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Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, May 9. 2011
Bottom Line: “We lost the war in Vietnam.” That is irrefutable. The continuing arguments are about: who “we” are, why, who is responsible, and what could have been.
As someone who has been deeply involved in these debates since the 60s (including serving in Vietnam, USMC intel at 1st MarDiv HQs), I have to recommend an enlightening book and an essay.
The book is better than the Pentagon Papers which presented a hodge podge of US decision makers comments during the earlier phases of the war. This book is the candid after-action, after fall of South Vietnam, considered writings by leading South Vietnamese generals. The Vietnam War: An Assessment By South Vietnam’s Generals is edited by highly regarded historian Lewis Sorley.
By no means can supporters of the US in Vietnam take comfort in the book. The authors provide enough quotes to fill any anti-war essay. Lewis Sorley comments: “I think, for one, that they are in many instances far too hard on themselves and on the Vietnamese in general, both politically and militarily. They make few excuses, and instead are forthright in assigning, and assuming, blame.” That is, also, a strength of the book. It is an honest assessment, which if actually read by critics of the war and today’s students, cuts through the perplexities about our ally and battleground in the Cold War. Sorley: “Now, we know, however, that when well armed and equipped, and well led, they performed gallantly and with spirit.”
At almost 1000 pages, the book is comprehensive, well-written, and possibly the most valuable on the war. For length and price ($60), and for failing to meet one-sided prejudices, few will read it. But, anyone at all serious about understanding the perplexing questions and arguing with any integrity must read it. I’ve taken weeks to read it, at almost every page learning something new, and at many pages having my prior views enlightened. Similarly, noted and knowledgeable critic of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tom Ricks, in preparing his own forthcoming book on the Vietnam War calls this book “terrific (and massive).”
Fortunately, historian Mark Moyar presents an enlightening essay that will help students of the Vietnam War understand the conflicting historical accounts, Vietnam: Historians at War. It is an invaluable survey of the “orthodox” historians of defeat (“…most academic and journalistic accounts of the war written during and shortly afterwards depicted Vietnam as a bad war that the United States should not have fought. Antiwar history of the Vietnam War thus acquired the label of “orthodox” history.”) versus the “revisionist” historians who disagree and have unearthed formerly unreleased or unknown facts.
If a student needs an understanding of the historiography of the Vietnam War and a guide to differing accounts, Mark Moyar’s essay is a great launching point.
P.S.: For historical record, below is the never before published look back at the last diplomatic days of South Vietnam as told by its longtime Ambassador to the US, Bui Diem, at a conference last year.
The Last Days of the Republic of Vietnam -- and Iraq and Afghanistan
by Ambassador Bui Diem
For a Vietnamese who almost four decades ago had to work through and witness as an official participant the process of US withdrawal from the Vietnam War, it was reassuring to listen to President Obama in his West Point commencement speech. He clearly distanced himself from George W. Bush's policy of "preemptive war" and talked about a new "international order" based on diplomacy and engagement that "can solve the challenges of our time". At the same time, he talked about "responsibilities and consequences".
For many of us, it is critical how exactly he defines these two words, at a time when the US is still engaged in two wars, one in Iraq where Washington is poised to end its combat operations and one in Afghanistan, where the conflict is intensifying while calling for global cooperation. That concept may be more important in the short run than the formal new national security doctrine announced a few days later.
Yet, from the narrower perspective of a Vietnamese who participated in a conference last spring commemorating the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, what is particularly relevant in this approach is its concept of "responsibilities and consequences" Such an approach to foreign policy is certainly an ambitious one given the present world turmoil.
"Nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities and facing [the] consequences when they don't" were President Obama’s exact words. The President probably had in mind the responsibilities of all the nations on the global scene especially in time of crisis. But in the special cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, what is the Obama Administration’s responsibility and how does it exercise that trust as it disengages from these two wars?
Since the withdrawal from war is already accepted by all parties as a matter of principle (although the dates are still uncertain), there are obvious parallels between what the US did vis-à-vis South Vietnam in the seventies and today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, no historical analogies are very apt. Today we have two different wars, in a different era and under different US leadership. But with these two Middle East conflicts still undecided, it might be worthwhile to review what happened during the last days of the Republic of Vietnam when Washington went through the process of withdrawal.
