Monday, May 12, 2008

The Ghosts of Vietnam

Some reading for today. "Burying the Ghosts of Vietnam" at the Small Wars Journal. Did the US 'fail to learn' the lessons of Vietnam? And is it the case that the US military has a propensity to forget everything it learns about counterinsurgency warfare and atavistically return to the "big battalion" mindset?

Only thrice in its history did the US Armed Forces fight big conventional wars. World War 1, 2 and possibly Desert Storm. Even Desert Storm wasn't really in the mold of the Second World War. For much of its military history, as the Combat Studies Institute Page should illustrate, America has fought small wars. The Indian Wars, the Philippine Insurgency, the Huks, Vietnam. What does the Marine Corps celebrate? "From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli". There's a case to be made that the US Armed Forces did mostly small wars before World War 2. And that was 60 years ago. Since then there have been nothing but small wars.

It seems to me that any discussion about the Ghosts of Vietnam has to discuss why Vietnam seemed so strange when in reality, it should been so familiar. And I think the answer, in part, lies in the Cold War. The idea of limited warfare created by the shadow of the Bomb was the real reason that Vietnam was "different". In bald terms, the situation in Indochina was a largely conventional conflict between the NVA and the US and Allies, albeit with a large irregular component. Why was it so "different"? Vietnam was different because of a conscious decision to forget everything that was known about fighting wars of this type and to prosecute it according to a novel strategic conception that by some strange alchemy became time-honored when brand-new.

If the Ghosts of Vietnam haunts US politics today we may look for their spectral homes not in the battlefield, but in objects closer to home.




The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.

34 Comments:

Blogger Barzai said...

"Only thrice in its history did the US Armed Forces fight big conventional wars. World War 1, 2 and possibly Desert Storm."

Um. Korea? I think it's safe to say that fell into the "big conventional war" category.

And "Korea" is, in fact, the answer to your larger point: the U.S. spent *forty years*--from Korea to the fall of the USSR--getting ready for "The Big One".

Indeed, part of the objection to fighting Vietnam the "small wars way" was that it would get in the way of maintaining effectiveness for "Der Tag"--when the Sovs would come streaming through the Fulda gap, big, heavy tanks in front.

The fact that we never had to fight The Big One is not, in my estimation, a reason to suppose that being prepared to do so was nugatory.

5/12/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I was about to write Korea and then stopped. Korea was the first of the limited wars. Douglas McArthur wondered why the options that were open to fighting Japan were no longer available to fighting North Korea and China. "There is no substitute for victory" was how he put it.

But the conventional wisdom was that there was a substitute for victory and that was containment. Even the conception of fighting the Soviets in Europe was framed in the context of bomb. There was always the assumption that somewhere along the line a conventional conflict in Europe would escalate and the point of strategy was that controlling escalation was preferable to any victory in the McArthurian sense.

Desert Storm was the first conflict of the post-Cold War age. It was the first since World War 2 to essentially have been fought outside the shadow of the bomb.

Vietnam was fought in the shadow of Korea, which in turn was conducted in the penumbra of Hiroshima.

5/12/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Korea was certainly not a “Large Conventional War” – by WWII standards it hardly would have qualified as a separate theater.

But Korea was noteworthy in that it was the first war fought under truly major political constraints. In WWII political constraints consisted mainly of which theater to favor first and how to satisfy the needs and demands of our allies. Our political leadership gave no indication of giving a rat’s rump about what our enemies wanted. If Eisenhower had said “I’m sorry Mr. President, but the only way to win this war is to kill every last German in Europe.” I have little doubt that FDR would have replied “Sad. Too bad, really. And how fast can you have than done, Ike?”

But in Korea, and to a far greater extent in Vietnam, our politicians worried more about our enemies than they did the safety of our own troops and the requirements of victory. Can’t let those B-29’s overfly Red China, to hit those bridges over the Yalu, no way! Can’t bomb those Mig airfields in Red China, either. Or unload a nuke on all those Chinese troops. Or let our airplanes fly within 20 miles of the Chinese-Vietnamese border, or bomb those Soviet freighters in Haipong harbor, etc, etc, etc.

When the Japanese replied to his demands for unconditional surrender in a manner that said “You are the boss, and I know I am going to have to do what you say, but I don’t like it.” Truman let them have a nuke. Contrast this with LBJ’s famous boast “The Air Force can’t bomb an outhouse without my specific approval.”

