We were shocked and surprised how fast the Afghan government collapsed even after 20 years of the support by the world’s wealthiest countries. It cost billions of dollars and sacrifices of thousands of lives. It reminds me of collapse of the Nationalist Chinese government in 1947. It took only two years to disintegrate after Japan surrendered. It shows how little we learn from history, and how expensive it is to ignore lessons of history.
In spite of heavy investment in money and personnel by the United States and the allies, China in 1947, Vietnam in 1970, and Afghanistan in 2021 all collapsed fast. Douglass MacArthur, the victorious Supreme Commander of the World War in the Pacific and the in Korea said, “Anyone who contemplates another war in Asia has to have his head examined.”
I met an ex-solider when he came back from China. It was 1947: Japan surrendered in 1945. His regiment was disarmed and disbanded but returned home a few years later than others. The delay was caused by the Communist/Nationalist conflict in China. Only a few days after his unit had been disarmed, they were armed again under the command of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Nationalist government. They were ordered to make 180 degree about face to face the advancing the Communist “People’s Liberation Army” under Mao Zedong. The battle didn’t last long. The Nationalist command structure disintegrated soon and in two years China was taken over by the Communists. Speed was breath-taking.
The whole organization of the Chinese Nationalist Party escaped to Taiwan where it still resides. The victorious Western powers of the WWII, particularly the United States, who supported the Chiang Kai-shek long before “Pearl Harbour,” were shocked how easy and fast the collapse of the Nationalist China was. It was particularly frustrating considering the large sum of money and of deep commitment by American Air Force volunteer personnel who helped the Chinese Nationalists.
However, from the perspective of Japanese colonial expatriates who had to escape the advancing Chinese and Russian armies in North Eastern China, it was easy to understand what happened. Initially Japanese entrepreneurs who had had farms and factories in Korea and Manchuria, including my father’s family, found themselves hiding their valuables and disguise women and girls like men, to protect themselves against the advancing armies. They were commanded by the corrupt leadership whose soldiers were a bunch of thugs according to my uncle. But later the situation became a lot better and safer when the Chinese Communists’ People’s Liberation Army replaced Chinese Nationalists and Russians. They were better disciplined and orderly, said my uncle.
I wish someone good in historical analysis could tell me whyt happened in China in the 1940’s, in Vietnam in the 1970’s and in Afghanistan in the 2000’s where.