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Interesting thesis, but my take would be that Kennedy - or, more accurately, the anticommunist hardliners Kennedy had to use at State and DoD - hijacked the SF, originally envisioned as counter-communist guerillas to use as trainers and UW fighters for a bunch of pretty unsavory regimes who spun gold out of the straw of "anticommunism".

Example: the RVN. We look at the atrocities of the PRVN but 20-20 hindsight fails to remember what a really rotten, thoroughly corrupt, hopelessly compromised bunch the elites who we fought for in the South were. As bad as the NVN system was, the SVN government unravelled faster than we could prop it up for the simple reason that it was NOT a Vietnamese government, it was the corpse of French colonialism propped up and rotting from within.

The problem I see is that Kennedy, like his cold-warrior contemporaries, couldn't see past the socalist trappings to distinguish the real Comintern false flags from the genuine locals pissed off at the colonialist trappings foisted on them as their "legitimate" governments. So we helped prop up people like Somoza in Nicaragua, Strossner in Argentina, Marcos in the PI, expending our counterinsurgency money fighting for "our sons-of-bitches", whose corruption, greed and hatred of their people simply put off the "revolution" for another day and made us look like fellow corrupt, oligarchic bastards, rather than trying to side AGAINST the post-colonial oligarchs.

In the 1990s we did the same in Afghanistan, empowering the mullahs and mujihaddin just because they fought the dirty commies. What would have happened if we'd left the Soviets in charge there? We have an example right next door, and I'd say that we'd be a LOT happier today if Afghanistan in 2001 had looked like Kazakhstan or Kyrgistan in 2001.

Bush has achieved less because, relative to the simple Red-vs-Blue political structure of the Kennedy Era, he has less to work with. Kennedy could mobilize the nation against the truly terrifying Soviet threat. Bush has to figure out how to fight a pudding of jihadist groups that aren't really an existential threat. Now, admittedly, he's done about as crappy a job as anyone could, but I'm not sure that Kennedy could have done any better. Let's face it, in the 1960's and 1970's we threw a lot of men and money at facist Greek colonels, corrupt Filipino generals and nasty Central American tyrants, but the reason the Soviet Union fell apart had more to do with the fact that no one wanted to wear Bulgarian sneakers and listen to Polish rock bands than the efforts of our COIN warriors. The real difference between then and now is that the loyal Bushies haven't figured that out. Right now we're all stick, no carrot.

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