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Lesson of Vietnam Lost in Afghanistan

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Posted on Aug 20, 2009
American troops in Afghanistan
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U.S. soldiers in 2007 search mountains in the Andar province of Afghanistan for Taliban members and weapons caches.

By Stanley Kutler

On Aug. 17, President Barack Obama made the obligatory presidential pilgrimage to the conclave of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, this time on Sen. John McCain’s home turf. The Phoenix speech, carried live on cable networks, captured a VFW audience often surly and seemingly uninterested in the president’s remarks. But at one point, he predictably brought even his recalcitrant audience to its feet when he made a pitch for his health care proposals: “One thing that reform won’t change is veterans’ health care. No one is going to take away your benefits. That’s the truth.” No doubt.

Away from the convention, the president and his spokespersons spent much of the day backing and filling on health care. Did he or didn’t he favor a public option? How much would “his” package (did he have one?) cost? And what about those “death panels”?

But for the VFW, Obama concentrated on the expanding war in Afghanistan—the war he now proudly asserts as his own. After in effect declaring victory in Iraq to justify the removal of American troops, Obama promised he now would “refocus” our efforts to “win” in Afghanistan. As Obama made abundantly clear in his presidential campaign, this was his war of choice, the one he consistently has said is necessary to eliminate al-Qaida, which had taken refuge in the desolate Afghan mountains.

During the campaign, he seemed at pains to demonstrate he was not the caricatured soft liberal when it came to American military power. Although Obama consistently has admitted, as he did before the VFW in Arizona, that military power alone will not be sufficient, he nevertheless has insisted that his “new strategy” has the clear mission “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida.” Obama knows that defeat of the Taliban is essential to this strategy. “If left unchecked,” he has remarked, the Taliban insurgency will bring “an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaida would plot to kill more Americans.” It is not, he maintains, a “war of choice,” but “a war of necessity.”

In 1991, following the defeat of Saddam Hussein and Iraqi forces in Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush proudly announced that we had “kicked the Vietnam Syndrome.” His successor son, propelled by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, heady with 2003’s lightning rout of Iraqi forces, believed he had restored the “can do” notions of World War II for the military component of American foreign policy.

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The same day President Obama spoke to the VFW, The New York Times carried a dispatch from Afghanistan in which a villager talked about his security and the difference between night and day: “When you [the Americans] leave here, the Taliban will come at night and ask us why we were talking to you,” a villager named Abdul Razzaq said. “If we cooperate [with the U.S.], they would kill us.”

Déjà vu all over again. The U.S. military in Vietnam often announced it had killed a particular number of Viet Cong and had “freed” a village. The Americans left, assuming the enemy had lost control, but at night, of course, the VC returned and reminded villagers of the reality.

Whatever “syndrome” we kicked, Vietnam’s primary lesson remains intact: American power is not without limits, both in terms of defeating an enemy and in terms of its domestic support. The primary lesson of Vietnam seems to be that it is a lesson lost. And now we have some of the same intractable problems in Afghanistan.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke recently called Vietnam War historian Stanley Karnow for advice. After the conversation, Karnow told the AP that the main lesson to be learned from Vietnam was that “we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.” We apparently don’t know what was said on the other end in Karnow’s talk with the general and the envoy, but McChrystal has asked for more troops.

As Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson expanded the American commitment in Vietnam, their deputies regularly insisted that the insurgency had Chinese support and backing. “Peiping,” as Secretary of State Dean Rusk said in blatantly demeaning the Chinese, was to blame. If the government had had any historians with the courage to speak truth to power, they would have pointed to a millennium of historical enmity between the Chinese and the Vietnamese. As if to prove the point, the Chinese launched war against the victorious Vietnamese in 1975, only to suffer an embarrassing defeat.

The historical lessons for Afghanistan are clear. The British readily acknowledge their defeat. Surely the Russians know that Afghanistan was their Vietnam—with some not-so-covert intervention by the CIA. Afghanistan has been a graveyard for imperial ambitions, however noble and ostensibly good the ventures may have been. Long after the Guns of Health Care Reform are stilled, Afghanistan apparently promises to be with President Obama—and us—for a very long time.

We thought we defeated the Taliban once before; and now it is back again. President Obama believes we must do more to roll back the Taliban. But what can we do with the ethnic and tribal rivalries, the corruption and inefficiency in Kabul, all of which are related to the place of the Taliban? Will the U.S. be able to destroy, everywhere in the country, the Taliban’s grip on power? Does anyone in Obama’s circle ask “why?”

We can ponder the alternative. If successful, the Taliban might offer “an even larger safe haven” for al-Qaida and similar groups. But now, without Taliban control of the Afghanistan government, “safe havens” persist in the mountains of the country and in the northwest provinces of Pakistan. The situation is not much different than it was in 2001, except that the safe area for terrorists may be smaller. But what is different is our intelligence, our use of it, our vigilance and our capacity to strike with sophisticated air weapons.

Americans are questioning the Afghanistan involvement as never before. A Washington Post-ABC Poll, published this week, for the first time showed a majority of Americans opposed to the war. Meanwhile, suicide bombings and other attacks mount in Kabul. U.S. troops can protect the citizenry only sporadically, and with limitations. But inevitably, Americans will ask how long we will remain in Afghanistan, how many troops will be needed, and whether the costs in lives and treasure justify the venture. As with the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army, chances of our destroying the Taliban are slight. Eventually, the Afghans—Taliban or otherwise—will inherit their land and have to assume responsibility for governing. We, like the British and the Russians before us, will fade into Afghanistan’s history.

Stanley Kutler is the author of “The Wars of Watergate” and other writings.


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By DE Teodoru, August 24, 2009 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Morgan1, I deeply appreciate you reminding us all in your way of the Santayana warning: those who do not look at history are doomed to repeat it. Finally in America after a decade treck growing up as a refugee, I took it upon myself to defend it against my European friends. But one thing that I must admit is that even if they study it, Americans do not put history to intellectual scrutiny. A bunch of NYC Commies gave to America in 1964 a sense of freedom as a responsibility to study and debate; with their FSM success at UC Berkely, instead of a Red Revolution they demanded MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE. So for contrast compare the Vietnam Teach-ins, where MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE was standard fare to the crap you get today from the Bush-its or the mindless military. It’s like, why read when you can shoot or bomb?

