At 8 years and 8 months, Americans can now mark Operation Enduring Freedom as the longest war in which our country has been involved. The war in Afghanistan now beats out the war in Vietnam.
The war in Afghanistan has cost America almost $277 billion and 1000+ military casualties. The parallels between this conflict and the Vietnam war are multitudinous and unsettling:
- Confusing and dangerously restrictive rules of engagement.
- Ineffective pacification (community/social interaction) programs.
- CIA and contractor over-involvement.
- Multiple diplomatic blunders.
- Kleptocratic states propped up by the U.S.
- Vietcong activity kills more civilians than enemy, and the U.S. gets blamed. Taliban kill indiscriminately, and the U.S. gets blamed.
- The Vietcong/Taliban have no “law of armed conflict” restrictions, while the allied coalition invokes the Geneva conventions.
- North Vietnam Army and the Taliban both fund war with dope, and the U.S. doesn’t/can’t control the harvest.
- Border countries become sanctuaries for the bad guys, and the U.S. gets hammered for “Hot pursuit”. (Vietnam–China/Laos/Cambodia; Taliban–Pakistan/Iran).
- Overextension of U.S. forces caused marked rise in family breakups, suicides and mental health issues.
Iraq has cost the U.S. 4200+ deaths and $726 billion. (That’s 3/4 of a trillion dollars, for those numerically-challenged among us.)
The war in Vietnam cost us $686 billion (in 2008 dollars) and 58,267 military deaths (with 1,719 still MIA).