When war theories collide
What the Vietnam War should have taught us
Victor Davis Hanson
The Al Qaedas and former Baathists anticipate another impending U.S. retreat, like the 1984 flight from Lebanon or the 1993 exit from Somalia after the horrific dragging of American bodies in the streets of Mogadishu. Both pullouts, now enshrined in Al Qaeda propaganda, contributed to the pre-Sept. 11, 2001, folklore that the United States lacked the stamina to defeat terrorists.
There are lessons here. When the United States has stayed on after fighting dictatorial enemies--admittedly for decades in Italy, Germany, Japan, Korea and the Balkans--progress toward democracy and prosperity ensued. Disengagement from unresolved messy problems--whether from Europe after World War I, Vietnam in 1973, Beirut after the Marine barracks bombings, Afghanistan after the Soviet defeat, or Iraq in 1991--only left murderous chaos or the "peace" of authoritarian dictators.
Those who now evoke Vietnam should think carefully of the entire lesson of that tragedy. We hear daily of how we once foolishly got into that chaos but rarely of the lessons on how we got out.
Hanson wrote an excellent, well thought-out Piece, well worth a double Read. Islamic Fundamentalism does estimate the United States can be foiled by intransigent, durative resistance to American aims. It is a Cornerstone to their Policy, and they possess the financial assets and physical numbers to sustain Terrorist activities for decades. Here is where Hanson and Bush policy fails: The American people simply will not endure a War of Attrition without perceptible gain. Reality states WE really should not have to!
The Author, in a prior published Book, recounted the folly of sustained American military deployments, Such allowing International Terrorists and Enemies to mount guerilla operations against the deployed elements. This is exactly what Bush policy initiatives has resulted in. It is Time for Change.
This Change does not mean unilateral Withdrawal, but utilization of modern technology combined with compelled Iraqi control. American military presence in Iraq should be reduced--both in Mission Statement and Activity. All American forces, except for Special Intelligence units, will cease patrolling. They will be confined to American military installations supplied by Air, and serve only as Reaction Force elements. All Ground-vehicle traffic will be conducted by native Iraqi elements. Iraq will become an American Air war, with Ground forces only moved by helicopter. Iraqi Patrol elements will be equipped with Radios similar to American Police units--they are Unit identification broadcasters with continuous Computer surveillance for special Sounds or Voice commands.
Insurgents must learn they cannot reach American military personnel easily, that American military Reaction Force is swift and overwhelming, and attack on native Iraqi security forces will generate an immediate American military response. We approach another American Independence Day, so it is time to learn how to Fight Smart and Fight Safe. American military command may state this will not crush the Insurgents, but Vietnam has taught All that dedicated Insurgency cannot be crushed. A military Victory cannot be attained, but an intelligent 'Hearts and Minds' campaign can suck the energy out of an Insurgency. lgl