Afghanistan feels like a very slow Vietnam

Several hawkish officials and pundits have claimed that President Joe Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11 could have grave consequences. Initially their arguments made some sense. But then I remembered my time in Vietnam -- the false promises, the scare tactics and the mounting losses.

Both Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon recognized that we couldn’t win in Vietnam. The South Vietnamese government was too divided and corrupt to defeat the unified and committed Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. But our government couldn’t publicly admit that, so we kept sending troops and they kept dying.

We were promised “a peace with honor.” But the pictures of the humiliating fall of our embassy in Saigon, our helicopters crashing into the sea, made it clear there was no honor left to be gained.

Afghanistan is Vietnam in slow motion, only with more corruption and division.

It takes courage to recognize hard truths. Yes, many Afghanis could suffer after we leave. We should do what we can to lessen any harm. But we are now spectators to a play that has already been written. Sadly, we no longer have the power to change the ending. Pretending otherwise is foolish and dangerous.