Long Parted Wars but Same Patterns: Afghanistan the New Vietnam in the Making

The United States has a history of indulging in foreign wars, just to abandon them later on at the crucial moments.

The ambitions of the war in Afghanistan for the United States were surely different than those of Vietnam.

While the purpose of the Vietnam war was to curtail the rising communism in the emerging cold war, the Afghanistan war is attributed to the post-Cold War identity politics of the strengthening Taliban power.

The United States has left Afghanistan, and now the Taliban are gaining control over the country. With the United Nations warning that the Taliban has close ties with Al-Qaeda, and the country can once again become the hub for global terrorism, the US has much to worry about.

President Joe Biden denied comparisons between the Taliban and North Vietnam forces saying that North Vietnam forces were far more powerful than the Taliban.

But the emerging Taliban power defies all the claims.

The US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan have patterns as the US withdrawal has triggered the rivals to capture the whole of the country in both the wars.
The US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan have patterns as the US withdrawal has triggered the rivals to capture the whole of the country in both the wars.

Vietnam and Afghanistan: Countries that Tested US Limits

The 20-year war of the United States in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks cost the US almost $2 trillion and 2,300 soldiers.

But the end result is not America-friendly in any sense. The same was the case with Vietnam half a century ago when the US troops left the country during the imminent defeat.

The lesson from Vietnam was surely never learned. Charles de Gaulle, the former president of France, warned President Kennedy against going to Vietnam, but the warning went unheeded.

The United States spent 19 years in Vietnam, as five presidential administrations invested in the cause, and the result was nothing else than the loss of 58,000 American soldiers.

During the US withdrawal from Vietnam, President Richard Nixon said that he was aware of the risk, but this risk was important for peace.

Similar sentiments were found when Trump said, “After two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”

Both presidents knew that they lacked an exit strategy. Just like Vietnam, Afghanistan also tested America’s limits.

The US troops in Vietnam were pulled out because the army was fighting in unfamiliar territory with no moral support, and was not prepared for such conditions or trained to fight a guerilla war.

The dynamics were the same in Afghanistan, where the local Taliban fighter was well aware of how to win popular support alongside the physical territory.

Long Parted Wars but Same Patterns: Afghanistan the New Vietnam in the Making
US President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 8, 2021. – US President Joe Biden expressed confidence on July 8, 2021 in the Afghan military and said that a Taliban takeover of the country is not inevitable.
“I do not trust the Taliban,” Biden told reporters at the White House, “but I trust the capacity of the Afghan military.” (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden is Miscalculating the Taliban’s Offensive Power

President Biden neglected the claim that Afghanistan will be the next Vietnam. The basis of the claim was that Vietnam forces were much stronger than the Taliban.

However, undermining the Taliban is the biggest mistake which the US made in this war every time.

The recent advances by the Taliban forces have undoubtedly busted the claims of the weakness of the insurgent forces, as they completely outpaced the advances by the Afghan forces.

Currently, the Taliban are attacking three major cities, Herat, Lashkar Gah, and Kandhar. The Taliban are expected to take these cities any time now, and after this, their next step will be Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

In 1975, two years after the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, the South Vietnamese surrendered to the North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin after a full-scale civil war in the country, marking the official ceremony of the US defeat in the country.

The last American soldier left Vietnam on April 20, 1975; this was the day when the North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon and took over the country.

The current situation of Afghanistan is signaling the repeat of this event. Once the Taliban take over Kabul, the whole of Afghanistan will fell into the hands of the Taliban, and the 20-year struggle will go in vain.

Despite a conclusive defeat in Vietnam, the US did not learn its lessons and did the same mistake of underming the enemy in Afghanistan, resulting in biting the dust once again.
Despite a conclusive defeat in Vietnam, the US did not learn its lessons and did the same mistake of underming the enemy in Afghanistan, resulting in biting the dust once again.

Final Thoughts

Afghan war veterans are glad to see US troops returning to the country but are also disappointed in seeing the shadow of the Vietnamese war in the Afghan exit plan. Don Nicholas, a US military official, has served in Afghanistan and was also in Vietnam. 

The veterans believe that the downfall of Kabul is near as the US troops are sent packing.

The ignorance of the Taliban’s strength by President Biden is surely a miscalculated approach, as data suggests.

With every move from the Afghan Taliban, the differences between the Afghanistan and Vietnam wars are shrinking.

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