John Mearsheimer writes in Foreign Policy magazine that “[i]n Afghanistan, there is little reason to think that the United States can decisively defeat the Taliban, mainly because they can melt into the countryside or go to Pakistan whenever they are outgunned, returning to fight another day (just as they did after the initial U.S. victory in 2001).” He says the Republicans who blame the President for “dithering” are those those who still claim that Vietnam was winnable. I’ve commented earlier on this line of thinking, calling it “the Vietnam syndrome”–that is, the idea that American military power is capable of quelling an insurgency.

And even if America were capable of defeating the Taliban, it is important to remember that “[t]he real tragedy of Vietnam is not that the United States lost, but that it became involved in the first place. It pains me to say this as someone who served in the American military from 1965 to 1975, but the anti-war movement was right: It did not matter to U.S. security whether North Vietnam conquered the south and unified that country under communist rule.”

Amen.

Advertisements