r/worldnews Sep 22 '22

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u/uiucecethrowaway999 Sep 23 '22 edited Jun 01 '23

It’s far worse than a Vietnam, and in more relevant comparison, far worse than the Soviet Union’s Afghan misadventures.

The US military was never defeated in a sizeable military engagement in the Vietnam War. In fact, the power balance between the US military and the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong wildly skewed in favor of the US, and even then, the US was only partially committed to involvement in the war throughout the duration of its involvement in it.

Similarly, the Soviets massively outgunned the Afghan mujahideen in Afghanistan. The images preserved in public memory of insurgents shooting down scores of Soviet aircraft with ease using American Stingers are misrepresentative of the conflict. The mujahideen spent far more time getting blown up by the Soviets than they did inflicting this same treatment upon the Soviets. The Soviets left because their country’s economy was in the shitter and they weren’t exactly succeeding at winning over to Soviet communism the Afghans - who time after time, have consistently been shown to give zero shits about the foreign political ideologies. After all, what do communism and capitalism mean to a country that has not gone through an industrial revolution?

The Russians (and their predecessor in the form of the Soviet Union) have not suffered military defeats of this scale since WW2. Their failures in Chechnya and Afghanistan have nothing on their debacle in Ukraine. If we are to draw a historical comparison - and I usually eschew the generalizing cliche that history repeats - perhaps this is their next 1905?


u/LordAwesomesauce Sep 23 '22

The Russo-Japanese war. Japan kicked their ass and announced their arrival as a world power.


u/gimpwiz Sep 23 '22

Funnily enough, as the Russians prepared to fight the Japanese, they were so confident that - the direct(ish) translation is that they would win by "throwing their hats [at them.]"


u/jametron2014 Sep 23 '22

And thus, Odd Job was born. Followed closely by his descendant, Random Task.


u/OccupyRiverdale Sep 23 '22

Looking at casualties alone it’s clear this is much much worse for Russia than Vietnam was for the United States. The United States different around 58,000 casualties over the course of the war which lasted from 1955-1975. To be fair the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed in 1964 which saw the first major deployment of combat troops so if you just want to start counting from there it’s around 5,200 casualties a year. The Russians are estimated to have around 80,000 casualties in 7 months! That’s 11,000 a month. The numbers are vastly and demonstrate you cannot compare the societal damage done by them.


u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

And tbh the US society is still scarred by Vietnam. I wonder how this will impact Russia, which has a much smaller population in comparison. And already a large gender divide..


u/copper-vomit Sep 24 '22

If I'm frank? You are looking at a humanitarian catastrophe for both Ukraine and Russia.


u/Stinkyclamjuice15 Sep 23 '22

The extent of my knowledge on this ends with metal gear solid 5.


u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

Crazy how badass the Afghans are. How the hell did they become such good fighters. Reminds me of "Lone Survivor." Those guys were relentless.


u/batdan Sep 23 '22

I suspect they weren’t good fighters so much as they just never gave up.

I heard once that all wars are wars of attrition. The loser is not defeated. They just give up.


u/Uglik Sep 23 '22

I mean, definitely not all wars. The Mongols and Romans would slaughter whole cities if they didn’t submit.


u/Thinking_waffle Sep 23 '22

The Romans also survived being defeated over and over again thanks to a relentless idea that they would win every war legally declared because those would be approved by the gods and therefore those gods would grant them victory. Lots of other polities would have made peace at some point during the second Punic war, heck even during the first one after losing their third navy. But no, they continued over and over until Carthage sued for peace... then once in a position of strength they could afford to be the colony founding, monument building pricks we all know and love.


u/batdan Sep 23 '22

Yeah, ALL is definitely an exaggeration.

Could the US have won the war in Afghanistan if we were willing to systematically eradicate those who opposed us? Probably.

Thankfully, our portion of the world doesn’t generally accept that sort of behavior.


u/uiucecethrowaway999 Sep 23 '22

We did win, in the sense that we defeated the Taliban with ease. Compared to the Iraqi military of 1991/2003 who we steamrolled through, the Taliban were/are mere ragtag rebels.

We lost because we tried to prop up Western style liberalism in a country that didn’t give two fucks about such ideologies. It’s hard to give a shit about liberalism/communism/fascism/etc. when your country hasn’t even gone through the Industrial Revolution or some equivalent of it.


u/Parablesque-Q Sep 23 '22

"The victor is not victorious if the vanquished does not consider themselves so."


u/sin-and-love Sep 23 '22

their country is mountainous caves, so it's like playing whack-a-mole and minesweeper at the same time.


u/uiucecethrowaway999 Sep 23 '22 edited Jun 01 '23

That’s not really the point though.

The Mujahideen forces had no chance of defeating the Soviets in any military bout. It isn’t surprising - no amount of pluck or ‘insert ethnic group> fighting courage’ can defeat overwhelming firepower.

