As always, the United States will be backing the wrong horse -- horses in the case of the Republic of South Vietnam, where no one wanted to die to preserve Madame Thieu's racehorses.
So the ARVN soldiers lived, many of them. The anticommunist idiots who have controlled American foreign policy since 1914 cluck and moan about the terrible conditions they ended upliving under. Conditions would have been worse below ground.
In Afghanistan, there has been no effective move to present the people with a government worth fighting for, so they don't fight for it:
The urge to desert is often driven by more than just facing danger, he said. Many soldiers cannot access their pay, because it can be drawn only at a bank branch in the far-off provincial capital. “Your family is calling you and telling you they have run out of food, but you cannot send them money,” Lieutenant Javed said, describing the plight of soldiers who are often the sole breadwinners for large families. “This is depressing.”Or:
The people know when they are being oppressed, even if the smarties in Washington cannot figure it out. The Russian Empire, despite its ruthless brutality and economic/military power, fell because the people knew that the tsar had sold the bones of the soldiers who died defending him for fertilizer. (At auction, a very capitalistic enterprise, which helps explain why, when the revolution came, it was anticapitalist.) If individual Russians had not heard of that episode, they all understood, from personal and cultural experience, that the government cared nothing for them.
Periodically cut off by the Taliban, the soldiers have not always been able to evacuate casualties out of the district. Their dead often decompose under the hot sun for days — a particular source of anxiety, given the Muslim imperative to conduct burials quickly. Sometimes, soldiers have beseeched local men in the town to accept their dead and contact foreign groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross that might be able to get the bodies back to the provincial capital more quickly.Lieutenant Javed said the prospect of remaining trapped even in death weighed heavily on him.“I am not afraid of death,” he said. “But I am afraid of this sort of death. Will your body ever arrive safely to your family?”
And governments must actually care. Occasional palliative initiatives, like those sometimes experimented with in Saudi Arabia, will not change attitudes. Especially not in Arabia will the army fight to preserve the princes who overwhelmingly mock and ignore their deepest religious principles.
Why has the United States almost always backed the antipatriotic horse? Because it is easier to deal with corrupt crooks, like Chiang Kai-shek. Because of an unreasoning fear of Bolshevism. And because the power elite in this nation has always (except at times during the New Deal) subscribed to the individualistic, antisocial view of our polity -- and worse, of others' polities.
The belief -- disgustingly explicit whenever you speak to the Tea Partiers but implicit with the rest -- that "if I am doing well, then the whole mechanism is improving and doing well, and therefore whatever benefits me in the short run is the most desirable course of action" makes good government difficult even in stable societies, impossible in societies under stress and attempting to evolve toward modernity.
That is why we choose the crooks and never the true patriots -- people who care more about their country than about themselves, like Ho Chi Minh, and not like Hamid Karzai. That is why the people who oppose us look like socialists, not because they embrace a particular economic theory devised by Marx, Morris or Kropotkin, but because they are social, they conceive of themselves as belonging to a social group -- an organism, in national terms, something bigger than themselves, bigger than their clan.
It can get complicated, particularly in an artificial state likeAfghanistan where ethnic or religious loyalties come first and national loyalties come not at all.
But because the United States refuses to back popular movements, it keeps losing.