I was lucky, almost sixty-thousand of us died there during the ten year period from 1962-1972. Thousands more went home scarred and mangled, some carrying problems like Agent Orange that would not be noticeable for years. Today the US Veteran's hospitals are filled with men of my generation still suffering the effects of that war.
Now the US is entangled in a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, a war whose outcome looks to be no more successful than the Vietnam misadventure, and though the number killed may be fewer, the effects will probably be no less damaging to another generation. Unfortunately, unlike the Vietnam conflict, Canada has joined the US in their latest fiasco, committing troops to the Afghan theatre of the war. Almost seventy have been killed to date and there is no telling what the future effects will be on our troops as the diseases and poisons that they acquire begin to show up, often years later.
About half of all Canadians do not support Canada's involvement in this war. This lack of support poses a problem for the Canadian government which could lose the next election over it and the propaganda mill has been churning out various messages ranging from "its about reconstruction" to the evils of the Taliban and the usual war on terror spook stories. History, of course, tells us a different story.
Mr. Appathurai, like many others, repeats the bad Taliban mantra, pointing out the harshness of life in Afghanistan under their rule. Granted the Taliban were not nice people, but what is not said is that before them and after the Russian backed government, things were worse. One reason that the Taliban achieved power is because they brought law and order to a country rife with chaos and civil war. In the wake of the current invasion and occupation of the country, conflict again rips apart the country. It is not for nothing that many Afghans have said that as much as they disliked the Taliban, things are worse now.
The record of western powers invading and occupying Afghanistan has been one of one western defeat after another. It is probably a pipe dream to imagine that this occupation will turn out any better. The Karzai government, the equivalent of the Vichy government in France under the Nazis, is corrupt and despised. The opium trade, once curtailed by the Taliban, is booming again, and the allies are killing more civilian bystanders than the Taliban. The only good news is that for western military contractors there is a lot of profit to be made. Blood money, but so what?
A young captain in the Vandoos, now being deployed to Afghanistan, said that they were going to Afghanistan to give the Afghan people a society like ours. I wonder if he ever thought whether or not they might want a society like ours, even if it were true that that was the reason for going there? More likely they will keep their own society and ours will suffer the waste of more soldier's lives, and the squandering of truck loads of money that could have gone into healthcare and other more worthwhile efforts.