The Song Remains The Same

by digby

I generally agree with Matthew Yglesias that comparisons between Afghanistan and Vietnam aren't particularly useful. But I do think it's quite useful to note that the hawkish arguments for Afghanistan and Vietnam are the same. (Likewise Iraq, Bosnia, Lebanon, etc.)

The argument goes: If we fail in [fill in the blank), the world will stop taking us seriously and the bad guys will be empowered. If (fill in the blank) goes down, then the whole region will soon follow. We have to send a message that we are drawing the line at (fill in the blank.)

Since none of these predictions have ever come to pass, regardless of whether or not we stayed or left, I feel fairly confident that those particular reasons can be filtered out. Unfortunately, they are still the reasons being touted today for an escalation in Afghanistan. Therefore, I am very, very, very skeptical. Those who don't learn from experience are ... dumb. Vietnam was huge object lesson in the power of the superpower. Likewise Afghanistan for the USSR. There are lessons to be learned.

On the other hand, if what we want is to create a central Asian outpost for the American Empire, then I suppose it makes some sense. But let's not kid ourselves about the reasons anymore. At my age, I've heard them so often that it actually embarrasses me to have to listen to them again.

Here's Perlstein on the hawks and Vietnam. They were and are, as always, wrong.