As with all the issues in the whole long and tortured episode we call “Vietnam”, there were many different perspectives. The hair-raising events in Saigon in the last days of the Republic of Vietnam itself were only one aspect. They were matched behind the scenes in Washington where another drama took place. And, alas! I was to play a role, however ineffectual through no fault of my own, in those Inside-the-Beltway events.
The final days of America’s “Vietnam” were played out in the American capital against the fierce determination of Hanoi to mount a general offensive against the South [the Paris Peace Accords notwithstanding], mightily encouraged by the Soviet Union and massively supplied by Communist China. On the other side, Saigon was in a defensive mode -- not knowing exactly to what extent it could count on foreign aid. Its only ally, the US, already tired of the sacrifices and divided at home by the war, the political process became paralyzed by the messy Watergate Scandal.
Washington appeared ready at almost any cost, to find a way out of the morass. That would come about by virtually ignoring the sacrifice of more than 58,000 Americans lives in Viet Nam, even when it was a matter of a few additional hundred millions of dollars of military aid.
As a Special Envoy from Saigon, I had to fly back and forth to Washington to do the impossible: to plead the lost cause of Vietnam. On numerous occasions no one in the corridors of power in Washington wanted to talk to me.
Earlier a large part of my job when I served as ambassador in Washington, of course, been to work with both the Administration and the Congress to keep the volume of aid [economic and military] flowing to Vietnam at an acceptable level from the point of view of Saigon’s survival. I have to confess, in this respect, that for many years I was comparatively lucky. Even after the shock of the Tet attacks in 1968, support for the war was still more or less accepted by public opinion. The US troops were still in Vietnam and the “Vietnamization” program – turning over responsibilities to the Vietnamese all the military and civilian programs -- showed progress, promising a solution with the gradual withdrawal of US troops.
In this environment the Congress acquiesced for aid to Vietnam and my job was facilitated. But those favorable circumstances did not last long. In fact, many of my Congressional friends, Democrats and Republicans, [among them I would mention particularly the late Congressman Clement Zablocki, the two late Senators George Aiken and John Tower] helped me greatly with their analysis of the mood of the Congress. They warned me as early as the fall of 1971 that the cost of the war had become a serious factor in the budget debate on the Hill. As a matter of consequence, aid to Vietnam, even at what was considered “normal’ levels, they said, should not be taken for granted. I shared my deep concern about the situation with Saigon in my regular reports back to our government.
The “Reality Test” came like a sudden storm in January 1973 when National Security Adviser Dr. Henry Kissinger was ready to conclude with Hanoi the Paris Peace Agreement.
I was to be an eyewitness. In December 1972, having resigned earlier in the year from my post in the US, I was enjoying my status as a private citizen in Saigon when President Nguyen Van Thieu called me back and sent me to Washington as his special envoy to try to improve the draft of the Paris Peace Accords. He had deep reservations as it had been presented to him by Dr. Henry Kissinger, U.S. National Security Adviser, earlier in October.
In fact, a serious rift had developed between Saigon and Washington, the negotiations in Paris were interrupted, the “carpet bombings” during Christmas followed, and under pressure, the Communists returned to the Paris talks. Now in January 1973, the negotiators returned for what seemed likely to be the final round.
The particular issue Pres.Thieu gave me to try to amend was the presence of the North Vietnamese troops inside South Vietnam, ignored in Mr. Kissinger’s draft.
“It is late in the day” President Thieu told me “but we still have to do everything we can. I am asking you to explain to Washington that the presence of the North Vietnamese troops in the South is a problem of life and death for us. Maybe it is too late but as long as there is any water left, we have to soap it.”
I arrived in Washington on January 5, 1973, with the forthcoming discussion with Dr. Kissinger about how to improve the Accords uniquely preoccupying me. To tell the truth, I had not given a thought to the problem of aid to Vietnam. Yet, as I was to discover very quickly, the aid issue loomed ever larger and threatening on the horizon. I learned quickly that trying to improve the Peace Accords was already a lost cause. One way or the other, the Accords would be signed but the aid issue surged as part of the overall equation. Whether vital aid to Vietnam would continue, paradoxically, would depend more on Saigon than on Washington. It was made clear to me that if Saigon refused to go along with the US decision to conclude the agreement, any agreement, with Hanoi, aid would be cut off
To appreciate the tense conversations in Washington, I take the liberty of quoting directly the words of Dr, Kissinger in a meeting with him at the White House on January 5. The National Security Adviser told us [former Foreign Minister Dr Tran Van Do, Amb. Tran Kim Phuong and myself] that he and President Richard Nixon “had decided in cold blood that it was essential to reach an agreement now because it would provide a new basis for the continuation of aid to South Vietnam” As to General Alexander Haig, the White House chief of staff, whom I met a few days later on January 11, he told me: “President Nixon has no more flexibility. I have no doubt about his determination to proceed in case there is an acceptable agreement. He will call publicly on President Thieu to join him, and if President Thieu rejects it, then that will mean the abandonment of Vietnam.”