5/12/2008 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

"Why did we learn nothing from Vietnam"

Part of the reason - a minor part, perhaps - is that the men who led the effort on the ground in Vietnam were on the front lines in Korea.

In David Hackworth's excellent biography he relates that the colonels and generals in Korea built massive, well appointed support bases behind the rear lines in Korea. His example was a movie theater built from thousands of sand bags. Sand bags that he, a company commander, didn't have ten miles away, at the front.

His point was that Captains and Lieutenants looked at the support bases and thought 'some day, that's what I want'. Ten years later, when they were colonels and Generals in Vietnam, that's what they built.

Or at least that was his explanation for why support bases from Korea - which may have been appropriate for a static general war - were transplanted lock, stock mindset and sandbags - to a guerilla war, where they were completely out of place.

5/12/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Only thrice in its history did the US Armed Forces fight big conventional wars."

The U.S. Civil War must count as a big war.

Probably the Mexican War of 1846 should also count as a big war.

5/12/2008 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Palmer said...

While I agree with the general conclusion that our military should be equally oriented to counter insurgency and conventional war, there are several big questions here.

1) One of the lessons of Vietnam is that we did not lose that war, Congress did. When the Communists made the largest attack of the war in 1972 we didn’t have any combat unit there. Using our air support and materiel support the Vietnamese gave the Communists their greatest defeat of the war and proved they could defend their country. When Congress cut off military aid, it proved that no matter how tough you are, you can’t win with only six bullets in your rifle.

2) The reason we had so many killed is that the Communists were will to accept so many of their own loses. They had something like 900,000 killed and 300,000 missing. We had 58,000 killed and ARVN had 275,000 killed. I’m sure we could have fought the war better but I can’t see anything we could have done that would have cut our loses in half given how many the Communists were willing to lose.

3) All insurgencies begin with at least some support in the population. A counter insurgency works when the population is on your side. I doubt that clear and hold, defending the population, works very well when the population thinks of you as the enemy. This suggests that using a counter insurgency from the begining in either Vietnam or Iraq probably wouldn’t have been as successful as they were later under Abrams in Vietnam and Paetraus in Iraq.

5/12/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger elfman2 said...

RWE said: "But Korea was noteworthy in that it was the first war fought under truly major political constraints. "

After the bomb, all wars are fought under political constraints.

If Korea doesn't qualify as a conventional war because we didn't attack China, The Gulf War doesn't quality because we didn't take out Saddam's army and annex the southern oil fields.

As long as multiple nations can end human life as we know it, all wars will have political restrictions.

5/12/2008 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

all wars will have political restrictions

And therefore the "ghosts of Vietnam" have their roots not in some obtuseness in professional military men but in politics. Writing counterinsurgency manuals, etc is all very well. But if the assertion is that the military atavistically returns to a certain mindset it's because the politics drives it.

The haunting comes from Washington, or perhaps, the general political atmosphere. Now why, in a largely post-Cold war world, does Vietnam still matter? It no longer, it seems to me, springs from the fear of an uncontrollable nuclear escalation. The political restrictions stem from something else. I'm not quite sure what. But it would be interesting to identify them explicitly.

Once you know what the ghost is, you can deal with it.

5/12/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Armies geared to guerilla seem to be able to adapt to conventional
warfare compartively easy. Their requirement is how to add muscle in short order.

The "conventional" force on the other hand has no end of trouble in adapting to the guerilla. They cannot figure out what equipment, command slots and so forth and so on do nothing but get in the way.

Pershing stands as a leading example of guerilla to conventional,
Westmoreland as the less successful opposite number.

5/12/2008 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard, it comes from too much wealth, social isolation, "gentry" mentality -- the sort of thing that led the British to disdain careers in science and engineering because it was to "common" along with business/commerce. You can see that in Eleanor Clift's remark that Democrats do not need white working/middle class voters because all whites will do professional work, with blue collar labor restricted to immigrants. It's an amazing confession of attitude.

However, the likelihood of nations possessing enough power (nuclear) to kill some American cities but not all argues for unrestricted warfare. Including or especially nuclear first strikes.

The Cold War rested on mutually assured destruction, and the idea that no first strike could wipe out the enemy's ability to retaliate in kind. With "limits" put that wiping out the enemy or even waging unrestricted war (here comes another part of that attitude) was inherently "evil" and part of the "evil" of Western man.

