Liddell has both knowledge and experience

Afghanistan is strike three for us, proving that neither the United States nor anyone else on Earth can fight a war and do nation-building in the same place at the same time.

Vietnam and Iraq were strikes one and two.

Fighting a war is so different from building a country.

Trying both in the same place at the same time is more difficult than herding cats on a pogo stick.

We forget that World War II was over before we started the Marshall Plan.

Doing our part in winning World War II and afterward, rebuilding Western civilization, were such colossal achievements that we believe we can do both simultaneously on a smaller scale.

We are wrong about that.

We tried to reform the South Vietnamese government while building up its army, losing 58,000 Americans between 1959 and 1975.

We swore we’d never make the same mistake again.

But the error isn’t about location, politics or military strategy.

It’s the principle of trying to juggle roaring chainsaws while riding a tiger.

John Sopko, our special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, worries we’ll fall for the same traps again and again, bleeding our military and our treasury until both collapse.

Roland Van Deusen


The writer is a member of the New York State Democratic Party Veterans Committee.

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(1) comment


I agree with all this but with an added equation. At the end of WWII the three axis nations, Germany, Japan, and Italy were destroyed. Their economy, their infrastructure, their military, their governments, and their cities were completely destroyed plus millions of their own people were dead. These countries were occupied by the winning Allied countries and within 10 years, by 1955, those nations had rebuilt themselves and were in the top ten of economic powers and quality of life. Why? Why were they able to do that? It's because they wanted to. It's because the people who live in those countries decided to look to the future and make themselves better. They wanted to. It doesn't matter how much money gets thrown at them, they first have to want to succeed. Then there are countries today, I can think of Haiti and Afghanistan, where no matter how much nation building the world tries with them it doesn't work because the people have yet to look to the future. No amount of money is going to "fix" them until they are ready to fix themselves. They gotta want to, and that is something that is built into their nations dna. The Germans, the Japanese, and the Italians have that dna. Some countries don't.

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