Skip to Content

No Country for Young Men as Old Men Play for Time: The End in Afghanistan is Totally Predictable


John Kerry, back before he was a pompous windsurfing Senate apologist for American empire, back when he wore his hair long and was part of a movement of returned US military veterans speaking out against the continuation of the Vietnam War, famously asked the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing, “How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?”

That was 1971, and the Vietnam War continued to drag on for two more years, with more Americans dying, and with many more Vietnamese being killed, until finally the last US combat troops were gone. But even then the fighting continued, with the Army of South Vietnam armed and financed by the United States, until April 30, 1975, when the last resistance ended and Vietnam was liberated and reunified and finally at peace.

During those two terrible years between Kerry’s statement and the end of US combat operations, American soldiers stationed in Vietnam knew that the war was lost, and knew they were there for no reason other than keeping President Nixon from looking like he had lost a war, particularly as he faced re-election during the campaign year of 1972. There was, understandably, massive resort to drugs, including marijuana, opium, heroin, LSD and others, as well as alcohol. There was the fragging of commanding officers who were too aggressive about sending their troops into danger. There was insubordination and insurrection and there was desertion.

Now consider the situation in Afghanistan. Once again a war has been lost by the US, this time to forces far weaker and more poorly organized than the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.
Once again American troops are being asked to keep fighting for a mistake -- this time the 2001 fantasy of the Bush/Cheney administration that it could make a client state out of Afghanistan, a mistake that President Obama doubled down on after taking over the White House, when he called Afghanistan the “good war” and committed another 30,000 troops there, plus ordering up an aggressive kill campaign of night raids, assassinations and the heavy use of pilotless armed drone aircraft.

John Kerry (l) testifying at the Senate in '71 and Iraq/Afghan War vets lining up to return medals to NATO in ChicagoJohn Kerry (l) testifying at the Senate in '71 and Iraq/Afghan War vets lining up to return medals to NATO in Chicago a few days ago

The difference this time is that these troops are hearing their commander in chief tell the American public that he is going to end the whole thing at the end of 2014 (assuming of course that he is still commander in chief then). He is saying that the war, now opposed by almost three-fourths of the American people according to recent polls, will be ended in two and a half more years no matter what the situation is on the ground in Afghanistan.

story | by Dr. Radut