One thing that might beat us in Afghanistan is the disconnect. The public is relatively disconnected from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike Vietnam where we had a draft, most Americans are not forced to deeply analyze, sacrifice and soul search for these current conflicts. That is left to the military, family members and other supporting elements. In some odd way- the fact that this war is dissimilar to Vietnam because of a lack of connection may be our undoing.
Most Americans can ignore it, and that makes them feel uneasy about it… along with the way we are paying for it- there is a sense of guilt that I get from leaders like Martha Coakley and James McAllister… hard to put my finger on it, exactly. Almost as if people are searching for reasons not to have to support this effort, to avoid the effort itself. If the wars can be put it in a box and called Vietnam, something that one can recognize and feel (as bad), one can justify a lack of commitment.
Iraq and Afghanistan are being paid for by debt and some severe sacrifices of the very few in our society. Perhaps that is a good thing? Perhaps not. It could be our undoing in these conflicts… if the soul searching never occurs, comes up empty, or is severely damaged through false comparisons.
Obama asks us in his speech to do more… to unite behind this cause. I do hope that does not fall on empty ears searching for reasons to stay detached. Will more Ephs and Americans join this effort because of Obamas plea for commitment and unity… or will we continue the partisan divide and false analogies of the past?
Coakley may very well be voting on these wars in the near future. Let us hope, her memories of Vietnam do not distort her position. Let us hope, that our leaders take an honest look at these conflicts and that the end result is a product of baggage free analysis rather than guilt over present and past demons. May the public and our leaders show more passion for or against these conflicts, rather than this strange sense of guilt and detachment.
Afghanistan is not Vietnam. Afghanistan is not Iraq, either.