We are now looking at Iraq imploding, with its army folding faster than that of the ARVN in 1975, and part of our problem here is not understanding our history.
The conventional thinking is that we lost despite never having lost a battle.
This is echoed in many places, most notably in the PhD thesis of General
Can't Keep His Pants On Petraeus.
You remember, that quote by General Giap about never winning a battle.
It turns out that not only is the quote false, but we lost over 70 battles in Vietnam.
Still, you say, we lost. Remember those Iconic pictures of the helicopter on the embassy roof?
Here is the reason that we didn't lose: Because if we lost, it was a failure of will, and so we buy into the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics, that success is dictated purely by will, which makes the Vietnamese victory an artifact of the inadequate soldiering of our draftee army, and the will of the American people.
That is not what happened. We got beat. We got beat as badly as Brazil got beat by Germany in the World Cup.
This is important, because if we lost because we were not tough enough, than there were no lessons learned beyond endless Friedman Units as the path to victory, and we just have to suck it up while our blood and treasure are spent.
If the Vietnamese beat us, as opposed to us losing, the lessons are quite different.
The lessons are things like:
- Don't occupy a country, "Just Because".
- Don't install a petty tyrant if you need to win hearts and minds.
- Intervention frequently makes things worse, not better, for the inhabitants.
- Intervention frequently costs more than blood and treasure, it costs credibility and respect.
- WHOEVER THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA SHOULD NEVER BE LISTENED TO EVER AGAIN.
You see, if we ask, "How did we lose Iraq," rather than "How
do did we get beaten in Iraq," then Papa Dick and Baby Dick (Cheney) and their ilk still have credibility, because they continue insisting that it was simply a matter of will.
It's not a matter of will. It is a defeat, and the seeds of the defeat were laid by people like Poppa Dick and Baby Dick.