As the Paris peace negotiations between the U.S. and North Vietnam to end the Vietnam War were close to being concluded, Henry Kissinger, national security advisor to Richard Nixon, told close associates he knew the North Vietnamese were going to win the Vietnam War after we left.
Nixon agreed. Kissinger said all he wanted was a “decent interval” between our leaving the main actions of the war and the fall of South Vietnam.
He got it. We withdrew by and large in 1973. North Vietnamese tanks rolled through the gates of the South Vietnamese presidential palace in Saigon at the end of April 1975.
It was a war we had been decreasing our involvement in for years under Nixon’s “Vietnamization” program. That meant giving the South’s Army the primary responsibility for fighting the North after over a decade of handling that ourselves.
Given the proximity of the North, right across the border, and the active sponsorship of the North by Red China and the Soviets, Kissinger’s analysis was correct. After we retreated there was no way we were going to get reinvolved with the number and types of forces needed to make the North abide by the terms of the peace agreement. That would not fly in a U.S. then polarized by politics.
Given the factors above like a divided America, an already advanced troop reduction, a war longer than a decade, and a local sponsor of our enemy close at hand across a border, in the ongoing and close to fruition peace negotiations with the Taliban I think we are witnessing the same “decent interval” scenario in Afghanistan . . .
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