The Soviets, like the US later on (albeit to a lesser degree - American forces never even came close to struggling against the Taliban) failed in Afghanistan because their objective of spreading their political ideologies/influence in the country failed.

American liberalism and Soviet communism are ideologies that have practically defined the modern political viewpoint worldwide. But this is not so much the case in Afghanistan, wherein politics is still largely determined by tribal, ethnic, and religious differences. The legacy of the exploited European factory workers that inspired Marx or the anti-monarchist revolutions in Europe and the Americas that gave rise to liberalism would understandably have no sway on a people who have for their entire lives, fought, lived, and thought along tribal/ethnic/religious lines in a land yet to undergo an industrial revolution.


u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

Excellent explanation. Thank you. That helps me to understand. It's remarkable how long the US tried to push our ideologies and it didn't work. I wonder how many people it worked on, like, did it increase the amount of people seeking to migrate away from Afghanistan. I imagine the impact, if any, will be reflected in history books. Did we have any impactful change positive or negative in that long period of time compared to Russia.


u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

Yes, life improved dramatically for women during the occupation and that’s an objective fact


u/[deleted] Sep 24 '22

Will it stay that way? I know they are kind of backpedaling. Thankfully it seems the taliban are less crazy? I think because they have all that American military equipment, they feel more powerful.


u/jaiagreen Sep 23 '22

What I worry about is Ukraine suffering the fate of Afghanistan (or Vietnam). Sure, they've successfully made this a war of attrition and after a while are likely to persuade Russia to leave. But how much of Ukraine gets destroyed in the meantime?


u/flopsyplum Sep 23 '22

This will be much worse than Vietnam. Vietnam wasn’t backed by the richest countries in the world, and the U.S. wasn’t sanctioned.


u/Vondett Sep 23 '22

It was backed by USSR all the way ... or am I wrong ... ?🤔


u/flopsyplum Sep 23 '22

The U.S.S.R. wasn’t the richest country in the world…


u/Graega Sep 23 '22

Wait till the midterms. As deep in Russian pockets as so many GOP are, if Congress shifts watch them try to end our support of Ukraine.


u/RayTracing_Corp Sep 23 '22

Are you fucking serious or do you just not know history.

Vietnam was bankrolled by The Soviet motherfucking Union AND China. It had some serious backing.


u/flopsyplum Sep 23 '22

The U.S. was richer than the U.S.S.R., and China was a poor country until the 1980s.


u/Equivalent_Yak8215 Sep 23 '22



u/seanflyon Sep 23 '22

Like Afghanistan, but a lot worse for Russia. They have already lost more people in Ukraine than they did in Afghanistan.


u/Equivalent_Yak8215 Sep 24 '22

A ton worse for Russia because actual military operations aren't happening.


u/Boxy310 Sep 23 '22

"We've had one Vietnam, yes. But what about Second Vietnam?"


u/Donkey__Balls Sep 23 '22

I don’t think Putin knows about second Vietnams, Pip…


u/AnAutisticGuy Sep 23 '22

It's also looking like a Russian Afghanistan where, let's say, the Russias attacked Afghanistan and lost many lives and then lost anyway.


u/Toolazytolink Sep 23 '22

Im gna need a HBO Band of Brothers type show when this ends, Ukrainian hero's need their stories to be seen


u/[deleted] Sep 23 '22

Don't worry, there'll be no shortage of movies and docs about Zelensky over the next 20 years.


u/Future_Chipmunk_7897 Sep 23 '22

While waiting, check out the documentary Winter on Fire.


u/KmartQuality Sep 23 '22 edited Sep 23 '22

This is nothing like vietnam. Vietnam was a 10 year war on the other side of the world. This war is as if vietnam was Quebec and in 6 months the same number of soldiers are dead and there is a risk of the economy imploding and the government in D.C. collapsing under its own thin legged over extension and incompetence.

Anyway. The common belief that the US lost to Vietnam is incorrect. Vietnam both lost in the most horrible violent way, and then some of them finally wont the final battle against their own brothers. The U.S. decided it was time to go home because they didn't care enough anymore, and the south Vietnamese forces didn't have the spirit anymore. Vietnam both won and lost; the United States went home.

The U.S. accomplished its major goal of stopping the forward march of communism in Asia, even if they did lose Vietnam. It was never about Vietnam. It was about communism. No other country has fallen to communism since the end of that war, and indeed, with continued economic pressure communism, as it was fought for, is dead even in Vietnam.

Edit I said it was a 10 year war for the US. For vietnam is was a continuation from a fight with the french for more than a decade before.


u/J-Team07 Sep 23 '22

This is Russia’s Afghanistan. Vietnam didn’t lead to the overthrow and dissolution of an empire.