I had to visit my apartment complex's office today to take care of some business when I had a chance to talk to one of the other residents about various subjects. Invariably, the war in Afghanistan came up.
"We need to get out of that war over there," the resident said. "We can't win over there. It's just like Vietnam. Look at what it did to the Russians."
On the surface, my fellow resident has a point. The war in Afghanistan has not been run as well as it could be, and the same can be said of the war in Iraq. However, a badly run war is not the same as an unjust war, and I still feel both wars are valid in the larger scheme of things. I won't back down from that position.
However, I did take gentle issue with the resident's notion that Afghanistan is just like Vietnam and that we would end up like the Russians did when they conducted a war there. I pointed out to the resident that we could still win the war in Afghanistan due to our socioeconomic foundations. When the Russians waged war in Afghanistan, they did it while Russia was still under the influences of communism, which was and is a very rigid form of government and society that doesn't value innovation. They had a stock approach to every situation and rarely deviated from it.
On the other hand, the United States has a more open form of government and champions those who innovate. Sure, it might mean more people have opinions on how to address an issue, but isn't that a good thing when dealing with war? War isn't something that can be mapped out from start to finish because of the human element, so we need people who aren't limited by inside-the-box thinking. It may lead to multiple trips to the drawing board, but it's a lot better than sticking to the same strategy and hoping it works this time.
Yes, we may not be waging war the way it needs to be waged, but if anyone can win in Afghanistan, it's us. And I'm not quite ready to give up on us winning yet.