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Scheduling conflicts

During the 20th century, the United States was involved in five major conflicts: World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and the first Gulf War.

World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles, which included heavily punitive measures and ruinous reparations against Germany. The dissatisfaction of the German people was a major factor in the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement less than a decade later.

World War II ended with the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan, and both countries were occupied while they were rebuilt into functional, successful democracies that are now two of our greatest allies.

The Korean War ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire that was never followed with a permanent treaty. Thus fifty years later we still have two nations still at war glaring at each other across a heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, occasionally exchanging minor skirmishes.

The Viet Nam War ended with the Paris Peace Accords, which ended the fighting between the North and South and included a rigid timetable for US forces to withdraw. Barely two years after the Accords were signed and US forces withdrew, North Vietnam invaded and conquered South Vietnam.

The first Gulf War ended with Iraq's accepting the United Nations' terms of surrender and agreeing to considerable restrictions to assure they would not initiate hostilities at any time in the near future. There were some reparations and economic sanctions, but the main focus was on stripping Saddam of his most potent offensive weaponry -- including his rather extensive stocks of biological and chemical weapons and his nuclear research, covering the N-B-C trifecta of "weapons of mass destruction."

That brings us to today, and our second major conflict of the 21st century (what I like to refer to as "the Iraq campaign of the War on Terror.") Of the five resolutions to war listed above, which most closely resembles the left's plan for ending matters?

The Viet Nam model is the plan you follow when you are losing, or expecting to lose, or don't care if you win or lose, or don't have the will to win. It is the international equivalent of saying "I cared enough to fight for a while, but no more. It's not my concern any more."

The North Vietnamese knew when they signed the Paris Accords that they had merely postponed their victory, and made it easier on whole orders of magnitude. We spelled out exactly when we would be leaving, and what we would do if they resumed the fight. All they had to do was wait for the right balance of factors between their own preparedness and the weakness of the South's government, and then strike without fear of our intervening again. Less than two years later, that plan came to fruition, and the Paris Peace Accords were unmasked as the patently bogus fraud they were from the instant they were signed.

The key to ending a war is to either make it impossible or unnecessary or too damned costly to resume the hostilities. And when the terms of ending that war are marked on a calendar, and not by events or conditions, then all it does is make the resumption of the war a matter of marking the appropriate dates on the calendar.

Comments (9)

Jay:Nice Post!... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:


Nice Post!

The only thing you left out, was that all decissions are now governed by politics. I have always put Nixon in the worst presidents category, not because he lied, but because he didn't immediately bomb the hell out of N. VietNam.

That is a very sobering and... (Below threshold)

That is a very sobering and scary analysis.

I'd reframe this to point o... (Below threshold)

I'd reframe this to point out that in all five of your 20th century wars, plus Grenada, since it applies as well, we left after the end of 'major offensive operations' and, for the most part, pulled our troops home. The issue is whether we left the force to keep things from turning sour once we leave. For example, wWe did so after Korea, where South Korea hasn't been invaded in 50 plus years, in Grenada, where they haven't gone communist and after Gulf I, where Kuwait and Saudi Arabia weren't reinvaded by Hussein after the ceasefire in 91.

While Vietnam did fall after we left, Iraq II is not Vietnam. The analogy would/could work if the South Vietnamese were facing only the Viet Cong (internal guerilla force backed by outsiders). There isn't a NVA attacking Iraq, sitting right outside the border waiting for us to leave.

If you want to draw a parallel, I'd suggest using WWI, where we pulled out and left Germany to the point where Hitler sprung up. Had we interjected ourselves here and there, we could have kept Hitler from coming to power and/or he never would have been given the opportunity to rebuild Germany's military and/or threaten his neighbors... and we could have interjected ourselves for a fraction of the cost in lives and money that we ended up spending fighting WWII.

