- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009


Arnaud de Borchgrave makes a good point when he argues that the lessons of the Vietnam War have been “forgotten” and/or “ignored” in Afghanistan (“The fantasy of flipping enemies,” Opinion, Monday). He seems to be saying that “guerrilla” movements intentionally try to foster the illusion that they can be internally divided by outside forces. Mr. de Borchgrave, sadly, goes on to suggest that the battle in Afghanistan is already lost and that the United States and its allies should be looking for a fig leaf behind which to leave.

Mr. de Borchgrave’s memory is somewhat selective. He fails to mention that the defeat of the former Soviet Union resulted from America’s arming of the Afghan fighters with rocket-propelled grenades and other weaponry. The RPGs, in particular, enabled the Afghan freedom fighters to shoot down Soviet aircraft and turned the war in favor of the indigenous forces. In the absence of American assistance, it’s not clear how the Soviets would have fared.

Clearly, flipping the Taliban is a lame idea, but the notion that a well-led, well-equipped modern army cannot defeat a loose confederation of semiliterate tribesmen is yet to be proved in Afghanistan.


Columbia, Md.

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