In my earlier posting F**k if they do, f**k if they don’t I discussed President Bush’s admittance that the deteriorating situation Iraq has become somewhat like those of Vietnam during the American occupation there in the 60’s and 70’s, where the US lost more than 55,000 dead in its 10-year war.
A visitor Ranger wrote in to present his opinion as to why he disagrees with the Iraq-Vietnam parallel. I appreciate his well written piece but we all have our own opinions, which is why I have rustled up, admittedly hastily, a off the cuff response. Initially I thought of just responsing to his comments in the earlier posting, but I reckon it's worth a posting on its own. Maybe some of you more knowledgeable people may want to add on your views ;-)
There are many parallels. While there is no “North Vietnam” or its “regulars” equivalent in Iraq, there are neighbouring “sanctuaries” and the former Baathist-dominated army. One mistake the Americans made, and a huge one, was to fight Iraq in 2003 like they did a decade before that when they then pulverised Saddam Hussein’s military.
That was why they (or Defence Secretary Rumsfeld) overly believed in and depended on the “shock & awe” concept couple with a blitzkrieg sweep into Baghdad, using only a light mobile land force – they were some 300,000 less in land force strength than they ought to have been.
This so-called Rumsfeld doctrine was in fact influenced by the US horrendous experience in Vietnam. So, even in the planning for the invasion of Iraq, the dark cloud of Vietnam hung over the Americans’ head. Rumsfeld thought he would minimise involvement of ground forces, depending mainly on the “shock & awe” to win the battle (but unfortunately not the war). Surely as a ranger, Ranger, you don’t expect the war (or occupation) to be won solely by air power?
Therein lies part of their current problem.
The other part has been the obduracy of Rumsfeld (backed by Cheney) who refused to acknowledge his poor strategy, which was aggravated by the Administration's ill-defined objective (so how to “maintain” when it’s not well “selected”), an inadequate ground force by as much as a quarter million men (virtually admitting his terrible mistake) or make amends. Rumsfeld was afraid of reinforcing the public’s perception of his mistake and, through pouring in of more men, reminding Americans of another ‘Vietnam’.
On the Iraqi side, unlike the Americans, they learnt from their disaster in the 1st Gulf War. They refused to fight the US on the latter’s terms, namely a conventional war. Saddam (or his advisors) made arrangements to disperse the elite Republican Army as loosely-connected independently-led smaller groups of insurgents. These aren’t to be confused with the al Qaeda movements, the latter only taking advantage of the chaos to come in much later (uninvited by the Iraqis) to install a presence in Iraq.
Please read my earlier posting Vietnam Haunts the USA but Inspires Iraq.
Similar to the USSR and China (and many other communist countries) supporting Vietnam, many Muslim nations are also supporting the Iraqi insurgents, although in the latter case, there is an additional issue of the Sunni-Shiite divide. But you may bet that Saudi Arabia, for selfish reasons caused by fear of an encroaching Shiite “crescent”, is (note the present tense) the main supporter of the Sunnis while Iran supports the other side. They may fight each other (adding to the chaos and impossibility of a stable Iraqi state) but they also target the Yanks and allies.
I do not accept the American-stated arguments that the current utterly horrendous insurgency situation, albeit participated by multiple groups with different objectives and allegiance, aren’t administered by a central authority. Yes, there are peripheral groups which don’t have a central command. But in some better organised groups like the (former Baathist) Sunnis and the southern Shiite groups, they woudl be led by their respective central command.
That they don’t operate like the Vietnamese doesn’t mean they aren’t led like so. Bearing in mind the modern electronic environment and the American dominance of it, those insurgents aren’t exactly ignorant of this factor, nor going to oblige and allow the Yanks to paint a picture of their organisation(s) through intelligence gathering of the air waves. New age, new technology, new insurgent tactics.
As I said, the Iraqis have learnt from previous lessons, including others. Why then would they indulge in a Tet-like offensive if that was disastrous? Besides, the observation of the Vietnam similarity was more in reference to the Vietcong-like insurgency rather than conventional warfare (Tet). An additional point is the insurgents, being insurgents, don't have conventional forces and they don't want to participate in conentional warfare.
Again, you cannot draw parallels between the current Iraqi quagmire and the Gulf War I campaign to regain Kuwait. In the earlier war, George Bush Senior conducted a well planned political campaign prior to the invasion to ensure the majority of the Arab world was on his side. His son didn’t and in fact had the greater part of the World (not just the Arab one) against him.
The father had a well defined limited objective – he just recovered Kuwait and didn’t charge into Baghdad, nor did he leave troops in Iraq after he had achieved his objective; his invasion forces were well marshalled and more than adequate. OTOH, his son had no clear objective nor plans for an occupation, nor the commensurate forces to implement whatever nebulous scheme he and his strategists had in mind, and he ignored the only bloke who had the experience and know-how to make it work, namely Colin Powell.
He relied instead on a bunch of Vietnam draft dodgers, and most dangerously, blokes who were Zionist-Israeli lobbyists, where the last had an entirely different objective of their own (of course for the US to carry out, without the US being any wiser), namely the plain destruction of Saddam’s military and the fragmentation of Iraq as a viable threat to Israel (they want that also for Iran – re Iran please read WMD Lies - Version II).
This last group wasn’t/isn't interested in a stable cohesive Iraq. They weren’t going to get rid of Saddam to have another (and worse for them) better Iraqi leader administer a powerful Iraq to pose a future threat to Israel. Please read Rumsfeld Incompetence & Iraq's Civil War.
For more of the Cheney-Rumsfeld influence on President Bush please read also my posting Iraq War - Colin Powell Revealed Some Facts.
So, I disagree with Ranger's analysis that the insurgency situation in Iraqi is unlike Vietnam. Throw in a hostile local populace (Sunnis or Shiites) and a corrupt pro-US regime and sheer corruption on the American side, and hey presto, the picture is almost complete.
What is still lacking, or rather, not strong yet thus far are two elements, namely (1) the fierce domestic anti-war movement in America but which is surely growing each day, and (2) a generally sceptical American press, which like the anti-war movement, is indeed getting disenchanted with the Bush Administration.
Already we read of former State Secretary Bakar alluding to bringing in a member of Bush’s Axis of Evil, Iran and Bush’s terrorist state, Syria to help ameliorate the Iraqi situation. Another “Kissinger in Paris?”
I invite Ranger and other readers to read my analysis of the American problem in Iraq, and why I had believe they would lose the war in my earlier posting Driving the Sea to the Fishes! (2)
(1) Iraq: Vietnam II?
(2) Why Terrorism Will Continue?
(3) Appeasement? Absolutely Not!
(4) Terrorism: What Goes Around Comes Around
(5) Heartland of America Traumatised by Casualties in War
(6) Dilemma of the three 'D's
(7) Desperate Bush Dragging Out Smelly Old Lie
(8) US Kills For Democracy & Liberty
(9) US & Israel - Re-Entering Vietnams
(10) Another My Lai!
(11) 100 insurgent attacks per day on Coalition forces in Iraq