The lessons of Vietnam and Afghanistan should be that non-authoritarian governments cannot impose their idea of a modern society on a people not asking for it.
The Soviets couldn’t turn Afghanistan into a Communist state, and they had advantages we didn’t – they were supporting a genuine local socialist movement which had seized power without a foreign intervention, and even for them, it all went to crap.
But us? The US can’t do things like summarily execute dissidents. We can’t build massive re education camps and run a gigantic secret police apparatus without heed to human rights.
Afghanistan largely reverted to status quo ante bellum once US military pressure was removed, much like Jell-O that was unset running everywhere once the mold was removed. Because the people of Afghanistan, largely, were not interested in a modern, semi secular democracy designed by Westerners from halfway around the world.
If we wanted to change Afghanistan into that state, it would have taken a concerted effort to eradicate the cultural aspects of that country which prevent modernity. I’m talking forced relocations and the breaking of tribal bonds, massive human rights abuses, an oppressive police apparatus, definitely an invasion of NW Pakistan.
Personally, I’m glad we didn’t do those things. But I do hope that the next time we think about interfering in a civil war, we consider whether victory would require a change to the culture of the nation. And I hope we stay the hell home.
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society