I feel the same about Afghanistan today, after nearly 20 years of war. Whatever our original intentions might have been, by now it’s clear that we’re not building a secular, democratic, pro-Western government that will someday be strong enough to stand on its own.
There’s a lesson here, and it’s the same lesson we should have learned from Vietnam: In order to install a new form of government in a country, people on the ground have to be buying what you’re selling. As The Boston Globe’s H. D. S. Greenway puts it: In both Vietnam and Afghanistan
our clients could never shake the impression that they were puppets fighting for foreigners, while the Viet Cong and the Taliban were able to present themselves as the true patriots fighting to rid their country of colonialism.