Viet Nam and Afghanistan are merging in the eyes of many savvy obserers. The U. S. (sorry, I mean NATO) operation in Marjah, Afghanistan involves 7500 people attacking (plus 7500 supporting the attack) a town of perhaps 50,000 that allegedly contain 500 or so Taliban fighters. The Taliban are said to normally operate openly and are welcomed in this town that could kick them out in an instant if they preferred Karzai/Kabul rule--but they don't.
Here's a NATO point of view from the above-linked article, if you can provide translation from the English:
"We've caught the insurgents on the hoof, and they're completely dislocated," he said in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, where Marjah is located.
Previously, though, the article pointed out:
So far, the troops have encountered only hit-and-run resistance from Taliban fighters, who have been taking potshots from compounds before moving out as the allied troops returned fire.
No one doubts that thousands of heavily armed, well-supported Western fighters can secure a dusty town square in Afghanistan. But the U. S. never lost a battle in Viet Nam, either. Militarily, we won the Tet offensive in 1968, but it killed LBJ politically. We eventually even "won" Khe Sanh.
We only lost the war, despite never losing a battle. Kind of makes one think, yes?
For an impassioned argument on the specific point of Afghanistan as Viet Nam redux, please consider Obama's Indecent Interval; Despite the U.S. president's pleas to the contrary, the war in Afghanistan looks more like Vietnam than ever.
For a more micro report, the WSJ is running New Battles Test U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan, which has the following paragraph:
Capt. Duke Reim, commander of the American unit responsible for Pashmul, estimates that about 95% of the locals are Taliban or aid the militants. District Gov. Niyaz Mohammad Serhadi agrees. "People here are on the side of the insurgency and have no trust in the government," he says. "Insurgents are in their villages 24 hours."
There is much more in this "must-read" news report.
You may also consider A London Fog on Afghanistan, which concludes:
U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has become almost bewilderingly self-destructive. The White House has constantly slapped Hamid Karzai in public, demanding that he make reforms that would be difficult at the best of times, while performing an end run around him that diminishes his standing even further.
At this rate, when it withdraws, Washington may leave nothing behind in Afghanistan but warring factions -- a mess not unlike the one that precipitated the Taliban's rise to power in the first place.
Losing or inconclusive wars are Bad Things. Barack Obama is pursuing a similar guns and butter policy as Johnson tried, though the economy is vastly more stressed now than when Johnson surged in Viet Nam in 1965.
Afghanistan is a constant and increasing drain of dollars and real resources out of this country, where they could sorely be used. Financial markets will reflect this sooner or later.
Copyright (C) Long Lake LLC 2010