My only point is that it’s deja vu all over again! Except that now Americans suffer from the “ain’t my kid going to Iraq disconnect sydrome.” Since 9/11 academics have been scared to death, as even Pat Buchanan admitted in AMERICAN CONSERVATIVES, ever since Zionist pressures forced through Congress a bill that all Mideast academic funding had to be vetted by them. The land of democracy I was dragged to is nowhere near than now. People go to maimed vets or their widows and orphans and say “thanks for your service” and move on as if they never existed; it means as little as “Hi, how are you?” on the phone. As old-line Leninists, the neocons—IN CONTRAST TO THE ‘60s COMMIES LIKE DEAR OLD BETINA WHO IMPOSED MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE ON AMERICA, not Communism—operate by the old Lenin “professional revolutionary” dictum: POLARIZE TO MOBILIZE! Neopcns insist that they are the ONLY LEGITIMATE VOICE of American Jews; anyone who questioned their call for “World War IV” against Islam is deemed an “anti-Semite” or a “self-hating Jew.” And in slander they have served the extreme Right for cash, plying their Leninist tactics. Compare that with Betina and the NYC Reds. Their call for MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE had the FULL support of CAL CONSERVATIVES FOR POLITICAL ACTION and 25,000 of 27,000 students. No one for about two years dared avoid debate at teach-ins. Unfortunately it died as drugs and hedonia stole the energy and one time intellectual revolutionaries trying to understand turned into hippies trying to get high and get layed. In the meantime, president after president repeated the same self-centered politics of error. As pointed out with Watergate, the coverup is worse than the original crime. Can anyone doubt that it’s not ditto for Iraq and Afghan wars? So don’t let the dialogue stop, especially not while the blood is flowing!

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By bogi666, August 24, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Ronruth, one of the first persons notified by J.Edgar Hoover after the assassination was George H.W. Bush who was not, officially, on the government payroll at that time.

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By Rontruth, August 24, 2009 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

Morgan,
I read with interest your comments about LBJ. In 1984, LBJ’s corrupt business partner, Billy Sol Estes, gave sworn testimony and an affidavit stating that LBJ was behind the murders of eight individuals, most of them for his political protection and gain. One of them he listed was Jesepha Johnson, LBJ’s own sister, killed by Malcom Wallace’s favorite method: carbon monoxide poisoning.

The other one listed, at the bottom of the list, was President John F. Kennedy. Estes told the court that there were others, but that the eight were the most prominent people. What are your thoughts on this?

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By Leefeller, August 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

Is it not a possibility manipulation by the Military complex and it’s opportunistic war hawk supporters is really why learning from mistakes is not in the cards?

Right Wing Authoritarians as some prefer to refer, have a limited learning curve and aversion to enlightenment, for they are born that way, very similar to being gay. 

One can surmise, Nazi Germans may have castrated the wrong people because they were born that way?

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By morgan1, August 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

I don’t normally go back to read comments after I make my own; however, those being made are very articulate, historically correct although at least one is a bit Far right. That being said, I did not imply LBJ was perfect, or without many ill deeds in his past. I am a Texan and grew up with full knowledge of his reported misdeeds. Were it not for him there would be no Medicare or Medicaid, or the social problems he put in place by force of will and arm twisting. He did not want the war, and wanted out but McNamara in particularly had his ear and convinced him the conflict would be short and not bloody. Even McNamara has gone up record as giving that information to LBJ and he listened. As for Obama being clean, that may be, but he did not take a majority by a landslide—He squeaked in. All that being said, the point being missed here is Obama is doing the same mistakes LBJ did. Vietnam stopped all other efforts LBJ wanted to accomplish for this country for it ate him alive and his Administration. This will be no different for Obama. Thanks for your feedback and I will be more articulate in the future at this site in particular. I seem to be in excellent intellectual and street smart company.

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By DE Teodoru, August 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco and his meeting with JFK in Vienna, Khrushchev approved Hanoi’s so-called “Dien Bien Phu” attack of Nam Tha on the Lao-Thai border; he hoped JFK would send in troops to block Hanoi’s advance into Laos, right under China’s soft underbelly so that China would be so scared that it would depose Mao and replace him with Liu Shao-chi (a secret Soviet agent since Stalin and second in line after Mao), returning to the Soviet camp. After Nam Tha invasion, Ike called the new President and warned him that if he does nothing Ike will denounce him. But after Bay of Pigs fiasco, JFK feared that he would never get re-elected if Laos resulted in major war. So then JFK made a political, not strategic, decision: OUR LINE IN THE SAND WOULD MOVE BACK TO SOUTH VIETNAM. Ike accepted that in return for Geneva treaty calling for removal of both US and PAVN troops from Laos. This, in effect, gave Laos to Hanoi. Then, to woo Hanoi from Khrushchev, Zhou En-lai offered Hanoi full supply of a PAVN invasion force sent south to destroy ARVN before the US had a chance to send in troops. Then said Zhou, VC could use the “coalition gov” tactic to takeover South VN. Diem realized that with Laos gone South Vietnam was defenseless so he sought to make peace with Hanoi. JFK feared that this would produce a coalition gov that would make him look like a loser in 1964 election. So he sent the defeated Republican VP candidate with Nixon in 1960 as ambassador to Saigon to run the coup. That way, if it goes bad, the Republicans can’t say anything because the man expected to run against JFK in 1964 was in charge of it. That JFK was going to abandon Vietnam only after his re-election is a matter of record. The JFK plan left his successor LBJ with a war he couldn’t afford to lose to lose. So he kept kept supporting coup after coup, like a revolving door, because every general we put in power went to France for help negotiating a coalition gov with VC. Finally Ky and Thieu chose to stand and fight all the way with LBJ. It is only when the war became an invasion by PAVN regular forces from the North instead of local VC guerrillas that LBJ reluctantly sent in troops because he didn’t want to run for re-election in 1968 as the president who lost Vietnam.  BUSH WAS JUST LIKE JFK—A POLITICAL PRESIDENT, MORE CONCERNED ABOUT HIS IMAGE AS A LOSER THAN ABOUT THE WARS HE APPROVED.  Nixon was the only president since Ike who really had a strategic goal—to split USSR and China for good. We now know that the Afghan War was bait-and-switch to present Congress with an ongoing war in Iraq which it can’t, therefore, refuse to fund. Every step in our no-strategy war in Iraq was like JFK’s Vietnam War—totally determined by electoral priorities, not by strategic goals. Bush just wanted to hold out long enough to pass Iraq/Afghan to his successor and let him take the blame for failure. We killed a lot of people in those countries and lost a lot of very patriotic men, just so these two guys can get re-elected. Without star-whores generals at the Pentagon this could never have been accomplished. The DERELICTION OF DUTY GOES ONS AN ON AND ON! We can only hope that President Obama will not let the wars of others become his wars that his political future depends on because he didn’t set them right in time.

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By Rontruth, August 23, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

I appreciate what you said, Folktruther. All we dan do now is hope that enough average Americans can begin the see the enormity of the ongoing threat to democracy that has been perpetrated on all of us.

But, when the CIA and other covert agencies of government, send out their disinformation specialists, who such as Robert Dallek (Dalleck?) and Vincent Bugliosi to basically plagiarize the Warren Commission Report, changing the words a bit here and there, but conveying the same dishonest and purposely illinformed message, it is difficult to get the documented truth out there.

Peter Dale Scott did a manuscript, dated in 1970, called “The Dallas Conspiracy.” In it, he detailed a communication he had received at that time from a Mrs. Illya Mamantov. She had a letter she had received from a friend of her late husband, Colonnel Illya Mamantov, in which he quoted a certain George H. W. Bush in which Bush makes the statement, in reference to the JFK assassination by saying: “We did it.”

The CIA intervened when potential publishers of Scott’s manuscript had to check in with the Agency for any publications by intelligence operatives, of which Scott was, as you correctly, say, one.