Now, consider Iran. Which might or might not fairly quickly have the ability to wipe out several US cities but certainly not all. Which would have around perhaps 100 nukes. With the ability to perhaps with ICBMs and some sort of missile defense plus Hezbollah have the ability to kill, let us say, 20 American cities.

In such a case, the US's policy would inevitably be guided BY A FIRST STRIKE. Because that's where the logic leads. Iran would lack a second strike, retaliatory ability. You've delineated the risks of terrorist proxies having nukes on US soil (Command and Control, risks of being discovered before it goes off). Once Iran has nukes, unless it can match the US with a Triad of Nuclear delivery (ICBMS, Bomber-launched cruise missiles, nuclear subs) then they make themselves sitting ducks.

This leaves aside the issue of Israel or perhaps other nuclear powers threatened by Iran.

Very likely, the US would do nothing, hobbled by a very socially constricted, uber-snobby elite (as snobby as in Jane Austen's day, perhaps more). Until we lost cities, and the logic of the situation would drive home devastation on whatever enemy it might be (Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, some other power that lacks the Triad).

5/12/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger elfman2 said...

Wretchard said: "But if the assertion is that the military atavistically returns to a certain mindset it's because the politics drives it."

Maybe the military keeps returning to classic warfare tactics because of the division of labor. Nation building isn’t the military's job, and managing a counterinsurgency’s not that of State, but both are in the thick of it now. Both will probably withdrawal into their comfort zones after this war. Then they'll fight the next in the roles they know best.

Despite the end of the cold war, are nuclear concerns really not behind the increased role of politics of war? There must be a dozen good reasons to refrain from bombing terrorist states at will, but one is that many are clients of nuclear powers. Another is that whatever population would remain could still produce effective bio weapons. This probably isn’t the “ghost of Vietnam” unveiled, but it seems like a good reason for integrating politics in battle.

5/12/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

What is the ghost? It’s the way people think - and the way they have been taught to think.

In 1940 Great Britain, having been evicted from France, faced a possible German invasion. Looking around for any weapon with which to defend their island, they found that they still had a large supply of WWI vintage field pieces. They trained some new crews of young soldiers in the operation of the old artillery and went around giving demonstrations on how they would be used if required.

Then someone asked about the roles of two soldiers who did nothing during the aiming, loading, and firing of the gun but simply stood there and came to stiff attention about 3 seconds before the gun was fired.

No one knew what they were doing or why. The soldiers themselves were only doing what they were trained to do. Thereafter, at each demonstration the observers were asked if they knew the purpose of the two men.

Finally, an aged Brigadier snapped his fingers and said “I know! They are holding the horses!” The old field pieces originally were horse drawn, and it was an absolute necessity that the horses to be held, especially just before the gun was fired, since they had an embarrassing tendency to run off when they heard loud noises, otherwise.

Of course, the horses had been replaced by motor vehicles but they still had the men standing there, holding the nonexistent horses because they had “always done it that way.”

So why do we still fight wars as if they were Korea or Vietnam all over again? The politicians know how to hold nonexistent horses, too. And they have “always done it that way.”

5/12/2008 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

The U.S. Civil War must count as a big war.

Vietnam with 3 million US deployed was a somewhat bigger war than WWI with 2 million US deployed.

5/12/2008 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Bill Dunbar,
While your (or Hackworth's synopsis about the big support bases might be correct;it sure was nice to go to Cu Chi or Lai Khe base camp and go to the PX and buy an American cheeseburger of sorts in a tin foil wrapper. God bless the Special Forces,but the average 19 year old draftee from factory towns and farmlands wasn't about to go native.
After Tet (and often before it)the war was pretty much conventional slugfests and small unit shootouts with the NVA. Read some accounts of the Khe Sanh hill fights or the battles around Con Thien or Dong Ha on the DMZ or the 4th Division and the 173rd Airborne slugging it out with NVA Divisions around Pleiku or the 101st in the A Shau Valley.Sure looked like a war to me.

5/12/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

It should be noted that Viet Nam was a just battlefield in a long Cold War. The actual grand strategy of the Cold War was the Containment policy. The theory was that communism could only succeed if it continued to expand. If it didn't expand -- it would collapse of its own weight.

This assessment was essentially correct.

So while the battle at Viet Nam was lost the Cold War of which it was part --was won. Same goes for Korea.

But both wars were not really over territory but rather ideas.

5/13/2008 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger InternetFred said...

