Sunday, October 18, 2009

Losing Two More “Vietnam” Wars

We lost the Vietnam War because our military leaders didn’t understand the dynamics of the situation. American escalation continued until more than five hundred thousand combat troops were committed to the tiny country. We could have doubled the size of our military in Vietnam and the outcome would have been the same.

George W. Bush committed America to two more “Vietnam” style wars, and we are going to lose both of them for the same reasons we lost the Vietnam War. No foreign military has ever defeated a committed insurgency (no matter how large their military commitment). We should have learned this lesson from the many historical examples that are available. The vast British military has been fought to a standstill in Northern Ireland for nearly five hundred years. The undefeated might of three of Napoleons invincible armies were fought to defeat by the Spanish insurgents, which allowed Wellington’s tiny army to operate in Portugal and Spain.

In Iraq we managed to destabilize all levels of government, install a national government that virtually nobody supports, and set the stage for civil war. As soon as American troops are removed from Iraq the country will erupt into a civil war that will eventually determine the next government of Iraq. We should extract our troops from Iraq immediately because the only thing they are doing is delaying the inevitable civil war. The opposing forces grow in strength and sophistication with each passing week that our military delays the beginning of the struggle for the control of the country. We can’t stop the inevitable civil war, but we could reduce the devastating effects of the war by allowing it to begin now,

For many years the Bush administration claimed a victory in Afghanistan, which was the basis of their argument that we would win the war in Iraq. During those years I told everyone that we had not won the war in Afghanistan and that the war had not yet begun. Now the war in Afghanistan has begun in ernest, and we are going to lose it as surely as we lost the Vietnam War. The “inside” military appraisal is that six hundred thousand combat troops will be needed to win the war in Afghanistan. We will lose the war in Afghanistan even if we commit six hundred thousand American combat troops.

The lessons of history are difficult to learn. Military experts may understand “military tactics”, but they seem to be clueless about how ineffective foreign military forces are against a committed insurgency. Even our humble beginnings sprang from an insurgency that defeated the most powerful military in the world.

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