It was as blunt and brutal as that.
Furthermore, the reality was that aid to Vietnam was a burning issue even before the Accords were signed. In effect, South Vietnam had a Hobson’s choice: either accept the agreement [basically one that had been already negotiated] with only a vague and uncertain promise of US aid, with it the heavy odds for war later with the North Vietnamese troops already inside our territory, or refuse to sign the agreement and face the complete cut-off of US aid.
Again, I quote here the exact words of Dr Kissinger in a meeting with me and my colleagues in Paris on January 12, just a few days before he put his signature to the Accords: “Your overwhelming and urgent requirement for the time being is continued US support. We will come soon to the moment of truth. You either conclude the agreement with us or be cut off from US assistance.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
On January 27, 1973, having to choose between two evils, South Vietnam chose the lesser one and reluctantly signed the Paris Peace Accords. Saigon counted on the continued support of the US promised by Pres. Nixon after a grueling last minute exchange of letters. The world rejoiced at the good news, Washington prepared to welcome back the prisoners of war, Saigon tried to figure out how to cope with the new uncertain situation, and Hanoi celebrated their self-proclaimed victory with preparations to regroup their forces for a final showdown.
I don’t know whether we can call it “a decent interval”, but in the aftermath of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, there was a relaxed atmosphere all around. With the American soldiers now home and the prisoners of war released or soon to be released, the U.S. seemed to be in a new mood, no longer obsessed with “Vietnam”. President Thieu was invited to the US for a state visit to meet President Nixon at San Clemente. The Vietnamese President attached a good deal of importance to this meeting, not only because he considered it as part of a promise of support for him personally, but also because he considered it an opportunity to gauge, face to face, to what extent he could really count on the American President. With the visit scheduled for April 3, he asked me again in mid-March to return to the US to prepare the ground for the summit and assess at the same time the mood of the Congress regarding aid to Vietnam.
Laying the groundwork for the presidential visit this time brought me back in touch with White House aides, Congressmen, Senators and newsmen, the whole Washington circle. Sniffing the new post-Paris air, I immediately appreciated some remarkable differences: the oppressive political atmosphere that anyone could feel in January was gone, Vietnam as an issue was already a thing of the past, the tension in the Middle East was the news of the day and for the man in the street, the question was what would be the domestic initiatives of the reelected President. As to aid for Vietnam, if you asked the opinion of the Congressional staffers on the Hill, the consensus was definitely that it could not be the same as in previous years when US troops were still in Vietnam. But hopefully it could be maintained at some reduced level.
I went back to my old friends in the Congress and other supporters of the cause of Vietnam, including Senators Jake Javits, John Tower and George Aiken to ask them whether it were true, as Dr. Kissinger described it, that the Peace Accords, once signed, could be the new basis for the continuation of aid to Vietnam. Their sympathy for Vietnam notwithstanding, all of them said to me that since all the US troops were back and with new developments on the international scene, it was quite difficult to predict the outcome of Congressional legislation.
President Thieu went to the summit meeting in San Clemente with great expectations. And while he might not have got all what he had hoped for, he came away from his discussions with the American President in very good spirits. He had got assurance of strong retaliatory action if North Vietnam violated the signed agreement and he received promises of economic and military support.
“You can count on us” were the exact words of President Nixon during the meeting at San Clemente.
But nobody on our side at this point in time guessed that even as he hosted the Vietnamese delegation, the American leader was at the height of his power, just reelected to a second term in a landslide victory, but struggling with a developing scandal that, one and a half years later, forced him to resign. To the contrary, everyone believed that with the reassurance of our allies, one way or the other, aid to Vietnam would continue and the Vietnamese delegation, including Pres. Thieu, returned to Saigon reassured and in an optimistic mood.
The real awakening came in the fall of 1973. Despite the dangerous developments in the Middle East, the oil embargo, increasing embarrassment for the Nixon Administration because of the Watergate scandal, I made another trip back to Washington in October to plead for military supplies. Immediately I found myself in a situation where literally there was not a single person I could talk to about the Vietnam lifeline.