Israel trained it's army to fight counter-insurgency and found it was not prepared to fight a more classical ground war against Hezbollah.

Hezbollah used one set of strategies, with threats of classical warfare from Arab countries in the background, while Hamas used another.

The Communists faced the US with classical/nuclear war in Europe, and used the peasants of South East Asia to fight a guerrilla war against the US.

Both situations forced a single command structure to adapt to the two different paradigms of war. Both situations used two different military organizations on the enemy side, one classical, one guerrilla. This enabled them to specialize, whereas the Americans and Israelis were forced to generalize.

If the US turns it's land army from Iraq into Iran, it may suffer from the same problem. The US Army is now trained in counter-insurgency, but has it lost it's sharpness in mechanized land war?

Has the US focus on lighter weight vehicles rendered them more vulnerable to Iran's anti-armor weapons?

5/13/2008 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

RWE, the aged Brigadier was planted in the crowd to be part of the demonstration. He knew the Royal Artillery didn't waste men holding imaginary horses. He knew the horse drawn artillery had a Chief of the Caisson and six drivers to hold twelve horses and they needed no help from cannoneers.

The extra two were spares, instantly available to replace killed or maimed numbers on the gun, but the mothers of Britain got a chuckle out of holders of imaginary horses and could sidestep the grim reality represented by the necessity for spare men.

5/13/2008 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Wretchard said @ 0744

Once you know what the ghost is, you can deal with it.

The ghosts are Jane Fonda
Traitors unhanged
Seditionists elected to political power
Draft dodgers pardoned
Domestic terrorists appointed to positions of academic power
Hungarian billionaire replacements for KGB handlers

America did not lose the Vietnam War. America forfeited the Vietnam War. America was ahead at the end of the second period. The team fell apart in the locker room and failed to return to the ice.

To express concern over the vulnerability of the American domestic target audience to Soviet, North Vietnamese, Red Chinese, and Peace Movement psychological warfare and how they defeated American national will is to be denigrated as an adherent to the "stabbed in the back narrative" and by implication a proto-Nazi purveyor of Dolchstosslegende.

But the Republic of Vietnam was stabbed in the back, and the the honor of hundreds of thousands of honorable men who had made promises, commitments and personal assurances to Vietnamese was impugned when they were proven to be liars. Those men of honor had reason to believe their country would back them up. Their country didn't.

There is your ghost.

5/13/2008 03:31:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

Teresita said:
Vietnam with 3 million US deployed was a somewhat bigger war than WWI with 2 million US deployed.

True.

But during Vietnam the United States had a population of about 200 million people, with 3 million deployed.

However, during the Civil War, the US had a population of only about 31 million people. With 2 million men deployed, that was a far larger war for the United States.

In fact, with that many men deployed, rationing, and dual war economies, the Civil War qualifies as a "Total War".

5/13/2008 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Stephen said, "However, during the Civil War, the US had a population of only about 31 million people. With 2 million men deployed, that was a far larger war for the United States."

When Cain murdered Abel, he wiped out 25% of the world's population, making it the largest war in history.

5/13/2008 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger weswinger said...

Cannoneer has the right take on W's question to identify the ghost. Among others, Cannoneer identifies a couple of "domestic terrorists appointed to positions of academic power." I'm sure Ayers and Dohrn are feted by their fellow academics, having gotten away with murder, and even more importantly given the bourgeoisie the finger. Cleaning the Augean stables was nothing compared to the task of cleaning the fashionable Marxists and their offspring from University Liberal Arts departments. These geniuses are doing their best to educate generations who are suspicious of American power and treat patriotism with a sneer.

5/13/2008 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

katchoo said
"When Cain murdered Abel, he wiped out 25% of the world's population, making it the largest war in history."

Nice try, but you missed. Genesis Ch 4 says:

4:10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
4:11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
4:12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
4:13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
4:15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.


So, clearly there were already more people on Earth than Cain, Abel, Adam, and Eve.

Nobody likes a smart-alec. :-p

5/13/2008 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

"But the Republic of Vietnam was stabbed in the back, and the the honor of hundreds of thousands of honorable men who had made promises, commitments and personal assurances to Vietnamese was impugned when they were proven to be liars. Those men of honor had reason to believe their country would back them up. Their country didn't.

There is your ghost."


Compounded by silence of men haunted by faces of friends, friends in whose honor as well as by the oath they've sworn to uphold the rights of miserable people to say such miserable things about the honor of gallant men.