If the American people could just be convinced of the validity of the threat from within the covert agencies of their own government, they might then be in better position to formulate laws that would prohibit the government from keeping actions that touch on issues of war and peace, secreted away from the very citizens whose sons and daughters are called upon to fight in those wars.

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By Folktruther, August 23, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

A startling narrative, Rontruth.  I hadn’t realized the pieces were starting to form a coherent picture of this magnitude, much of which is documented.  Peter Scott Dale, a Berkeley professor, and an ex-Canadian diplomat, and a fanatical researcher, argued that a coalition formed against Kennedy, but does not state in detail what it was.

This political murder, and especially its coverup, was a major historical event in US history, perhaps the initiation of the US power systems current descent into barbarism.  If, after all, you can get away with murdering a president in plain sight, and legitimate it with a ludicrous public relations event like the Warren Comminssion, why not initiate a War on Terrorism with a public relations event like the 9/11-anthrax mass murder.

The implications of these political murders are buried deep in the psyche of the American people, even though only the media truthers of the Educated classes now defend the Offical Story.  But Americans, including Progressive truthers, are afraid to examine them, becuase the simple truth so heavily tarnishes the US cover story of Freedom&Democracy;.  But the simple truth about this offical violence is well work telling, Rontruth, and allows Dems to peek under the powerbull of the US media truth.

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By Rontruth, August 23, 2009 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

I can see that beerdoc… has not followed the actual time line of the Kennedy administration’s involvement in Vietnam.

A. Kennedy inherited it, the 2,500 US advisors Ike and Nixon sent in to Vietnam before Kennedy took over. The national “security” (pure BS) orders from Eisenhower that sent the advisors into Vietnam as well.

B. Kennedy built up the advisor forces there,  under the existing orders until, after Gen. Taylor and Def. Sec. MacNamara’s report to Kennedy about the success of JFK’s “Strategic Villages Initiative” having reduced tensions between South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority and Catholci minority, he felt that peace between them would produce the “victory” that beerdoc refers to.

C. Kennedy then signs National Security Action Memo #263, the withdrawal order. This order was countermanded in a document, prepared by General Ed Lansdale and CIA’s William King Harvey five days BEFORE Kennedy’s assassination. (see the letter, hand-written by James Files to a close friend who had it released to investigators at http://www.jfkmurdersolved.com after Files gave permission for it’s release. In the letter, Files tells his friend about the first drafting of the order that countered Kennedy’s withdrawal order.)

The intervening variable in all of this was the October, 1962 missile crisis: Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, and the close-call that could have easily produced WW 111, and the sea-change that both Kennedy and Kruschev went through during that time.

Both men realized that there could be no winners, and all sides would lose if nuclear war was started.

After that came the nuclear test ban treaties, and a new period of desire for “peaceful cooexistence.”
Thus, Kennedy, who started out burdened down with Eisenhower general orders and Nixon top secret terrorist activities in South Vietnam (the moving of nearly 1 million Catholics from North Vietnam to the Mekong River delta in the south, and the CIA ordered to “set up a scenario that would ultimately require US military intervention.” (Eisnhower’s orders to CIA Director, Allen Dulles).

Dulles’ CIA henchmen, Lucien Conein, George H. W. Bush, and others, went into South Vietnam with paramilitary counter-intelligence (misinformation specialists) to stir up trouble between the Buddhist majority and the Catholc minority. This is where the Vietnam conflict really began.

The above information was contained in the “Pentagon Papers” that hero, Daniel Ellsburg stole from a locked safe that he had access to, in 1970, when then President Nixon’s involvement in setting up the war in Vietnam documents were kept there under lock and key. Ellsburg took copies of them, and sent them to friendly sources at the New York Times which printed them.

The Nixon “White House Plumber’s” unit, that broke into Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel Complex, was started by Nixon to stop further leaks of top secret information. But, the CIA guys Nixon brought into his new “Plumber’s Unit” had all been involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the consequent assassination of President Kennedy.

Nixon, who was part of the JFK assassination plot, rewigned rather than have that fact “come above board to the world.” (Jack Ruby by videotaped interview while in Dallas County Jail for shooting Lee Oswald as shown on national TV. Nixon’s and the CIA’s direct involvement in the Kennedy killing was about to be exploded before the entire world. Nixon resigned instead.

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By thebeerdoctor, August 23, 2009 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

The myth about JFK’s withdrawal from Vietnam serves to remind us that liberal mythology is just as reckless as the reactionary type.
The much touted withdrawal order, was not, I repeat, not a command to get out of the Vietnam war, would not happen, without what Kennedy and his advisors of all political persuasions had achieved what they called victory. “The focus is on winning the war” Kennedy instructed. And before he his lifted off on the wings of a sainted dove, it should be remembered that it was Kennedy who first introduced napalm to the peasants of Vietnam. The United States government involvement in Southeast Asia went from what Noam Chomsky referred to as “terrorism to outright aggression”. So the idea of John Kennedy being a man of peace, is as ridiculous as his brother’s assertion in the presidential campaign 5 years later. Both of these men adhered to the cold warrior creed that fighting so-called communist regimes was the right thing to do, and neither one saw anything wrong with terrorism, assassinations and coups to achieve this goal.
Lastly, the Oliver Stone nonsense about the assassination. Can the people who prostrate before the Kennedy shrine, look up and consider that both of these chaps, were as they say, “all mobed up”? I guess an ugly double-cross of organised crime, simply isn’t sexy enough.

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By Rontruth, August 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

At the expense of boring others who post here to tears, I will just mention that, with the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, and comparisons with LBJ and his political “Waterloo;” Vietnam, there is one big difference between then and now. Like the beginnings of the buildup to Vietnam that Kennedy inherited from Eisenhower.

Mid-term, Kennedy, seeing American older teenagers, soon to serve, turning against the Vietnam war, and soon to be of voting age, turned against the escalating involvement of US “advisors,” and ordered the complete withdrawal of all US forces from Vietnam within a two year period. That wasn’t the only reason for turning against the Vietnam conflict. But, it was a leading reason.

LBJ, quite differently than Obama, had been thoroughly investigated by Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, and charges were being filed with the House Juciciary Committee, agasint Johnson for fraud, corruption, money laundering, bribery, and unexlained politically beneficial (to Johnson) murders in Texas, his home state.

He cooperated with the CIA, his big Texas oil buddies who stood ot lose $billions of oil profits due to Kennedy’s raising of oil extraction taxes, and plans to pull out of Vietnam, to not have a massive war effort there, and orgnized crime, and allowed security to be almost eliminated in those areas of the Dallas, Texas motorcade that were the physically most dangerous, The groups who had it in for JFK, after they set up an FBI/CIA stool pigeon, who reported to the FBI on their illegal activities, to take the blame, performed the hit job of the last century.

LBJ, from a political standpoint, had no real choice.
He either went along with their plot, and saved his own corrupt life, or refused and likely would have been outed by his big oil, CIA and Pentagon friends for the corruption and murders he was guilty of being behind. The Kennedy’s would have pulled him off the 1964 re-election ticket.

