Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cutting and Running

Déjà vu in more ways than one and not only for the soldiers of the "Queen my lads, we have been my lads." Got the following from an online copy of 'Time Magazine': "Because an army emulates its leadership, ARVN all too often runs roughshod over the people it is defending while in the field. The offenses range from chicken thievery to rape to the indiscriminate use of artillery. Corruption has long been a way of life, with tribute exacted all along the chain of command until the squeeze reaches the peasant at the bottom." This appeared in the magazine on April 19th 1968, seven years later Saigon was to fall.

Moreover, while it is only part of the truth, as many of the ARVN rank and file fought bravely long after they had been abandoned by the United States and their own generals, the parallels with Afghanistan today are all too evident and another potential parallel appears with  General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the chief spokesman for the Afghan military, recently saying; “Within the next four years we will take the complete responsibility of the security from the international community, and the international forces will stay on their bases to support Afghanistan National Army forces.” Well, no doubt, "Uncle Sam" will be noting down such rhetoric and, ready or not, the exit strategy is beginning to take shape and, while we can only speculate on how many of Karzai's government and how many of the Generals in the ANA will be making the final stand. However, the evidence would seem to suggest that for every Le Minh Dao  here will be ten who decide to cut and run with the Americans. Although, that is where the parallels might actually end, and in Afghanistan it is sometimes easier to change sides than make the trip to sunny California.

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