It is not fair, and I have to admit I do not understand the tremendous amount of self restraint applied in the face of such miserable people. It is the recognition of all of that respect and all of that pent up emotion that compels me to honor veterans of South East Asia even more.

But on the battle field, having soldiers conversant with the shear weight of knowledge of the practical matters of forming a unified conventional command, on the one hand, while having the self assurance to act independently toward a single objective require skill sets not commonly associated with tankers or grunts alone. But that is exactly what we are asking our guys to do and be, in Baghdad and elsewhere. The relative ease with which they change rolls speaks volumes about their character and more.

It must be exponentially more difficult to procure for such a force, and deliver the needed weapons on time and in proper order. There are huge challenges ahead for our service members, in not only instructing the congress about what they need but why such capabilities are required.

Especially where the faces of honorable men confront the faces of miserable figures. It is not an easy task.

5/13/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Brian Jenkins report reminds me of Joseph Heller's novel, "Catch 22", only without the moaning. It is an apt and accurate assessment of the culture of the Military in Vietnam, but the force we have today has been in transformation since President George HW Bush, although the transformation slowed to a crawl, it continued under President Clinton, and the transforming was given new life under the current President even before the urgency of 9/11.

To the aspects of a mobile, agile and lethal outfit we have added the duties of Civil affairs, community development, Press corpsmen, banker lawyer and..., Indian Chief.

With the latest version of counterinsurgency doctrine, it is not enough, it seems to me, "to git thar, da Fustus, wid da Mostus". But we must prepare our soldiers to stay out there until there is no need to return. That will of necessity require some creative defining and application of the concepts of leave, deployment and rotation on our part to make possible a coherent uninterrupted transformation from a battlefield to a "field of dreams".

5/13/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

When you fight a war you have to keep one thing in mind and only one thing. If the fight is important enough for some of the citizens of your country to die, then it has to be important enough for all the citizens in your country to run the risk of dying. Otherwise it is easy to start a fight because it is not your son that is going to run the risk of dying, it is your neighbor's.

In this context the conclusion is the following: Your enemy must not have any sanctuary, and your targets can only be limited by their materiality, not by any “sentimental” or mythical “morality,” nor by the concern of an expanding theatre of operation, nor by what the world “opinion” will be like. However, you first serve notice on the un-elected head of the countries involved; it is your life and that of those you love we are going after first, and we can assure you that they will not be alive by the end of this.

5/13/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

When you fight a war you have to keep one thing in mind and only one thing. If the fight is important enough for some of the citizens of your country to die, then it has to be important enough for all the citizens in your country to run the risk of dying. Otherwise it is easy to start a fight because it is not your son that is going to run the risk of dying, it is your neighbor's.

I respectfully disagree with, and quite honestly do not find any sense of hope for a rational response to any aggression given such vague outline. The Emotional vacuum you declare we much display toward an aggressor is negated by the emotionality upon which you require we base the decision to respond. I would rather not make such decisions emotionally nor fail to make them due to such unreasonable expectations.

5/13/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Graytooth said...

of all the conflicts america has been in only 3 or 4 strike me as victories; War for Independence & 1812, Civil War, & WW2.
the overwhelming reason for the victories in these is that a major portion of the people were really behind winning.
all the other stalemates and loses, including the ones we are in now, are marked by the fact that the people's hearts aren't into it.
that's the bottom line.
When the people are more interested in American Idol and Britney, wars can't be won. a small group of fiercly dedicated people on their own turf can defeat an army of much larger size, presitige and wealth. it happens all the time in history. its how we won our independence. bottom line=politicians shouldn't get us into wars the people aren't behind.

5/13/2008 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

the overwhelming reason for the victories in these is that a major portion of the people were really behind winning.

The numbers just aren't there to support that statement for either the War of Independence or the Civil War. Not for the War of 1812, Spanish American or the Mexican War either. And certainly not WWI. WWII like the present conflict left us with little good options I believe. To ignore what was occurring in states that sponsored radical Islamic sects would have been irresponsible and akin to inviting more 9/11 style attacks on the US as well as more such attacks throughout the west.

Popular or not, that much is as plain as day to me, and yes I have a big problem with how the Liberation of Iraq was packaged and sold to the UN and the American public. But those are arguments for another time and a different day. Today IMO, we should be discussing how to be victorious, and defining what that victory should entail.