He would have been all washed up. He would then have likely been tried for the crimes he was involved with, before becoming Kennedy’s vice president, and would have spent many years in prison.

We all know what happened, to save Johnson who had traded what little was left of anything resembling honesty, by giving the Pentagon and big oil, facilitated by the illegal covert operations of the CIA, their ten year war in Vietnam. It was planned that way (US Army Colonel, Fletcher Prouty).

He wanted to be out of prison, thus he had to become president. They wanted their war in Vietnam. Cuba was really just an afterthought. Every president, since then, has needed Castro as their little communist to blame for the violence that the CIA and Pentagon had initiated in coups de etat, and terrorist acts in Central and South America. And they did just that.

LBJ, who had cooperated with the actual murderers of Kennedy, making sure the murder would take place in Johnson’s home state and the city of Dallas, whose mayor was the brother to one of the three top Air Force Generals fired by JFK over their lying to him about the chances of the Bay of Pigs invasion’s, what turned out to be small chances of success.

LBJ had inherited Kennedy’s withdrawal order, but reversed it on Nov. 29, 1963, a mere seven days after Kennedy’s assassination. Obama has inherited no such thing from the spoiled little bully, George W. Bush.

Obama was elected by a popular vote that, whether you agree with his policies thus far or not, he actually won on the basis of a tough political campaign, however many lies may have been told on either or both sides.

But, to be sure, the violence that took Kennedy’s life in front of rolling movie cameras, is still lurking in the spider’s web of the most wealthy intermational bankers on one hand, and the lowest assets that the CIA can hire. That is why I think people need to try to understand the predicament any peacefully intended president would find himself in.

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By morgan1, August 22, 2009 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

No one in the WH has learned anything from the Vietnam war and the ones who did, they are not listening to. The current answer right now seems to be:More troops, and we all know how escalation worked so well in Vietnam. Using the same rule of thumb for Afghanistan as applied to Iraq, if 20,000 plus troops are there already, it is safe to assume 20,000 plus mercernaries are there as well. As Obama has claimed Afghanistan as his, in 4 years hopefully it will drive him from office as he gets so deep in he can’t get out. If he for some reason is re-elected (I hope not), another 4 years will see Afghanistan as his Waterloo and disgrace. It ultimately destroyed LBJ and his legacy. Obama is not even in that league or that of Carter. He belongs with the Bushites and their legacy of lies and deceit.

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By bogi666, August 22, 2009 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

The Pentagon learned a lot from Vietnam. It learned not to allow new coverage, not to let reporters, report and most of all how to restrict protestation. This is accomplished by revolving the same troops, multiple deployments of the same personal. This reduces the number of Americans affected directly by the war because using the same troops over and over reduces the overall number of different troops actually engaged there. It also reduces the pool of the families directly involved directly in the war. The pool of protesters is significantly reduced. The use of Temporary Duty[TDY] troops, those sent to Af-Pak and Iraq for less than 90 days are not counted as being there but are counted as being at their home base. So, we really don’t know how many American troops are there. Then their are the high paid private contractors which pick up the slack. All in all we don’t have a clue about the goings on in the M.E. All we do know is that what we are told is going on there isn’t true. The Pentagon also learned how to lie from Nam.

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By Blackspeare, August 22, 2009 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

Lesson No. 2——Don’t fight an unpopular war with a conscripted army——Mothers can be so unreasonable at times!

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By DE Teodoru, August 22, 2009 at 6:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear thebeerdoctor, I don’t know what Oliver Stone claimed but the record is a matter of history: The White House tapes and various documents make it clear that JFK wanted South vietnam dumped after the 1964 election. He had made that clear to McNamara and kept it from Rusk because of the latter’s reaction. And how about it coming right from LBJ’s mouth in White House audiotapes? For JFK it was a matter of when, not if….But he felt that a Diem deal with Hanoi would lead to immediate VC takeover and thus would undercut his image just before 1964 election as he felt Hanoi would be blamed for the communization of Saigon and that would look bad, given how important he had said in publuic that a free Vietnam would be.

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By thebeerdoctor, August 22, 2009 at 3:15 am Link to this comment

re: danielet

“But JFK planned to abandon Vietnam after re-election.”

I think someone is mistaking Oliver Stone movie fiction, for actual, historical reality.

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By bogi666, August 22, 2009 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

The USA is a FAILED EMPIRE BY DEFINITION: A failed empire is when the wealth of the emperor, the colonizer[USA], is extracted to support the colonies, Afghanistan, Iraq and the over 800 U.S. military bases world wide. A successful empire is when the wealth of the colonies is extracted to enrich the colonizer. The USSR is a model of a failed empire, the wealth of the Russian Republic was extracted to support the other Soviet Republics. This is the model that the USA is following, the model of a failed empire. Just from a logical analysis the fact that the Pentagon has over 800 world wide bases in say 150 countries around the world is simply unaffordable and unsustainable. This is a no brainer, unless the USA becomes, perhaps has become, a military dictatorship. It was the absentee military ballots in 2000 that is in effect a military coup, which selected Bush to be president. This while 90,000 votes and voters were scrubbed, this according to Greg Palast.The NAZI’S proved, among others, that a military dictatorship is required for military conquest.

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By bogi666, August 22, 2009 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

There was never a “South” Vietnam, it was a figment of American imagination. My brother was in Nam and told me the following, which has been confirmed by other sources. He was stationed at an air base in Pleiku which had a wing of the “South” Vietnam air force attached to it. Whenever the base was going to be attacked the “South” Vietnamese aircraft left beforehand which is how my brother and his comrades knew they were be under attack that night.The “South” Vietnamese there knew ahead of time when the attack was coming because they had contact with the Viet Cong and were told ahead of time. The “South” Vietnamese did not tell the Americans an attack was forthcoming. It’s really that simple, THERE WAS NEVER A ‘SOUTH’ VIETNAM. Just what is it with America that creates “South” countries for civil wars except in its own country,the Confederacy. Also Ho Chi Mihn fought against the Japanese and their French collaborators in WW2 and Ho contacted Truman afterward and was ignored. The US then paid for the French war against the Vietnamese who had helped defeat the Japanese. The Japanese early victories in WW2 showed that the Europeans could be defeated and this did inspire Ho.

