Peace Action West News

US Effort in Afghanistan: 96% Chasing Teenage Boys Around

It’s always a little dicey to make the Vietnam comparison.

But in a carefully argued post on Foreign Policy, Thomas Johnson and M. Chris Mason argue that “Afghanistan is today’s Vietnam. No question mark needed”.

One paragraph jumped out at me given Peace Action West’s struggle to convince Congress to shift resources away from military tools to civilians ones:

[Despite the focus on “killing the enemy”] …. its manpower pool was not North Vietnam’s Achilles heel and neither is it the Taliban’s. Almost exactly the same percentage of personnel in Afghanistan has rural reconstruction as its primary mission (the Provincial Reconstruction Teams) as had “pacification” (today’s “nation-building”) as their primary mission in Vietnam, about 4 percent. The other 96 percent is engaged in chasing illiterate teenage boys with guns around the countryside, exactly what the enemy wants us to do.

As the Afghan war drags on, and as support wanes, Congress had better take a closer look at how the billions they are appropriating are being spent. While shallow anologies can always be a problem, history does repeat itself and we ought to be paying attention to the historical parralels that count.