Thursday, July 07, 2005

Learning the Lessons of Vietnam -- Again

It's too bad the chickenhawks-in-chief managed to weasel out of service in Vietnam (and let others die in their place). If they hadn't, then maybe they'd have a little different perspective on the way things are shaping up -- or down -- in the desert.

The parallels are as plentiful as they are pathetic: The lies, the needless deaths, the very unwinnable nature of the whole thing. The way the president is pumping to "stay the course", the way the vice-president claims, in opposition to everything we see and hear, that the insurgency is in its last throes.

I really do expect to hear any day now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The famous North Vietnamese general, Vo Nguyen Giap, said nearly 60 years ago when the Vietnamese were fighting their French overlords for control of their own country, "The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The blitzkreig will transform itself into a war of long duration. Thus the enemy will be caught in a dilemma: He has to drag out the war in order to win it and does not possess, on the other hand, the psychological and political means to fight a long drawn-out war."

His words were as true for the Americans in Vietnam as they were for the French -- and still as true for the Americans who have invaded Iraq.

Colin Powell, before he sacrificed his dignity and reputation and credibility, was the author of the Powell Doctrine: Go into a war only when your goals are clear, your force is overpowering, and you have a clear exit strategy -- and get out when you have achieved your goal.

It's no wonder Powell is long gone from the Bush cabinet. The surprise is that he stayed as long as he did.