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By danielet, August 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm Link to this comment

JFK knew that Soviet missiles in Cuba had no nuclear warheads in them. But he let Khrushchev pull out without humiliating him by calling his bluff. In return Khrushchev gave JFK a nuclear treaty. So on big issues JFK proved strong and smart. But China and Hanoi had realized that when PAVN troops attacked Nam Tha on Lao-Thai border on Khrushchev’s orders, he was trying to draw US troops to China’s soft underbelly so it would remove Mao and come back to Soviets for protection. That’s why after he betrayed Hanoi with Laos treaty, China offered Hanoi full arming of divisions to attack South Vietnam before US turns it into a base. US surrender of Laos left South Vietnam defenseless so Diem tried to make a neutralization deal with Hanoi. JFK feared that such a deal between Viets would make him look bad before 1964 election so we promoted assassination of Diem. But JFK planned to abandon Vietnam after re-election. When in 1964 Rostow proved to LBJ that Hanoi was invading South Vietnam, LBJ decided to put in US troops, not wanting to be the President that loses to Reds; so he had to hold out for 8 yrs. Bush too didn’t want to be the loser in Iraq so he OKed the “surge” to hold, letting his successor lose Iraq and take the blame. Obama too didn’t want to seem soft on Taliban, so he accepted McChrystal demand for 20,000 troops. But as soon as he got them, McChrystal asked for another 12,000. He had no strategy, just hold out asking for more troops until Obama sais “no more” and then the lack of victory in Afghanistan is Obama’s fault for not giving him more troops. To get ahead at the Pentagon generals need wars with big enemy body count and few US casualties. That’s why we respond to insurgents with air and drone bombing, swelling the ranks of insurgencies with victims seeking revenge. On 60 MINUTES a general showed how a drone spots an insurgent with heat-sensing of his fired gun. General was proud of the PRECISE bombing that got that one guerrilla but never showed how many innocent civilians were collateral damage. Since the start of the Cold War presidents wanted victories but were casualties sensitive for political reasons. Now there’s no draft so people suffer from “ain’t my kid going to Iraq” disconnect syndrome. As a result they are more tolerant of casualties to “keep us safe.” Bush was the cheerleader made captain of the football team so he had a macho complex. As Cheney’s book will show Bush feared decision making responsibility so always set-up scapegoats, holding on in order to pass Iraq to his successor. Obama fearing to look “weak on terror” so far he gave McChrystal the troops he asked for. The only thing that’s changed is that as a result of that surge, McChrystal asked Obama for more troops. While JFK had Diem assassinated for trying to come to terms with Hanoi only for the sake of his image, he did resist the Pentagon trapping him in other wars. LBJ also feared being a WAR LOSING PRESIDENT and invested troops into Vietnam; but he refused to really hit supply line for Hanoi invasion of South Vietnam where it would be most effective in fear of war with China. Afghan War is only Taliban locals, even the alQaeda Arabs went back to Mideast. Obama has to decide if saving America from economic collapse means more to him than his image as “tough on terrorists.” If he has courage he will allow neighbors of Afghanistan in Shanghai Accord to take care of the Taliban rather than bomb Afghans into even more hating of US and supporting the Taliban. We can’t bomb people indiscriminantly to protect our troops, then send in more troops so we have to bomb innocent peole even more to protect our troops. There’s no global enemy as there was in the Cold War. But if we keep bombing innocents this way we will create a global hate of America that will be worse than the Communists. Without a strategy we are mere killers and the world will want revenge. We must pull back, give peace and humility a chance.

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By Nap, August 21, 2009 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“War is the natural state of men, not peace.”
If war is so natural then why every one in it is a mental wreck? Thou I won’t argue against (being mentally unbalance) could be a natural state of men. The lesson of war (win or lose) is not about the war itself at all, but of the people engaging and supporting a war of aggression for resources and trophy and such. But to learn anything requires critical thinking, not a strong suite of Americans for generations now.

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By Rontruth, August 21, 2009 at 7:07 pm Link to this comment

DE Trodoru,
Man, you just said a mouthful. All true, I fear. In Kennedy’s case, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. He not only made the deal about the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but, in addition, the deal with Russia directly, to agree to remove US Jupiter missiles from Turkey, just to get the Soviets to remove their nukes from Cuba, allowing Kennedy to look like a hero. But, we have to remember that all these things were started as foreign policy under Eisenhower, whose only personal issue was he did not want to be seen as somehow personally involved in what he ordered Nixon and the CIA to set up in Vietnam.

When Kennedy saw the future from the past in southeast Asia, he knew it was going to be another cut and run deal, while doing what you could to end US involvement in southeast Asia, and leaving Castro in power in Cuba.

It was then that he made his fateful decisions to use back-channels to settle things with Castro, or at least appear to do so while his brother was making other plans for Castro out of the Attorney General’s office. And, to order the withdrawal from Vietnam, which Memo (263) he ordered be kept top secret. Johnson saw his chance to have Gen. Landsdale and Bill Harvey create a countermanding Memo (273) which was drafted five days BEFORE the CIA/mafia hit teams finally caught him in a locally cooperative environment, in Dallas, Texas, Johnson’s home state.

The anti-Castro Cubans were the most ready and prepared local assassination teams, in coalescence with the CIA and Pentagon who had Vietnam and southeast Asia in mind for their cooperation in reducing the Army security, along with the Secret Service standdown, beginning, as is seen on film, with Love Field, Dallas. The plan was thereby set, with everyone of Kennedy’s enemies in full cooperation with each other.

We lost a president who wrongly decided that he, not the Pentagon and CIA, had the power to set US foreign policy. That got us the ten year war in Vietnam.

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By radson, August 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

Hello TDers

This was a response sent to a foreign blog site ,but I do believe that it is still pertinent to the subject matter at hand

 

Mr. Gras seems to be thinking along the US military industrial complex lines.Poland is not the only country that wishes to modernize their military capabilities ,Canada is a good example.It has been said
many times that more air support is being required to win ,or is it ,stabilize Afghanistan due to the constant Taliban pressure but the rationale for such expenditures ,is merely stating that the ground war
is not going as well as desired ,hence the increased demand for air travel and support.The tactics employed by the Coalition forces is not intended for a swift victory and never was.The Pakistani Afghan
border is as porous as Swiss cheese and has never been sealed ,the insurgents use Pakistan as a safe haven and regrouping area ,the Nato supplies wind through an unstable Pakistani network of roads and
are ambushed continuously ,yet the US govt continues to give the Pakistani govt billions of dollars.The Russians have allowed the use of their airspace but on the condition that they ‘Russians’ have the right to
inspect the cargo aboard the aircraft.This so-called war is being waged for other reasons,one of them is the military industrial complex another reason is the fact that it is a live fire training ground for the various
armies involved ,it is interesting to note that Sweden and Finland have troops in Afghanistan and Columbia ,of all countries is planning to send troops there.Finally the Iranian question and the oil and natural gas
in the Stans to the north is a reason ,but it would be dangerous for Nato to venture there,because the Russians and the Chinese have their own agenda.Yet there exists another reason which is seldom mentioned and that is the evolution of the Armed Forces,This is going to be a long war and it’s got nothing to do with
winning it’s a business a really enormous business venture.

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By Rontruth, August 21, 2009 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

A long time ago, there was a US president, not speaking of Kennedy here, but one who wrote in his diaries, those of Woodrow Wilson.

He wrote of the “United States Government run by a highly united, intermational power, so intriguing and of common purpose that it is scarcely identifiable, yet it’s influence so pervasive that what is said about democracy and the will of the people is ever more difficult, in practice at least, to accurately define.

He was here speaking of the Illuminati. They are committed to confusion, mass hysteria, and ultimately to ruling the world. He said that their power seems centered on international bankers.

That was close to 100 years ago. I wonder if he knew what he was talking about, given what we have just been through, and what we are still going through.

