12/15/2006

How to avoid Iraq becoming another Vietnam...


As far as I can see, there are emerging eerie similarities between the conflict in Iraq and the experiences of the United States during the Vietnam War, for the reasons, and ONLY the reasons that I elaborate on below...

First, the US military in Iraq has been effectively handcuffed by rules of engagement and coalition policies that limit the scope of operations to those of a defensive nature. This has marginalized the effectiveness of our counter-insurgency operations and prevented the Bush Administration from aggressively redefining the conflict to more accurately reflect the true nature of the enemy (which I will address further below). Similarly, during the war in Vietnam, the US decided the right policy was to maintain a defensive position in the south, rather than risk large scale casualties and a possible Russian intervention in an all out invasion of the North. I think it is fair to say that the Viet Cong would not have stood a chance against an invading US military, but politicians decided that an all out affair was a bad bet, and for all I know they made the right decision. But I can't help but feel that the outcome of the war in East Asia, and thus the mindset of the American people during this drawn-out conflict in Iraq, may have been fundamentally different if our strategy had focused on our strengths and less on our obvious shortcomings.

I find it difficult to believe that an insurgency as formidable and well equipped as that which we are current battling on the streets of Baghdad could possibly be home-grown, or entirely sectarian in nature, but rather bears the characteristics of a well financed and steadily reinforced militia serving as the proxy of our now long-standing enemy in Tehran. I believe that the only way to win in Iraq is by acknowledging the realities of the current conflict and taking the fight to the enemy, rather than give lip service to the hard work entailed in establishing an Iraqi military to assume responsibilities that I see as solely ours. Of course, politics prevent the president from doing just that, but with the midterm elections in the past and the Iranian regime basically laughing in our face as we scramble to fight an invisible enemy which they have financed, President Bush must not bend to the pressures of domestic politics because it is his and only his responsibility to make and implement US foreign policy. The only way out of Iraq, I fear, is through Iran...
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