5/13/2008 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

Wadeusaf, war is the most reprehensible and horrible of all situations…..except for the loosing of one’s freedom. This last qualification is so unthinkable to the American people that it is never mentioned as a possibility though the world’s history is full of examples where this has happened. It should be emphasized that the freedoms we presently enjoy appeared in the world scene less than three hundred years ago.

What is the obligation of a free country towards its soldiers once the country engages in war? The operational term here is a “free country” as it means that in that country every citizen is entitled to what we normally would call life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but because of the decision of engaging in war, some of them will be deprived of all and some will return with handicaps that will deprive them of the full enjoyment to which they are entitled. Given this circumstance, it is obvious that a free country’s responsibility is to attempt to win the conflict in as short a time as possible, and to use every means at its disposal in order to minimize casualties among its citizens.

But is this what we did in Korea, or in Vietnam, or is it what we are presently doing in the Middle East or Afghanistan? I think not. Instead for political or other reasons, in each of those conflicts we have ignored the rights of those citizens that are placed in harms way, and endowed our enemies and those in the area of conflict with rights which per force should belong to our soldiers. We have done this by enacting rules of engagements that create constraints on our soldiers which are at odd with the responsibility which the country has to them.

I for one firmly believe that the life of one American soldier is priceless, and thus, worth more than the life of any enemy regardless of the place he chooses to fight from or run to. There should not be any sanctuary when an enemy attacks our soldiers, and if collateral damage happens so be it! To think and act otherwise is to discriminate against our soldiers by assigning more value to the enemy or to those caught up in the fog of war than to our fellow citizens, and no one has or should have that right.

If we are not willing to adhere to the above principle, in my opinion we should not fight a war.

5/14/2008 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

What is the obligation of a free country towards its soldiers once the country engages in war?

Respect.

5/14/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

>>What is the obligation of a free country towards its soldiers once the country engages in war?

Respect.<<

Yes, always respect, and gratitude also among other things, ...but respect and these other sentiments alone have never put an enemy down

5/14/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Emphasis, your use of the word "entitled" tells me much about your argument. Respectfully, there is a contract between "we the people" and certain of its citizens to "protect and defend".

As far as I am aware, concern for the lives of our soldiers has always been a part of that determination to make war. I know of NO President so callous as to not be effected strongly by the exercise, or decision not to exercise the power to make war.


As far as I am aware, Cogito ergo sum, is a sentiment far older than a few hundred years, and the self evident truths implied were recognized considerably longer ago.

5/14/2008 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Emphasis, this war started as a cultural counter insurgency. Unless you are willing to kill half the planet there is no other way to reduce the effect of those radical religious elements in Islam and the callous cold and calculating monsters that use those radicals to their own perceived advantage. As horrible and as it is, as impersonal as the weapons are, the face of war is deadly personal, and deadly serious. The actions you favor (by implication) would have no long term lasting deterrent effect on the enemy, and no short term good would result.

I will not countenance a blood bath, it is not in our psyche to handle murder in such large numbers, even by such impersonal means. That is why those galant men reenlist for second and third tours, because it is worth the effort. Those people we liberated are worth the effort.

5/15/2008 05:14:00 AM  
Blogger Emphasis said...

Wadeusaf said

>>The actions you favor (by implication) would have no long term lasting deterrent effect on the enemy, and no short term good would result.<<

On the contrary, once those supplying the training and the logistics become convinced that it is not only their underlings that are going to die in the war, but that they personally, and those they love no longer can count with having a sanctuary, they will take the steps necessary to terminate their involvement and thereby reduce or terminate the conflict. I can give you a number of examples of this, but I believe Libya’s Kaddafi is a prime one.

>>I will not countenance a blood bath, it is not in our psyche to handle murder in such large numbers<<

Look, I know you mean well just as I believe I do, our perspective are different. I will countenance the killing not the murder of those that would do harm to our country in as big a number as it takes to avoid my neighbor, or my family or others dying in combat for the reasons I previously stated. During the Vietnam War it was galling to see the enemy run back into the North or Laos, or Cambodia whenever the war got to hot for them, and to realize that Ho would never have to pay for the death of our soldiers. We are now in my opinion seeing the same thing in Iraq. You have Iran and Syria providing the resources, training or sanctuaries for those that are killing our men, and what do we do? We talk. I am sorry but I find this unconscionable.

5/15/2008 03:37:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger