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.