On Apr. 29, 1975, American forces left Vietnam after more than a decade at war. Thousands of American casualties and billions of dollars were spent on a losing effort in a war remembered as the most unpopular in American history. No winnable outcome was realistic and the government was unwilling to sacrifice political will for the greater good.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe because it is similar to the situation in Afghanistan and how it could turn out if President Barack Obama decides to send more troops to this war that is impossible to win, this second Vietnam.
The president has stated repeatedly that this is “not another Vietnam,” but the realities prove otherwise. During the Cold War the Soviet Union failed to indoctrinate communist ideals in the country and our efforts to prop up a democracy in a nation that has never known one have been equally futile. One cannot simply force democratic ideals onto another. The change must be internal and the proper institutions have to be in place in order to support the endeavor, institutions that do not exist in Afghanistan.
History has taught us that states unite when occupied by a foreign army. Afghans may or may not agree ideologically with the ruthless Taliban regime, but some have joined behind them in their efforts to root out NATO forces from their land, and many will continue to favor the Taliban because the Karzai government remains illegitimate and corrupt.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has requested 40,000 additional troops from President Obama to continue this war. Over the past months as the president considers his options, the press has failed to ask the tough questions: Why are we still there after eight years? What are our objectives? Is there an end goal?
All evidence shows that there are no objectives and that the war has become a drag on the U.S. economy at a time when unemployment stands at 10.2 percent, a 26-year high.
It is simply too late to begin a new strategy in an operation that will fail, regardless of whether more troops are sent. It is not worth the lives of our servicemen, the price to future generations and our standing in the world.
Mr. President, make the difficult but right choice and leave Afghanistan; show the political will that so many before you have not.
Daniel Medina is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.