In fact, Washington was in shock. Vice President Spiro Agnew had resigned for alleged corruption, Attorney General Elliot Richardson had quit over the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and the city seemed paralyzed. As to the request from the Administration to the Congress for aid to Vietnam, it dropped from $2.1 billion by almost half. It was further cut to $700 million by the Congress in its appropriation vote. The Defense Department’s fiscal procedures reduced this amount even more, leaving only about $400 millions for Saigon at a time when soaring world fuel and commodities prices consumed a large part of the aid. It looked like the US Congress was doing what it could to shut down military and economic aid to South Vietnam.
By the end of 1973 the already dismal picture became even worse with the deepening political crisis involving Pres. Nixon. When Congress overrode a presidential veto and in November passed the War Powers Act, dramatically limiting the president’s power to use the armed forces, the President no longer had the ability to fulfill the obligations he had undertaken during the Paris negotiations. By March 1974, the talks in Washington were about the impending impeachment hearings.
Precisely at this moment, on the way back from a diplomatic trip together with General Tran Van Don [by then Saigon’s Vice Prime Minister] to Japan and France, I returned once more to the US to make a general assessment. Even more frustrated than with the previous trips, all I could do was to take note of the debilitating political atmosphere. I tried to draw attention of everyone to the increasing dangerous probing military operations initiated by the Hanoi regime in flagrant violation of the Peace Accords, but nobody was interested. The dozen members of the Congress [six Democrats and four Republicans including the Speaker of the House Carl Albert] I visited during this time seemed to forget that just a few years back half a million GI’s were fighting the war and that now the Vietnamese needed help. I made no impression even though I argued my request was not for more American blood but for economic aid and military supplies to continue the fight against the invasion from the North. As to the many conservative Democrats [among them Senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and John Stennis] who earlier had supported the war, they now kept their distance each time the subject of aid to Vietnam came up.
One consolation prize should be reported here nevertheless. General Don and I met with Vice President Ford on March 20. He was kind enough to express sympathy for the cause of Vietnam, but what could a vice president do in the circumstances at that time? It was small consolation, indeed.
Although I made another trip to the US in September 1974 just after the resignation of Pres. Nixon in August, there was nothing to report to Saigon except the sad atmosphere in Washington when Vice President Ford took office as the new president. He did, however, send a letter to President Thieu with the reassuring words: “… the existing commitments this nation has made in the past are still valid and will be fully honored by my administration”
The situation in Vietnam quickly deteriorated around the end of 1974. On the military front, it became clear that Hanoi was preparing a new offensive. The Communist Politbureau viewed the Nixon resignation as an unmistakable indication that the US would not reenter the war.
Hanoi started their probing offensive by attacking the provincial capital of Phuoc Long in January. There was no reaction from Washington. They then initiated their major offensive by attacking Ban Me Thuot, a strategic provincial capital in the Central Highlands. The city fell on March 11.
On March 15, President Thieu called me in to talk over a new and what was to be my last mission to Washington. At that time I had just returned from fence-mending to New Delhi, one of the many stops that made up my itinerary as South Vietnam’s ambassador at large, a diplomatic troubleshooter attempting to shore up Vietnam’s image, improve bilateral relations and seek financial aid in Southeast Asia, Japan, India, France and of course, in the US.
I came home from New Delhi somewhat tired after the constant traveling. But March 75 was not normal time. It was obviously critical. Militarily the country was in danger, and the President himself was in deep political trouble at home. My sense then was that I had to accept the mission but should press him on the necessity to call the nation to arms by forming a government of national unity. I asked him to accept the idea of meeting two other senior political friends of mine, the respected former Foreign Minister Tran Van Do and the labor leader Tran Quoc Buu. and the three of us went to the presidential palace to see him. Although my mission was to go to Washington to lobby for $700 million in aid in a military emergency, we talked more about politics than about military matters. The conversation spurred rumors that I had asked for the resignation of the president. In fact, Pres. Thieu did not even mention to us the military decision he had taken a few days earlier, the withdrawal from Pleiku and Kontum, former plateau strong points.
On March 22, I arrived in Washington after learning of the disastrous retreat from the highlands. This tragedy turned the $700 million in emergency funds -- the object of my trip -- from an urgent necessity into a matter of life or death. The continued existence of my country was now to play out its final act in the halls of the US Congress.
