Vietnam redux?

One usually isn’t amused when our government claims it will efficiently gut an enemy. But when the Bush administration said a few weeks back that the Taliban would probably fold once the bombing began, it made me laugh. I don’t know who they thought they were dealing with when they made these overly optimistic statements, but it’s not in the Afghans’ nature to be quickly defeated by anyone.

The idea that the Taliban would simply turn and run because they didn’t have the full backing of the population showed a lack of understanding. It also showed me that the administration had underestimated an enemy, again. Seems like Robert McNamara said the same thing about Vietnam.

I was smiling again last week when I read that the State Department was trying to form some sort of “post-Taliban government” among the fractious tribal and ethnic leaders who had left the country. Sure enough, days later it was reported this effort was on hold. History indicates a government there has been nearly impossible to form; why would it be easy while the Taliban is still in control?

You can get some understanding of the Afghan people at war by reading about my experiences back in 1985 (see “Our man in Afghanistan”). This war will not be quick or easy for them or us, and that’s no laughing matter.