Never in a million years did I think that I would still be talking about Mikhail Gorbachev. The last time I saw him I was still playing with Transformers and GI Joe. This begs the question; why bring him up now? The answer ladies and gentlemen is Afghanistan.
Why didn’t we learn from Russia’s misadventures in Afghanistan? The former USSR was embroiled in a quagmire there for nine years. Ultimately the battle bankrupted them and as a result millions of Russians died quietly from austerity, not to mention the 18,000 soldiers they lost on the battlefield.
In 2009 Gorbachev went on record advising the US to withdraw from Afghanistan stating “I think that what’s needed is not additional forces. Withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the goal.” President Obama has ensured the American people that we will be pulling out of the war torn region by next summer. I wish I could believe him, but he also told us that we would pull out of Iraq and that he would close Gitmo.
Afghanistan was the USSR’s Vietnam. We really stuck it to them in our proxy battle there. The thing is; we are getting our asses handed to us over there much like our conflict in Vietnam. Adding insult to injury Afghanistan is not being backed by Russia and we are still getting beaten badly. We have failed to learn our lesson from Vietnam and we have failed to learn from Russia’s defeat in Afghanistan.
We should all be asking why we are still there. Do we have any strategic objectives in Afghanistan or has the battle become it’s own purpose? It’s as if the ghost of General Westmoreland has returned and wants to fight a conventional war against guerrillas all over again.
In a democracy a war cannot be won unless it has the support of the people. Võ Nguyên Giáp and Hồ Chí Minh knew this just as sure as our enemies in Afghanistan know it. The American public has grown tired of incessant conflict, therefore we have already lost the Afghan war. The only sensible thing to do now is to pull out immediately. I can already hear my detractors saying “If we pull out now it will leave Afghanistan in chaos.” My response is; how would that be different from any other day?