Friday, December 15, 2006

Vietnamization

This sign say "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
James Madison



Ho Ho Ho


I wonder if Saddam Santa has WMD's in his bag...

NOT


History is written by the victors.

It is with this notion that I am trying to understand the statements of President George W. Bush during his recent visit to Vietnam, in the shadow of the ongoing war in Iraq.

Bush stated there are lessons we can learn from Vietnam to help us achieve victory in Iraq. His two lessons: That it takes time for freedom to triumph, and that "We'll succeed, unless we quit."Trying to make sense of these lessons requires a greater leap from reality than I am willing to take. Are we to assume that Bush thinks the U.S. could have won the war in Vietnam, and that country would be a better place today, if we hadn't left, if we were still there bombing them into oblivion? But then, that contradicts Bush's other statements, on how Vietnam has improved since we quit the place 31 years ago."For decades, you had been torn apart by war," Bush said. "And today, the Vietnamese people are at peace and seeing the benefits of reform."


All of these statements are even more surreal when you add in the image of Bush standing in front of a bust of Ho Chi Minh, visiting with government officials who defeated the American forces, handing the U.S. its most serious military defeat to date. Yes, there are lessons to be learned from mistakes of the past. But first, we must recognize the mistakes, or we will be doomed to repeat them. And when it comes to the war in Iraq, we are in a serious déjà vu state of mind.

Let's take Bush's central strategy for victory, that "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." Boiled down, this means we train the Iraqis to take over the fighting so American forces can start coming home. This is Richard Nixon's Vietnamization doctrine with a new coat of paint, but the same tired engine under the hood.If you want a lesson from history, here's a good one:


Vietnamization didn't work, even with a far more cohesive military force than we have in Iraq, armed to the teeth with our best weapons. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is afraid to hand over any heavy weapons to the Iraqi forces for fear they will use them on each other, and on coalition forces.

What do you say when your current policy is failing worse than the old failed policy it was based on?Maybe we should ask Henry Kissinger. He had a front-row seat for Vietnamization. He has also been one of the main figures advising Bush to stay the course in Iraq. Yet now, he has come out to say the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily. Maybe this old warhorse has started to learn from his own history.Perhaps the real lessons of history need to come from the winners of these conflicts.

In The Associated Press story of Bush's visit to Vietnam, the reporter spoke to Huynh Tuyet, 71, a veteran of the war who lost a hand fighting against American forces. "Even though the Americans were more powerful with all their massive weapons, the main factor in war is the people," he said. "The Vietnamese people were very determined. We would not give up. That's why we won."

The Iraqi people seem very determined as well, and there is no sign of them giving up. A recent poll taken in Iraq shows that a wide majority of respondents feel American troops provoke more violence than they prevent, and they want us to leave.

Maybe another important lesson to learn from Vietnam is that the country didn't start getting better until after we left.Bush didn't set out to repeat the Vietnam War game plan, yet it seems that is exactly what he has accomplished so far.

The only real debate left is whether Iraq will end the same way Vietnam did. Are we doomed to defeat, or is there a way to put the pieces back together? Whatever your viewpoint, it's clear we aren't going to achieve a result different than Vietnam unless we stop following the same script. And that's the best lesson we can learn.

3 comments:

Rose Covered Glasses said...

There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

Psychomikeo said...

Thanx for the input

beachblogger said...

Dear Psychomikeo,

Great freewayblogs. i like the idea of doing a snow blog but it doesn't like you've got enough snow yet.

i work in the MIC and agree with what rgc is saying. the administration does have an effect on the bureaucrats and right now the leaders have made stupidity and stubbornness desirable traits and empowered bureaucrats to act that way. the influence of fundamental religion also has an effect: to some, the apocalypse would be a successful outcome.

Bushrumroveco has never been successful at anything except influence peddling and insider trading. to them, bankruptcy is a successful business model if you can steal all the money before they shut you down.

fundamentally, when you start a war on terror you are defeated; the terrorists wanted to start a war, they achieved their goal, you lose.

Mr. Rumsfeld made a fatal mistake when he failed to secure the tons of explosives which were then looted and are now used as IEDs to deadly effect. this failure was pure stupidity. explosives have always been the weapon of choice for terrorists, guerrillas and insurgencies. don’t these people ever watch tv or read popular fiction? much less study history?

chaos now or chaos later, the difference: 3,000 deaths vs. 50,000, 4 years vs. 10 years (rom).

may the beach be with you!
peace, peter