Which.... is a long way of getting to my long argued point that we didn't need to spend the last three years and 2,000 lives hanging around in Iraq. We could have (and should have) pulled our troops out of Iraq shortly after capturing Hussein and making sure there were no WMDs. We could have kept force in the neighborhood, watched what was happening and repeated the cleansing exercise if and when we felt it necessary. Keep in mind we spent a fraction in lives and money getting rid of Hussein than we have in the following years. Think of how many kids could still have their dads around had we not embarked on George's-not-so-excellent democracy building adventure. Let the Iraqis kill one another... if that's what they want to do. I don't - and a whole lot of Americans, both conservative and liberal, don't want American lives being lost to keep the Iraqis from killing one another. Let's save our powder for the situations that warrant it.

And by the way, this is not an endorsement of the liberal line that our being in Iraq has made us less safe. Our government and military can walk and chew gum at the same time. They can deal with the terror threat at the same time they deal with Iraq... I just don't want them dealing with Iraq.

Excellent summation of thes... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Excellent summation of these conflicts. Why did you leave the Cold War out? We engaged in an arm's race that took us to the moon and nearly bankrupted both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Well written Steve(I hope t... (Below threshold)

Well written Steve(I hope that isn't a curse as it comes from me)the neighborhoods should and could have been, and still can be Kuwait and especially Afghanistan. We could have done so much there for less cost in lives and money.
Iraq is lost only in the sense that the "winning" has always been a shifting objective. If in fact it continued to be worth it, with a stated objective.."Stand up, Stand down is nonsence, our military would not be shrinking. Our troops on their 2nd and 3rd deployments are burning out and less effective.
Logical retreat takes place in all wars, yet here it is called "cut and run"...At the battle of Gettysburg, Pickett's insurgent troops didn't cut and run and what happened?

Drew,Your cowardice ... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

Your cowardice voice is the way to a 'cut and run' tactic.

We lost the Vietnam war pol... (Below threshold)

We lost the Vietnam war politically. It was headed down the tubes with LBJ's micromanagement, but once even Nixon was unwilling to take the political heat, domestic and international, to allow the military to just win it, it was over except for the niceties and Nobels.

The Cold War didn't come close to bankrupting the US. The USSR gained a dominant position in Europe and overall military superiority worldwide, and immediately began a peace offensive. Reagan didn't bite, reversed the trend of Democratic neglect of our defenses and interests, and pushed the USSR to the brink of bankruptcy.

Iraq is a completely different situation from anything we've faced before. In Vietnam, like in Iraq, there was a struggle financed by outside interests, but the belligerents there were only interested in getting us out. In Iraq, we are the target and will remain the target whether we leave or not.

Now, there may have been some point to toppling the regime and leaving, IF we were going into Iran and Syria. Those regimes will have to be changed, too, and the sooner the better. But it would be suicidal to withdraw from Iraq and "take a break."

It's a long war, and the end is not in sight. The whiners need to just shut the heck up. The total casualties in Iraq have only recently passed the worst day of WWII, and we aren't rationing sugar, tires, or gasoline. Cowboy up, America.

Jim,We lost the V... (Below threshold)
Red Fog:

We lost the Vietnam war politically
That's too broad at statement to argue. How about we lost Vietnam because the Vietnamese farmers are damn good killers.

The Cold War didn't come close to bankrupting the US.
No way. Carter's gift of stagflation led to Reaganomics or 'voodoo economics' wherein unprecidented deficit spending ($1.6 trillion military budget over five years in the 1980's) was used as an economic stimulus. I remember the recession of 1982 here in the Rust Belt with interest rates around 19% for a home mortgage. U.S. was in economic turmoil leading up the 1991 disbandment of the USSR. We had an outta control deficit in the 1980s ...

Hey, but I fully agree with the remainder of your post.

Jim and Red Fog: per my, an... (Below threshold)

Jim and Red Fog: per my, and I think, Jay's, post, we didn't lose Vietnam until we refused to help them after we pulled our ground troops out in (I believe) 73. Remember, our goal going in, to the extent there was a goal, was to keep the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong from taking over South Vietnam. This we did, up to the point where we stood and watched the North Vietnamese invade in 75. So it wasn't LBJ's micromanagement that lost Vietnam, unless you argue that his micromanagement set the stage for the Democrats, in the aftermath of Watergate, to cut off US military support to the South Vietnamese.... which I believe they would have done no matter how LBJ dealt with things while he was in office.






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