August 17, We Got Beat
We got beat in Viet Nam; we lost in Afghanistan.
We lost to the Viet Cong, now it’s to the Taliban.
All occupying armies someday have to pack and go.
The Romans, Greeks, French, Russians, Brits, all saw resentment grow.
Now we’ve been occupiers, those whose values were not shared.
So it was not surprising how our foreign ventures fared.
Democracy’s a problem as a concept to instill;
Some peoples do not want it and dictators never will.
And civil rights a problem: every ethnic group and race
When exercising civil rights may spit in power’s face.
And equal rights for women: education, birth control,
Are rarely rights appealing to the autocratic soul.
So we’ve tried nation building twice and both times were kicked out
By Viet Cong and Taliban, who had more local clout.
We made some converts to our cause but, in the end, too few.
The institutions planted never took root, never grew.
Now, through the retrospectoscope, it’s clear why we got beat.
It’s lack of understanding others that caused our defeat.
We think our way of doing things appeals to everyone
But that’s not true right here; some voting rights may be undone.
All races, all religions simply do not share one view.
For proof, look at America, states either red or blue.
Now throw in foreign languages and cultures we don’t share,
And it is not surprising we don’t do well “over there.” (1)
- “Over There” was a rousing song by George M. Cohan in 1917, when the USA joined the Allies in WW I. The victories in Europe and the Middle East led to the Versailles Treaty and the Sykes-Picot agreement that caused a whole new set of international problems.