March 31, 2007
Vietnam and Iraq
Ben Voth today makes some excellent points about the parallels between the current political situation and that of the Vietnam War over thirty years ago.
But as I spelled out two years ago in 'Why Vietnam Was Lost" in these pages (AT: 5/5/05) the parallels were inevitable; the importance of national unity and the swift and ruthless execution of our military plans was always the key to success in Iraq. (And anywhere)
From December 1941 to May of 1945 is a span of only forty-one months. In that short period of time we progressed from Pearl Harbor to the rubble-surrounded bunker in Berlin, from America First to the United Nations, from prop planes to nuclear weaponry.
Americans by the nature of our political system, our economic system, and most recently and perhaps most importantly by our technological advances, are an increasingly impatient people who are swift to righteous action but loathe to suffer in the long haul.
Bush and company should have known this from all that history teaches. They, and we, are paying the penalty of ignoring the lessons of Vietnam. They are:
Never again commence an undeclared (by Congress) war.
Never again commence any war without clearly defined and achievable objectives. (Did we win yet?)
And never, never commence a war and sacrifice American blood and treasure unless we are willing to use all our resources in an all out effort to win.
The truth Mr. Voth's piece examines, once again, is that if we ignore the past, through hubris or ignorance, we will inevitably repeat avoidable mistakes.