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By DE Teodoru, August 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How could Diem assassination be so misunderstood? The 1962 Geneva Accord on Laos gave the HoChiMinh Trail to Hanoi as US abandoned Mung fighters. Diem had no way of knowing that JFK, need be, would pressure the Soviets on Cuba in retaliation. But Diem realized that after Geneva China offered Hanoi full supply for an army to invade South Vietnam. Brother Nhu then sought to replace his brother and work out an “entre nous vietnamiens” accord with Hanoi. JFK feared that Hanoi would break any deal and he would look bad for the 1964 election. By his orders CIA encouraged the Buddhists to rebel, though Buddhists infiltrated by VC. The generals used to do the coup never again trusted their benefactor, US. Instead, they turned to France to negotiate neutrality and with Hanoi, for US out. To prove commitment, we bombed North. But we bombed triple canopy jungle instead of Haiphong Harbor, port of entry of Soviet supplies or the only two mountain roads from China, fearing expanding war. How could Viets have faith in us, given that ARVN was not fighting VC but PAVN regulars from North, better armed than ARVN? Finally in 1964, using solid intel, Rostow proved to LBJ that it is a new war: North against South, VC beside the point. TO AVOID CONCEQUENCE OF DEFEAT TO US PRESTIGE, LBJ SENT IN US TROOPS. To protect our troops we butchered “our” Viets. The more troops we sent the more Viets we butchered protecting our troops. All this is because we could not hit Haiphong, the start of supply line to Hanoi, we feared Sino-Soviet reaction. It was damned if you do, damned if you don’t. When the Sha of Iran in 1974 informed Nixon that he had to raise oil prices, CIA went to remove him by supporting Khomeini thinking, as with Buddhists, US could better control clergy than nationalist leader. It blew up in our faces. After Soviets lost Afghan War, we did nothing more for Afghans. Arab alQaeda supported Taliban with brains, men and cash. We paid no attention, focusing instead on oil rich Mideast; 9/11 was an Arab response to our support of bad rulers in Mideast: hit the “far” enemy, US, so he can’t support “near” one, Arab regimes. Bush offered Iran a deal: we put Shia in power after removing Saddam and get oil cheap and Iran stop a-bomb project, we give Iran diplomatic ties. But Likudnik Israeli Gov’s agents, the neocons, screwed up the deal. As a result, Iran supported Shia insurgents and Saudis/Kuwaitis supported Sunnis. We were caught in the middle of a war with no end. Afghanistan was abandoned to Taliban as we went after alQaeda chiefs in Pakistan. Arabs went back to Mideast. Taliban now is totally AfgPak. The Karzai Gov sells more heroine than Taliban. We created another corrupt monster to permit us our war. Obama, like LBJ, does not want to be the one to lose it. Bur McChrystal has no strategy, so again we have lots of killers massacring people for no strategic reason other than not wanting to lose. McChrystal doesn’t want to be blamed. He got 20,000 troops and immediately asked for 12,000, knowing he won’t get them. Just as Bush stayed in Afghan/Iraq so he’s not blamed for on his watch, passing it to his successor to be blamed, Obama is now stuck, blackmailed by Pentagon careerists. There’s nothing there for us to win. The Sino-Russian led Shanghai Accord can take over; they too can’t afford Taliban victory. Afghans won’t forgive our mass killing, nor will Iraqis. How long does a patient, lucky to survive your incompetent care, as you blindly try again and again on grounds that you have a right to put his life at risk in order to salvage your reputation? Get out, offering $, not bullets to feed the hate for America losing blood of our troops. Our command stinks and doesn’t deserve another chance at the expense of Afghans and Iraqis. We sacrificed enough heroes to the incompetence of our commanders. It is time to fix the Pentagon, not Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s too late for that, we had our chance and blew it!

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By Mary Ann McNeely, August 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

Obama promised he now would “refocus” our efforts to “win” in Afghanistan.

What a contemptible fool!

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By oldog, August 21, 2009 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

Yes but…we’re winning in Afghanistan…ha ha

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By Rontruth, August 21, 2009 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

In “Deja Vu”, Kutler is partially correct, and partially wrong.

When the Americans officially left South Vietnam in the 1970s in stages, when the last helocopter lifted off the top of the US Embassy in Saigon, the Vietcong had already entered Saigon, and were enroute to the Embassy. The Americans knew that the US had LOST. They did not assume that the South Vietnamese forces were in control. Our Generals knew that that we had lost. Our forces simply escaped.

After nearly 60,000 US dead, 350,000 wounded, more than 1.5 million innocent Vietnamese civilians blown to bits or murdered because they were thought to possibly be siding with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regular soldiers/invaders, we now try to repaint history. The golden triangle drug trade largely ended when the communists took over.

Today, a moderately left of center radio station, Air America Radio, is the only remaining namesake of the CIA airline that once facilitated the drug traffic out of southeast Asia.

Kennedy realized what was really going on, and dropped support for his Catholic counterpart, President Diem when he discovered that Diem was cooperating with the CIA drug trade to raise funds for CIA-led secret operations in South Vietnam that could not be paid for with US taxpayers’ money. The drug trade provided the cash needed for those operations.

Kennedy pulled the CIA’s teeth when he issued National Security Action Memo #263, ordering the withdrawal of all US forces from Vietnam by the end of 1965.

He swore to “tear the CIA into a thousand pieces and throw the pieces to the winds.” (top JFK aide, Ted Sorenson). They used the mafia and CIA anti-Castro Cuban exile assets and mob hitters from Chicago to do the dirty deed in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 22, 1963, so the CIA and Pentagon could have their planned 10 year war in Vietnam, and maybe even get back Cuba for it’s one-time mob owners of the casinos, prostitution and drug trade, while the Vietnam war went on for 10 years.

Once Kennedy was out of the way, they would, and did have their ten year war, ended by the man who had sent Allen Dulles and his CIA to “set up a scenario whereby, once the French left, it would require US military action to prevent a communist takeover in South Vietnam. (US Army Colonel Fletcher Prouty, assistant chief of Pentagon covert operations)

It is, in simple words, “follow the money.”

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By H2iFK, August 21, 2009 at 9:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All these years of bloodshed in this worthless war,
Nothing has changed, All this Hearts and Mind B..
S… all over again. I Should say, Viet Nam all over
again! What lesson learned? Didn’t work then, Won’t
work now. I thought you were to learn from your past
mistakes The Taliban is still invoking their power
making their presents known every day killing our
young servicemen and women. Reminding the Afghans
who’s really in charge daily. You just can’t win
their “Hearts and Minds"with bombs and missiles
targeted at the civilian population, No wonder they
hate us and want us out of there. Very poor
intelligence, language problems, culture stupidity,
not knowing who the enemy really is unless guns are
pointed at you, by then it’s too late. All were doing
is leaving our next generation with widows, orphans,
Vets with disabilities in a VA system so bogged down
with red tape that they will have to go back to war
just to receive what they so painfully earned. A deficit so far in the red because of this war which
could be better served being spent on health care for
our returning Vets a price tag we haven’t even begin
to estimate its cost. It’s time to get out now and
come home. The British admitted defeat, the Russians
found it a no win situation, now were there, why is
it that we can’t learn from our previous mistakes or
the mistakes of others or our we just that arrogant.