The day after my arrived in Washington, Hue, the old imperial capital was cut off. In Washington, Congress adjourned for a ten-day recess. Dr. Kissinger was away, engaged in Middle East diplomacy, Pres. Ford had gone on vacation in Vail, Colorado. That day I met with Philip Habib, an old friend at the State Department. Habib was gloomy and pessimistic, but my old friend, George Aiken, the senator from Vermont was even grimmer. “The outlook is bleak”, he told me. Habib told me: “The President is tied down by the War Powers Act. I don’t know how he can get through to the Congressmen... We have to impress them with the emergency, but he really has his hands tied “
On March 30, the port of Danang was overwhelmed by a force of 35,000 North Vietnamese troops. But a momentary light glowed when Pres. Ford sent Army Chief of Staff Frederick C. Weyand to Vietnam along with CIA Far East Chief Ted Shackley to assess the situation and to recommend whatever further action they thought necessary. On April 9, the day he returned, I went to see Gen.Weyand. Although pessimistic, he felt the South Vietnamese still had a chance to regroup and hold if military assistance could be delivered in time. He would support immediate passage of an aid bill. Unfortunately, the glimmer of hope died two days later, April 11, when the bill was defeated. Cut off from communication with my government, with nothing more to be done in the American halls of power, my role was finished.
My political experience taught me not just what was about to happen but to appreciate the viewpoint of the lawmakers. But deep in my heart I knew that the essential question had nothing to do with American credibility or the unfitness of the Saigon leaders. The essential issue in my mind at this point was the kind of lives that millions of South Vietnamese would have to endure once the Congress had made its choice. Their lives and the lives of their children and of their children’s children -- that was the real issue. But in 1975, this was not an issue that could be expected to move American legislators. And I could not contain my rage at the unfairness of it. And inside my temporary little home in Washington, I could not keep from weeping.
A version of this paper was delivered at a conference, 35 Years after the Valiant Struggle of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam, April 9. 2010, at the Army Navy Club, Washington, D.C.
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Cain't get enuff Viet Nam?
is essential for folks need'n to get a grip on it.
I will check it out. Sorley's book "A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam" was spectacular.
Nixon and Congress threw that war away.
Don't forget all the Democrats fellow travelers in Congress.
Indeed, the debacle in Vietnam was Democrat.
Expect more of same in Libya.
Sorry, Bruce, I don’t buy it. We didn’t “lose” the war in Vietnam since there was never the possibility of a “win” without the political will to level most of Hanoi and mine Haiphong harbor. I’m glad I finished my tours there before the Paris “peace talks” sham.
There were 3 choices:
1. Destroy the North
2. Stay and give the South a chance to become a modern state - the South Korea solution - which Abrams was implementing until Nixon and Congress did #3.
3. Run away and watch the South collapse in an orgy of murder that consumes the region.
Absolutely. We cut'em off and then NV still had to do a massive full invasion to finish the south.
The ARVN, with copious support from US Forces, i.e., USAF, Navy/USMC aircraft plus US Naval bombardment, defeated the April 1972 invasion of South Vietnam. That was the second such defeat; the first came in the summer of 1968 with the failure of the so-called Tet Offensive.
We did take steps in December 1972 to level Hanoi and put Haiphong out of business. As a result of that the North Vietnamese finally conducted some serious talks and our POWs came home.
Then the Democrats who dominated Congress at the time decided it was time to run away and watch the South collapse in an orgy of murder that also consumed Laos and Cambodia.
You left one piece out of the picture: Watergate. As a result of that media-driven political debacle, a bumper-crop of leftwing, antiwar Democrats were elected to Congress in '74. The consequent leftward shift in the Congressional center of gravity was a sine qua non for the aid cutoff in '75 that precipitated the final collapse.
IMHO, #3 actually runs deeper. While there were problems with Nixon's Vietnamization policy, it was generally working until Nixon himself became damaged goods. NV took advantage of the perfect storm of a weary and (largely) sympathetic Congress coupled with a politically weak President from a reeling party to test US resolve to defend SV, and they won the bet. Ford had no political capital to spend that far from home, and certainly not to fight Congressional Dems who didn't generally think that NV was all that bad.
"Bottom Line: “We lost the war in Vietnam.” That is irrefutable."
If you start with that, you blind yourself.
We WON the war to contain communist China, Vietnam was just stage left in that conflict.
