Friday, August 18, 2006

Is it 1973 yet?

So long as President/media portray a withdrawal from Iraq as a defeat; and proponents of a withdrawal as "defeatists"; and the "cause" of going to Iraq as noble and sound; equate "supporting the troops" with not withdrawing from Iraq; and refuse to define what "victory" means and how we will able to recognize this "victory" when and if it happens, it is thoroughly predictable that a large # of Americans will continue to equate withdrawal as defeat and anything but withdrawal as somehow staying on the road to "victory."

This is how the US people were convinced to tolerate and support the Vietnam War for so long. Nixon cynically played both sides of the coin (ya think?) by campaigning in 1968 and 1972 for a continued and escalated war as the best plan to end the war.

Not surprisingly, the Cheney wing are now saying the best way to end the Iraq war is to bring it into other countries near Iraq, or if that fails, the whole Middle East. The only way to mop up one spot of dirt on the floor is to mop up the whole floor ... or well ... just rip up the whole floor and put in a brand new one.

Mission creep was coined in Vietnam and is now the only viable strategy for Team Bush in the Middle East. Three card Monte is another name for the same game.

Team Bush seems to have forgotten that "enemies" only surrender if they believe they have absolutely no other option. In Vietnam, the Viet Cong took strategic refuge in Laos and Cambodia. So the US bombed the hell out of Laos and Cambodia. Like Hezbollah, the Viet Cong took strategic refuge in civilian villages. So we wasted civilian villages (and coined the phrase collateral damage to de-humanize the carnage).

Escalation in Vietnam only ended when it became apparent even to the Defense Dept. that escalation meant radically expanding the Vietnam War into Laos and Cambodia, which would require an enormous increase in US troops and fighting an increasingly dispersed enemy who had many years to study and adapt to US tactics, weapons and had learned the way to win was to keep the US bogged down in thousands of small scale "flushing out" operations in which the Viet Cong would have a small, but decisive advantage. The Viet Cong knew that if they could reduce the US troops to fighting with small arms and in small numbers, the military asymmetry of US techology and air power would become radically diluted.

The Viet Cong were prepared to fight a "long war" and gambled the US was not and could not. This lesson is now being applied in the Middle East, notwithstanding Rumsfeld's statement the US is committed to a "long war." Just last week, Israel decided against the long war option in southern Lebanon.

Iraqi combatants know that the US public will not tolerate high numbers of US casualties, and this has forced the Marines into a position of keeping their personnel behind secure positions. But this defensive posture also prevents the Marines from doing much. And because the US has a goal of winning "hearts and minds" in Iraq, the US cannot use its air power, armor etc. to create enough military asymmetry to convince Iraqi combatants that resistance is futile and they must surrender.

A propaganda video by Hezbollah on Al Jazeera states plainly that Hezbollah carefully studied the Vietnam War to devise their recent strategy. Has the US done the same?

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