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By skateboardkid, August 21, 2009 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Once witnessed a panel of war reporters. It was amazing. The message that
they all agreed on was this. The war reporter goes to the front lines risking
their lives to take pictures of the true form of war. Pictures of stuff that would
make you sick at your stomach for years to come. When the pictures make it to
the people who support war, they simply dismiss them like turning your head
while passing by a homeless person while in your car. Their comment was this.
Why take the pictures when no body cares. And they were all amazed of just
how little people care. Instead, these war supporters talk about war details like
it is a board game.

It is time to get real folks. Things are not going to get better until you realize
that your future requires your involvement. Going to work, paying your bills is
short term. Pretty soon, your bank accounts will be dry. So why not take the
time out now, and protest. All you got to do is fix just one branch of
government. I would start with the judicial branch.

Get Involved, or you will be forced to take what they hand out. Take back the
air waves, you own them.

The other thing they all agreed on. When a soldier gets hurt, he cries for his
mom. Goes to show you that you war guys are not so tuff; it also shows you
that mankind was not designed to see, or participate in such horrific events.

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By abutaza, August 21, 2009 at 9:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Overall, a good article that states the obvious to so many of us, but certainly it IS news to much of our “politcal elite.”

And it was 1979 when the Chinese-Vietnamese war occurred.

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By Can O Whoopass, August 21, 2009 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We won.  Let’s go home.

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By Leefeller, August 21, 2009 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

A natural state of man? What does this mean?  Who decided this to be? All man is the same, so it is natural?

Could it possibly be some man or people would prefer to live in peace, so it may be natural for them, but those who find this a sense of weakness go to war it is natural for them. This may mean opportunism is natural

Suggesting war is a natural sate of man, seems to support a human pecking order as in the animal kingdom. Even more so looking at predator behavior of carnivores versus herbivores. So man is same as an animal? What of the herbivores, who do not kill but have a pecking order?

So again, what is natural?

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By DanMorgan06, August 21, 2009 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Dear ChaoticGood,

Please describe how a constant explains change.

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By loneagle, August 21, 2009 at 7:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Peace is boring, unless your are stoned.”

There’s a decent argument right there.

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By Leefeller, August 21, 2009 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

A saying I have heard, “War only ends for the dead”. or something similar to this? 

Must say Obama made hawk comments during the campaign and I fouhd it disappointing then, though Obama does seems a hawk of a different feather, then Bush the Vietnam evader.  Anyway this time they are all volunteers in the military, even the National Guard so they are protecting Democracy.

In the alleged news, I heard the real wealthy are not as wealthy because of the economic down turn, does this include the military complex elite?

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By Blackspeare, August 21, 2009 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

The only lesson learned is that there is no substitute for victory.

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By thebeerdoctor, August 21, 2009 at 4:00 am Link to this comment

Just get out.

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By bogi666, August 21, 2009 at 2:44 am Link to this comment

BlueEagle, it seems that we are in Afghanistan for the sake of war, the Pentagon. It provides promotions for the officer corp who will sacrifice American troops to get promoted, not to mention a Taliban “body” count to enhance their resume.On the topic of the Afghanistan Taliban and the 9/11 hijackers, none were Afghan or Taliban lest we forget as the politicians and generals have, conveniently. 15 Saudi’s, 2 Egyptians, 2 Paki’s.

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By ChaoticGood, August 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

Dear Dan,

What makes you think humans cooperate and live in harmony. With no less than 40 wars raging on this planet at any one time, what harmony are you talking about.  Our military/industrial complex is getting filthy rich from all the human cooperation and harmony.

What planet did you say you are from, not Earth for sure.

You mention that wars and indoctrination campaigns
What indoctrination campaigns?  Wars don’t need no “stinkin” indoctrinations…

All you have to do is create an enemy, tell people that the enemy attacked you and then cry “WAR” and most everyone will say “Kill the Enemy”.  No indoctrination needed.

For example, none was needed for Iraq, just tell people that Saddam will kill us with “Nucular Weapons” and he had something to do with 911 and off we go to war we go.  It was very simple to do and most Americans supported it.  So what indoctrination are you talking about?

Humans love War, the Glory, the Sacrifice, the Honor, the Parades and the Medals, even the folded flags and all the little white crosses.  Peace is boring, unless your are stoned. 

I assert again that War is the natural state of Man.

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By DanMorgan06, August 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

“War is the natural state of man, not peace.”

Wrong. If war is human nature then how do you explain when humans cooperate and live in harmony? How do you explain massive indoctrination campaigns to compel people to support war? Put simply, a constant cannot explain change.

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By Amon Drool, August 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

blue eagle…barackstar is following slick willie’s advice:  it’s better to be wrong and look strong than to be right and look weak.  and, this advice is easy to follow, especially when barackstar’s own ass ain’t on the line in afghanistan.

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By BlueEagle, August 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

Aaahh… Afghanistan the graveyard for Empires.

Can someone please remind me who are the troops are fighting over there and why?

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By danielet, August 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

General at the White House warned me that if I want Afghan dialogue I better never again bring up “that loser’s war,” Vietnam. The VC followed Maoist dictum: guerrillas are FISH swimming in ocean of peasants. South Vietnam urbanized from 85% rural in 1963 to 75% urban by 1967, leaving the fish high and dry with no peasant sea; thus Hanoi’s desperate Tet Offensive. We didn’t lose in Vietnam. Nixon made a deal with China: it blocks Hanoi’s move west into SE Asia and US prevents Soviet invasion of China’s North. After 9/11 the Bush used Afghanistan as bait-and-switch. Congress had funded fully funded it. But the Afghan War was cannibalized to feed the Iraq War, presenting Congress with a fait accompli—you can’t refuse to fund it, our troops are already fighting in the field. We went in intelligence blind, language deaf and culture dumb. There was no massive army with the best Soviet arms fighting from safebases next door as with Vietnam. It was just a few Taliban. But we used airpower to kill flies, accepting massive civilian casualties believing: only dead Muslim is good Muslim. The West Point class of 1976 Iraq screw-ups, “Surge” and all, are now forcing Obama into ever more troop escalations to hide their Afghan screw-up, fought as incompetently as Iraq, again killing people out of fear because we are intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb. Pentagon careers for the star-whores require big bangs but at low US casualties. Fearing losses they hit at anything that moves the way we did in Iraq, and can’t realize why people hate us! We are not driving Afghans to a modern urban state, instead killing them on the spot. Our COIN “experts” are making it up as they go. The top lies down to the lower ranks who confirm the lie back up to the top. Everyone is drunk on Pentagon Kool-aid again. Obama is trying to make manure into gold out of. The same command that made such a mess of Iraq—having learned nothing about our “better war” that urbanized South Vietnam and enabled local forces to hold off Hanoi’s professional forces—won’t see that they can’t win hearts and minds militarily. The VC was broken when South Vietnam developed local police force. Tet destroyed VC, Revolutionary Development Cadres secured the countryside building village militias. Saigon lost to a foreign army not to a VC guerrillas like the Taliban. But there is no outside army to invade Afghanistan. Moreover, none of its neighbors would accept a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan/Pakistan. China would never let Pakistan fall. Russia/India/Iran and the Central Asian -stans would never let Afghanistan fall. There is a regional SHANGHAI COOPERATIVE ACCORD including all these nations and more that can take care of regional defeat of Taliban. We don’t have to do it. We could just leave, letting them do it as China did Hanoi’s army. Instead of an Afghan army that never existed we should develop a police force to deal with the Taliban rather than blow up villages with drones. We should have taken Afghan and their families to US to train as policemen, returning to bring order but leaving their families here, safe for a few years while they clean out the Taliban. Instead we sent in 1976 West Point class of bulls-in-a-china-shop desperate for a career-making war—a lot of action with low US casualties—meaning indirect fire with lots of Afghan casualties from bombers, drones and missiles fired from at sea as requested by our forces every time a gun goes off in order to avoid US casualties. Indeed, we should not suffer US casualties, but we shouldn’t cause so many Afghan ones either; we should just get out and stop turning the families of our brave soldiers into orphans and widows. As was the case in Iraq, they are not trained to do police work—they don’t arrest, they blow up, often more in anger than in reason. The White House general proved to be the loser—both in Iraq and Afghan wars, learning nothing from Vietnam.

