Afghanistan was "the next Viet Nam" before and after Iraq was the "next Viet Nam," and a decade after Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Somalia was each "the next Viet Nam." At least that's what the pundits, protesters, and publishers will tell you. On the eve of the Memorial Day Weekend, USA Today again tried to sell us this line. To drive the point home, they went to Kentucky and found someone who lived in the same town that Mike Spann grew up to say it was time to retreat.
Mike Spann was the first to give his life in defense of Freedom, in Afghanistan, in this war. He may very well have been killed by an American. His task was to interrogate John Walker Lindh and his death marked the onset of a prison riot turned battle between captured terrorists murdering (as per the Geneva Conventions) lawful combatants. (Under the Geneva Convention, captured combatands are considered non-combatants and acts of violence by them is considered murder, not lawful combat.)
Gannet (Owner: USA Today, The Tennessean, Army Times, Military times, & many other newspapers) sent their minions over to Bardstown, KY to compare Afghanistan to Viet Nam and contrast its effects on the town. Bardstown lost seven of its sons in two weeks in 1969 and the scars still overshadow the present. A Veteran of the battle that cost those lives notes: a "lot of apathy" about Afghanistan.
But the politically correct world of the press which tells us body counts have no place in reporting the news, does all they can to stretch the body count of Our Own.
First they counted all that died in Operation Enduring Freedom operations, including heart attacks, accidents, and old age, including those in the Philippines, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to get their One Thousand. Next they'll eliminate those that aren't inside Afghanistan to get 1,000 again. Then they'll report the 1,000 combat deaths, to report it again. That is unless of course they can manage to report 2,000 OEF deaths first, which they might decide to include our allies to do.
In fact, as of 18 May 2010, only 797 Americans had died as a result of combat in Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes Afghanistan. That's less than 75% of the numbers reported by the Brookings Institute's Afghanistan Index. Even, if we were to accept the maximum countable numbers, this war would be the least costly in terms of Human Life of any war, less so than the 2nd least costly: Iraq, and 58 times less costly than the 3rd least costly: Viet Nam.
This "next Viet Nam" is currently compared as being of the same duration 103 months. Of course that's the shortest possible time frame for Viet Nam war, so we can expect to see that comparison more than once more. Today's comparison is for the official period, sort of: 7 Aug 1964 (Gulf of Tonkin Resolution) - 28 Mar 1973 (last Ground Troops withdrawn). Two years from now, they can add 24 months to it: 7 Aug 1964 to 29 Mar 1975 (fall of Saigon/pictures of evacuation of US Embassy). A few years after that, they can add more time to Viet Nam 1950's (US Military Advisers) to March 1973. A few years after that, they can again add the 2 years after withdrawal, before the fall of Saigon.
The fixation of the press on Viet Nam is their fixation with "their victory." It was the unsupported opinion broadcast to America of a trusted journalist (Walter Cronkite) that convinced the American people that the Tet Offensive defeat of the North Vietnamese was a defeat of US Troops. It produced a wave of protests by dope smoking hippies that undermined rational American Support for Our Troops, allowing the politicians in Congress to institute defeat of an ally.
They've had other victories as well: the retreat from Somalia, the premature end of Desert Storm, the current "responsible withdrawal" from Iraq. On the other hand, they remained silent about the long term efforts of Kosovo and Bosnia which remained "combat zones" well into the 21st Century and still don't report that our current enemy was active in Somalia, Kosovo, and Bosnia, as well as in fragile Iraq, both in and out of the government. Perhaps, if we were to recognize those 'Peace Keeping Operations" as wars, we'd have to look at them as less costly and more lengthy than Afghanistan or Viet Nam.
The problem is that the press can keep pounding away at the resolve of the American Citizen, until they finally get their victory: retreat from victory. They won't admit their goals nor their defeats. When Iraq turned around, they held on to their body counts and defeatism until they could no longer argue for it, actually well after they had lost evidence of their claim of it being "the Next Viet Nam."
And with a different party in power, those that previously stood with me in denouncing the propaganda against Iraq body counts, often find the Afghanistan Apocalypse to be in their best political prophecy interests.
The bottom line is that each of my Brothers in Arms has a name. Each has a story to tell. Each was doing what he was doing in protection of Freedom, in protection of Human Life, of his own free will. His sacrifice is worth one helluva lot more than just a number. His family's sacrifice was not made for the campaign of a politician, party, or publishers pocketbook. His blood was not spilled for the sake of a Pulitzer Prize for its photographic profit.
Meanwhile, PBS's Frontline chose the Memorial Day Weekend to build on the theme of the Soldier as the Psychotic murderer. With the cold scalpel of a scientific sounding faceless voice, they tell the tales of perhaps the most violent platoon of veterans they can find. He alludes to greater violence, greater psychosis, greater issues than he can or does document. While noting pre-existing conditions, PBS lays full blame on the Army for murders committed by drug using criminals that had managed to enter the Military. He damns the Army for taking them, for treating them, for medicating them, for kicking them out, and for not prosecuting them. In the reunion of members of the platoon, most have moved on to greater successes, but he spotlights only those that struggle.
While besmirching the mental capacities of those veterans, it accuses the military of not doing enough to treat those who played off their issues to shrinks they knew would not understand. Indeed, the violence of those few members of the platoon had already been cataloged by the NYTimes when it attempted this theme a few years ago. And thrown in with the real cases of violence is still the unsubstantiated, un-convicted cases of 'manslaughter' still used to bolster the numbers.
How sad it is to know that the press has chosen the Memorial Day Weekend, a time of reflection of the ultimate sacrifice so many have made to defend Freedom, to besmirch the character of those who have served, and the very mission they've accepted.