GlobalPost pieces on COIN in Vietnam and Afghanistan by mattsteinglass
March 30, 2009, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Afghanistan, Vietnam

As I said in my GlobalPost series on counterinsurgency strategy in Vietnam and Afghanistan, the similarities between the two situations are really discomfiting. And now that President Obama has released the details of the new Af-Pak strategy, I can’t say I’m reassured. In particular, the assertions that American economic aid and efforts to effect political reforms in Afghanistan will have any dramatic effect on sapping the Taliban insurgency seem redolent of Vietnam. People just don’t seem to have any recall of how much aid the US gave to South Vietnam — as I’ve written elsewhere, it dwarfed US efforts in Afghanistan. And US aid efforts in South Vietnam evolved and became increasingly sophisticated over time, and were increasingly integrated with US military efforts. It’s possible that the US is better now at this social element of counterinsurgency than it was back then. But I don’t see a lot of evidence that this is the case, and it seems naive to me to believe that US aid efforts will have a dramatic impact on Afghanistan’s society and economy when aid efforts in similar countries during peacetime are extremely hit-or-miss and only make marginal contributions to societal stability and well-being. Anyway, read the articles.


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