The "loss", was just to fool China into thinking we were weak, and not to be worried about too much.
"Bottom Line: “We lost the war in Vietnam.” That is irrefutable."
That depends on your definition of "lost" - militarily, we won. Vietkong documents available today prove that "irrefutably". Then, we convinced ourselves we could never win and left in defeat.
Why that would happen, after the military engagement was already decided, is what's really interesting about Vietnam.
My take, after a one year non-combatant tour, is that the local populace were NEVER going to get behind the leader(s) of Saigon or Hanoi or Washington or Beijing--they owed allegiance to their ancestors only...farming and Buddism goverend their life and the ARVN were part of that local populace.
So if you send troops to defend South Vietnam, and North Vietnam stops attacking it and signs a peace treaty, and then you leave.... it's actually a loss if the North invades again 2 years later?
I guess we actually lost World War One then also. After all, the Germans invaded France again after we left.
Agreed! There were no US combat units involved when SVN fell. Hard to "lose" a war when we weren't even there.
We lost an ally but SVN lost the war.
Yea, SVN made some truly tactical blunders but then they panicked. If we had lived up to our word and supported them they could have held off NVN. But as William Bell stated, we had elected a bumper crop of moonbats and Ford didn't have the cajones that Nixon had.
I haven't read the books mentioned above, and so cannot comment on them. But it is clear from another work, The Big Story by Peter Braestrup, that we did NOT lose the war. We gave up, pulled out, and cut off all aid to the South. And we did this just at the point where the "Viet Cong" forces in the South had been virtually wiped out by the ill concieved Tet debacle.
The North was on the point of agreeing to negotiate an end to the hostilities, with a Korean style partition, when Walter Cronkite announced on the evening news that Tet proved that we had lost the war. The US public believed this false statement, and the anti-war Left pressured the Congress to not only withdraw US troops, but to cut off all aid to the South.
The Communist Northen Army, seeing the South now virtually defenseless, sent in tank divisions, supplied by Russia and China. The Southern Army ran out of supplies, and was willing but unable to defend itself.
We almost repeated this mistake in Iraq, with the same Leftist groups calling for an immediate pullout. Had we followed that advice, instead of the implementing the Surge, we would today be talking about how "we lost the war in Iraq".
It's time this lie is put to rest. We did NOT "lose" the war, we were falsely told we could not win it. And we gave up and abandonned our allies in the South right at the point where they had become capable of defending themselves, had we merely given them the same level of arms and ammunition that the Russians and the Chinese gave to the North.
For an excellent summary, google The Legacy of Tet by J R Dunn.
What our government did, abandoning South Vietnam, was worse than disgraceful. Like Ambassador Bui Diem, I wept for the people of the South, and was, and still am, forever ashamed of the Democrats.
I was going to comment on the falsity of your statement that we "lost" the war in Vietnam. I see that many commenters have already provided a thorough fisking of your claim. Especially well put by comment #8 (Jim).
Apparently some of the Commentors did not read the following sentance: "Bottom Line: “We lost the war in Vietnam.” That is irrefutable. The continuing arguments are about: who “we” are, why, who is responsible, and what could have been."
Bruce: Thanks for the post. This is a topic that people who do not want to be part of the collective delusion that is "liberalism" (a/k/a "progressiveism") in the US in the 21st century need to study and understand.
I think a lot of folks were set off by your intro and its reference to the collective delusion version of American History promulgated by the People's Democrat Party of the US and their fluffers in the State Run Media.
It was not until I read some articles by and about Moyar, that I realized the extent to which I was in the grip of the collective delusion.
I find it highly ironic that the same Democrats who where hell-bent to cut off Vietnam and feed it to the North in 1975 were later trying to figure a way to get out of the "quagmire" of Afghanistan, which they had assured everyone was the "real war of consequence."
Irony's a bitch, isn't it?
Actually the solutions to both wars are the same: prevent the enemy from getting sanctuary and fully support the local forces to secure the country. In Afghanistan we've done neither, as we allow AQ and Taliban to safely rest in Pakistan (aside from the occasional drone strike) and we try to rebuild the country ourselves while paying off Karzai to let him play president (like the Diem brothers, actually). We need to fight the war like a war, and if it means realizing that Pakistan is today's North Vietnam so be it.
See my earlier post: http://maggiesfarm.anotherdotcom.com/archives/17103-Repeat-1990s-The-Fate-of-Afghanistan-and-US-Foreign-Policy.html