Saturday, August 06, 2005

And the faster the better . . .

From letters in the August 6th StarTribune:
Raising the white flag

Columnist Nick Coleman now contends the citizenry ought to rise up and start yelling about the Iraq war (Star Tribune, Aug. 5). In so doing, he demonstrates an appalling ignorance of recent history.

During the Vietnam War, the Communists, knowing they could not defeat us on the battlefields, came to believe they could win by simply outlasting us. To that end, their strategy became one of killing as many Americans as possible until the American people gave up and left. It worked.

Now some Americans want to make exactly the same mistake in Iraq that we made in Vietnam.

Thomas Malone, Minnetonka.

Spotty says that Tommy is the one who's appallingly ignorant of recent history. Robert McNamara and the Pentagon concluded early in the Johnson administration that the Vietnam conflict was unwinnable. Johnson knew this; it is probably the reason he didn't stand for office in 1968. Johnson did not want the war lost on his watch.

In a CNN interview, McNamara said this about the Vietnam conflict:
This was much more a civil war than a war of aggression. I'm not arguing that there wasn't an element of aggression in it; I'm not arguing that the Chinese and the Soviets might not have tried to use South Vietnam as a launching pad to knock over the dominoes of Malaysia and Thailand and Indonesia and whatever. But what I am arguing is that the conflict within South Vietnam itself had all of the characteristics of a civil war, and we didn't look upon it as largely a civil war, and we weren't measuring our progress, as one would have in what was largely a civil war. ...

It is said that the military operated with one hand tied behind their backs. To the extent that that refers to a restriction on land invasion by U.S. forces on North Vietnam, that's true. But today, General Westmoreland, who was the commander in Vietnam at the time, says that while at the time he felt he was constrained, he now understands that that was an effort by the president to prevent the U.S. coming into open military conflict with China and the Soviet Union. And Westmoreland says, "Thank God we avoided that. That was a correct policy at the time." Could more military pressure have been applied, in the sense of more bombing of the North? In one sense, no. We dropped two or three times as much bombs in North and South Vietnam as were dropped by all Allied Forces throughout World War II against all enemies. It was a tremendous air effort. But there are certain things bombing can't accomplish. They can't break the will of people under certain circumstances. They didn't break the will of the North Vietnamese. And it cannot stop the movement of the small quantities of supplies that were necessary to support the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese forces in the South. They didn't, and it couldn't; and no additional amount of money [or] bombing could have. ...

As early as December 1965, I reported to the President that I believed there was no more than a one-in-three chance -- at best a one-in-two chance -- that we could achieve our political objectives, i.e. avoiding the loss of South Vietnam, by military means.

Well, Tommy boy, that sounds a awful lot like Iraq, especially the civil war part. I guess we're just about as good at politics in the Middle East as we are in Southeast Asia! If we had followed Stay the Course Bush's policy in Vietnam, John McCain and the rest of his buddies would still be in the Hanoi Hilton.

Spotty is all in favor of making the same mistake in Iraq as we finally did in Vietnam. But then, Spotty is not so contaminated with hubris that he believes that the United States is so exceptional that it always wins.


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