In my time here in Vietnam, I’ve been contemplating our state of the world.
Spending time in a country that the US once invaded in the name of the fight against Communism, it makes me consider the parallels in the current war on terror. You’d think that living in Afghanistan would give me pause for such reflection, but perhaps it is the distance from my experiences there that allow me to consider the greater picture.
Back in college, during my International Affairs studies, I remember reading something about the theory that nothing had really changed with the end of the cold war. While the pieces of the game might have been moved around the board, the game was still the same in the end.
Here in Vietnam I consider what the future of Iraq and Afghanistan will look like. The US essentially destroyed this country, in the fear of Communism, and lost in the end. After a dozen years of US involvement, an estimated 1.1 Vietnamese military deaths, hundreds of thousands of civilian death, and 58,209 US Armed Forces dead, we lost. All the while, we spent to the tune of $700 Billion in 2007 dollars.
Is this sounding familiar?
In the Iraq war the local death toll at a minimum of 90,000 and estimates as high as 655,000. Plus 4,083 US Armed Forces deaths, and 29,000 wounded. All at a cost of 2.2 trillion and counting.
And I ask, is there anything to be won?
We fought Communism for years, and it is still around. We deal with those nation states that we see as threats, Cuba, and turn a blind eye to those we see as strategic trade partners, China. But Communism is still alive and well.
I’m certainly not an advocate for terrorism. I experience the affects of it regularly, both in my time in Afghanistan as well as my travels around the globe. At the same time, I don’t believe that what we are winning this thing.
During this “war on terror” we have simply managed to enrage those with views opposing Western values. At the same time we have managed to alienate the rest of the world, both those who were once on our side, and those who we would like to be aligned with the states.
Friends, family, and any others who might read my blog know that I don’t often step out there in the sense of exposing myself politically. Perhaps ironic after my last posting. At the same time it feels that if I can’t reflect on these experiences and share them with others, then what is the point really.
Moving forward, can’t we invent a new ism? A positive one. Positivism. Progressivism. People power. Let’s get it together and move forward. The rest will work itself out.