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By ChaoticGood, August 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Another “demonstration” war, where we take hill A12 then give it up again so we can take it again and again. 

We never “learn” because we mistake the lesson.  We mistakenly believe that our leaders want peace and that war is an aberration that must be avoided. 

Peace is the aberration, not war.

War is the natural state of man, not peace.

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By DE Teodoru, August 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A general at White House warned me that if I want War on Terror dialogue never again bring up “that loser’s war,” Vietnam. The VC followed the Maoist dictum: guerrillas are FISH swimming in ocean of peasants. Over war years South Vietnam urbanized from 85% rural in 1963 to 75% urban by 1967, leaving the fish high and dry with no peasant sea. That’s why Hanoi’s desperate Tet Offensive in 1968. We didn’t lose in Vietnam. Nixon made a deal with China: it blocks Hanoi’s move west into SE Asia and US prevents Soviet invasion of China’s North. After 9/11 the Bush used Afghanistan as bait-and-switch. Congress had funded fully funded it. But the Afghan War was cannibalized to feed the Iraq War, presenting Congress with a fait accompli—you can’t refuse to fund it, our troops are already fighting in the field. We went in intelligence blind, language deaf and culture dumb. There was no massive army with the best Soviet arms fighting from safebases next door as with Vietnam. It was just a few Taliban. But we used airpower to kill flies, accepting massive civilian casualties believing: only dead Muslim is good Muslim. The West Point class of 1976 Iraq screw-ups, “Surge” and all, are now forcing Obama into ever more troop escalations to hide their Afghan screw-up, fought as incompetently as Iraq, again killing people out of fear because we are intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb. Pentagon careers for the star-whores require big bangs but at low US casualties. Fearing losses they hit at anything that moves the way we did in Iraq, and can’t realize why people hate us! We are not driving Afghans to a modern urban state, instead killing them on the spot. Our COIN “experts” are making it up as they go. The top lies down to the lower ranks who confirm the lie back up to the top. Everyone is drunk on Pentagon Kool-aid again. Obama is trying to make manure into gold out of. The same command that made such a mess of Iraq—having learned nothing about our “better war” that urbanized South Vietnam and enabled local forces to hold off Hanoi’s professional forces—won’t see that they can’t win hearts and minds militarily. The VC was broken when South Vietnam developed local police force. Tet destroyed VC, Revolutionary Development Cadres secured the countryside building village militias. Saigon lost to a foreign army not to a VC guerrillas like the Taliban. But there is no outside army to invade Afghanistan. Moreover, none of its neighbors would accept a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan/Pakistan. China would never let Pakistan fall. Russia/India/Iran and the Central Asian -stans would never let Afghanistan fall. There is a regional SHANGHAI COOPERATIVE ACCORD including all these nations and more that can take care of regional defeat of Taliban. We don’t have to do it. We could just leave, letting them do it as China did Hanoi’s army. Instead of an Afghan army that never existed we should develop a police force to deal with the Taliban rather than blow up villages with drones. We should have taken Afghan and their families to US to train as policemen, returning to bring order but leaving their families here, safe for a few years while they clean out the Taliban. Instead we sent in 1976 West Point class of bulls-in-a-china-shop desperate for a career-making war—a lot of action with low US casualties—meaning indirect fire with lots of Afghan casualties from bombers, drones and missiles fired from at sea as requested by our forces every time a gun goes off in order to avoid US casualties. Indeed, we should not suffer US casualties, but we shouldn’t cause so many Afghan ones either; we should just get out and stop turning the families of our brave soldiers into orphans and widows. As was the case in Iraq, they are not trained to do police work—they don’t arrest, they blow up, often more in anger than in reason. The White House general proved to be the loser—both in Iraq and Afghan wars, learning nothing from Vietnam.

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By marc medler, August 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thank this Historian for his article and willingness to speak truth to power. I have often pondered why American executives need a war, oversee war, fan war, rationalize war and stare down reason to continue a failed policy of war. My present thoughts are that American Emperors are incapable (culture) of articulating the obvious fact that they head an Empire. One that is glued together by the threat of force, authoritarian power and violent extortion. American and England are the first Empires that are uncomfortable with accurate descriptions of themselves and what they do. The Chinese head of Empire was fine with Emperor as too the Roman,Athenian and Turkish overlords. Was Victoria addressed, Her Imperial Majesty by the English press and people?(Her Britannic Majesty) I suggest that to an Imperial sensibility winning or losing a war is incidental to the exercise of them. Once our executive is mounted upon his mighty war horse, air force one, a clear transformation takes place. Yet that transformed dare not articulate accurately the reality, so the world is littered with collateral damage(victims=collaterals). My American adult life has been befuddled by this inaccurate cultural acceptance and semantic denial of the obvious. The roots of this executive disease are deep- eg. our first executive was a general a war leader!

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By Belisarius6, August 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment
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The apologist nature of this article (“that we are at war in a foreign land isn’t wrong - it is that we are not correctly applying the lessons of history in the fight”) shows the concept of American Empire still hasn’t been fully rejected by all Americans even when arguing against war. Take for example the author’s statement “As if to prove the point, the Chinese launched war against the victorious Vietnamese in 1975, only to suffer an embarrassing defeat. Beyond the fact that the Sino-Vietnamese War was in 1979 rather than 1975 the loser in that war has yet to be made official - both sides lay claim to victory. While there are some who believe Vietnam was the victor because it remained in Cambodia for another ten years there are others who believe China’s real intent was to show Vietnam it’s mutual defense treaty with the Soviet Union wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Certainly from that date to present day China has been the undisputed regional power in Southeast Asia. Surely this is a cautionary tale about making commitments in far flung lands for expansionist militarists everywhere rather than the biased bogey-man explanation (“not our fault - even a massively superior force can still lose if not applied properly”) actually presented.

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By LostHills, August 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

The only lesson they learned from Vietnam is how much money can be made from a long drawn out overseas war.

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