- Posted June 19, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Did We Learn Anything from Viet Nam?
It is 2014.
It has been 40 years since the US of A pulled out of Viet Nam.
All these decades ago what did the US learn from that failed war?
Americans are tired of war - Iraq, Afghanistan.
We are afraid another war may be on the horizon.
That fear seems even more justified with the current crisis in Iraq. That fear is coming to fruition with American special forces being deployed as "advisers" and not in a "combat role".
One lesson was readily learned.
That lesson was in the way, we the people treat our returning troops. Our military personnel are greeted with hugs, kisses, bands playing today.
Our men and women returning from the Indo-China theater were greeted with boos, protests, spit, having things thrown at them, ostracized and ignored.
That has changed.
But let's look at the failure of Viet Nam from a different perspective, the lessons we apparently didn't learn.
For the last decade and a half, the nation has been embroiled in two wars (interventions). The one was in Iraq, toppling Sadaam Hussein, and enmeshing the US for eight years.
Now we have left and it looks similar to what happened when and after Saigon fell all over again.
Now we are once more back in that country.
The other war is a decade long in Afghanistan, a nation that gave aide and shelter to Osama Bin Ladin. Bin Ladin has been sent to hell in Pakistan, so why are we still in Afghanistan?
Let's for a moment look at the fact that politics was the biggest cause of the losses and defeat in Viet Nam. Politicians in Washington D.C. were directing military operations while the Generals were screaming about the tactics, the strategies and the ineptitude.
But the Generals' words kept falling on deaf ears. The politicians knew better.
Supposedly we had learned the lesson from Viet Nam to let the Generals conduct the war and keep the politicians busy fighting among themselves.
Apparently we didn't learn that lesson.
From the mistakes and ineptitude of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and the Administration of George W. Bush on to the continuing political gambles of the Barack Obama Administration, the conflicts in Iraq and continiuing in Afghanistan have been complicated by politicians sticking their noses into the war rooms.
Teachers were asked their views on the lessons from Viet Nam. If being graded by these teachers it would appear the US has not learned. The teachers views on the lessons can be read here:
Note this quote from a book that looks at the lessons from Viet Nam:
It is popular today to say that Vietnam could not have been won. The message emerging from this new study, on the contrary, is that despite some horrible blunders and incompetent political leadership at the highest levels, by 1973 the war had essentially been won. Partisan politics and mutual mistrust in Washington kept that message from reaching the right people, and a misunderstanding of public opinion prompted Congress to outlaw further U.S. military involvement essentially snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Does this sound familiar?
It could be said about Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then again perhaps I am writing and speaking to those who have no understanding or memory of that tragedy that lasted for well over a decade.
Public opinion polls over the years consistently show that two of three Americans judge the Vietnam War to have been a "mistake." Unfortunately, few claim to know what the U.S. should have done differently.
Over half do not have "a clear idea" what the war was about; a third can't even remember which side we supported. The problem is even worse for American youth - future citizens and leaders - who have no experience of the war and little or no knowledge of it.
Many knowledgeable adults cannot talk to youth about the war. They served in Vietnam and memories of that experience still are too painful.
Looking at the current state of affairs, it would seem we have learned nothing from Viet Nam.
Iraq is mired in civil war or falling into the camp of Iran as another province of a nation that supports worldwide terrorism.
Are we still allowing politicans to dictate military action without taking into account long-term issues and concerns?
Are we still allowing poiliticans to do what is popular to keep power without looking to see how much damage we are causing for the future?
Have we learned nothing four decades after Viet Nam?
I first wrote most of that back on January 4, 2012.
In light of what is occurring in Iraq now, it would appear that perhaps we are once more repeating the past.
When we went into Iraq over 10 years ago, the aim was to make the country a shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East. That has turned out to be a pipe dream, a flight of fantasy.
We thought with ridding Iraq of Sadaam Hussein we could "win the hearts and minds" of the people. This was part of the objective when our nation was involved in a 10+ years war in Viet Nam.
How wrong we were then and now.
What our politicians failed to do was look long term.
What our politicians failed to understand was the deep divide and ancient grudge match ongoing between Sunni and Shia.
What our politicians failed to do was understand the yearning of ethnic tribes for identity and self-rule.
Today the dismissed neo-conservative push for "regime change" is walking the halls of the White House.
The scenes now showing on our television screens of what is happening in Iraq appear eerily familiar.
Could what is happening with and in Iraq be a foreshadowing of what will be for Afghanistan?
From the Cornfield, we are in a hopeless situation with no chance of winning in the traditional sense.
We failed to accomplish what we set out to do. Contary to former President George W. Bush's pronouncement of "mission accomplished", we left Iraq with mission unaccomplished.
Now we are back with little hope that we can succeed.
When a people does not want to move beyond thousand-year old feuds, we are as helpless as those who tried to stop the Hatfields and McCoys.
Have we learned nothing from Viet Nam?