.As for the costs of the mission, they are not as high as anyone assumes. The US budget deficit isn’t caused by the war. It’s caused by a structural deficit as a result of the Bush tax cuts. If those were reversed, the Americans could be running surpluses in no time. At something like 20 billion a month the Afghan war costs about $2 a day for every American…less than a short latte at Starbucks. Viewed that way, it is obvious that the Americans have the resources to stay for another millenia if they wanted to.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Sanjeev wrote:A more radical approach would be withdraw completely and focus on regional and global counter-terrorism efforts and homeland security initiatives to protect the United States from threats that may emanate from Afghanistan, Haas suggests, In that sense, Afghanistan would resemble the approach toward Somalia and other countries where governments are unable or unwilling to take on militants, and the United States eschews military confrontation.But is the world ready for that ?———–We already apply this model to the FATA. It’s not that radical to apply it to Afghanistan. As the yardstick gets pushed further, it could apply to more of Pakistan as well. If NATO fails in Afghanistan, I am willing to bet that this will be the dominant model with the entire Af/Pak region will become a free fire zone for US Preds.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

@Sanjeev,Af-Pak is winnable, and must be so at all costs. If the U.S. mission is withering and help is needed, then the U.S. needs make friends with Russia and build a formidable security alliance. Perhaps another superpower in Afghanistan is just what is needed to clean up the Taliban and even fix Pakistan.Pakistan is not a true partner in stabilizing Afghan, as they continue to want to keep enmity with India, even though most Pakistani’s don’t view India as a threat. Pakistan has the soldiers and boots on the ground to wipe out all terrorism in Pakistan, but is unwilling to commit and release those troops for the real fight and would rather keep reinforcing its artificial facade of enmity with India, to keep its population politically and religiously united.What Pakistan is unwilling to do, will one day come back with a disproportionate vengeance, as a tool of its own making, upon its self.In the mean time, the IMF will should apply heavy leverage to mortgage what little resources Pakistan has to keep those as collateral, for default on payment. If Pakistan cannot make interest payments, it should surrender its nuclear program on a plate, if it wants to economically stay intact as a country.The world is gaining nothing by trying to revive Pakistan. Every country that is giving money to Pakistan, is contributing to future terrorism and ensuring that the parasitic army keeps a war-like state with India.The experiment of Pakistan from partition is a complete and utter failure on almost every level, relative to India, which is flourishing.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Global Watcher,What you have stated is so true, but I disagree with the failed state part. Pakistan will always be kept propped up due its nuclear arsenal. If Pakistan wants to pay off the IMF loans…they will not. Pakistan will continue to reiterate that it is at the fore front of fight against world terrorism and therefore:-ALL loans should be written off.-Pakistani goods sold abroad have their taxes waivered.-Long term export contracts in ALL sectors of trade with US, UK and all other developed nations.-Free nuclear deal with no inspections of any kind and no questions asked.-Weapons upgrades at lowered costs.Despite the FACT that Pakistan is where the Taliban and other terrorists outfits were created and/or nurtured.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Bulletfish, you said:”Global Watcher,What you have stated is so true, but I disagree with the failed state part. Pakistan will always be kept propped up due its nuclear arsenal. If Pakistan wants to pay off the IMF loans…they will not. Pakistan will continue to reiterate that it is at the fore front of fight against world terrorism and therefore:-ALL loans should be written off.-Pakistani goods sold abroad have their taxes waivered.-Long term export contracts in ALL sectors of trade with US, UK and all other developed nations.-Free nuclear deal with no inspections of any kind and no questions asked.-Weapons upgrades at lowered costs.Despite the FACT that Pakistan is where the Taliban and other terrorists outfits were created and/or nurtured.- Posted by bulletfish “–>Pakistan needs to feel the heat of a hot iron from a Banker coming to collect his money.The rest of us have to pay interest and pay mortgages, why does Pakistan get a free ride to continue building nukes, weapons, maintaining proxy army terrorist camps and such?The world must stop enabling Pakistan from being able to create terrorism.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive

Vietnam was a war that was never meant to be won, just sustained. The problem with Afghanistan is that “winning” means getting bin Laden, which also means no more war on terror, no more money for American imperialism. So in a sense, Afghanistan is the new Vietnam. America can win they’re just not allowed to.

Posted by tim bailey | Report as abusive

i am inclined to agree with the us is a war of necessity.the country is almost bankrupt, the currency is at its lowest value, but uncontrolled printing is being maintained,A trillion from middle east and trillions from china, why not continue giving aid to countries and taking it back by selling weapons to them.this way weapon industry will keep going.stop the war in iraq and increase forces in afghanistan.keep forces involved until a new battle ground is found, pakistan may be or why not iran, hoping that iran will make a strategic error.not to forget the middle east arena? something will is getting all complicated and mixed up.when are the next presidential election?a new strategy is needed until then, if not hand over the country to the next one, it can’t be worst than i got from George— where is by the way?i better ask him how did he keep going from one war to another for eight years? i better phone him one of these days.he did promise to help. one cannot trust clinton, he would rather his wife taking the next thing is sure i never promised that i can, i always said yes we can meaning that you can.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive