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Thu

23

Aug

2007

Vietnam By Dummies (Prof. G.W. Bush Lecturing)
Thursday, 23 August 2007 02:28
by Stephen P. Pizzo

President Bush finally got something right by comparing the US war in Iraq with the disastrous US war in Vietnam. After five years of denying there were any similarities at all, Bush lectured us on the lessons he says we should have learned from that war and apply them to Iraq.

So far so good. Trouble is the lesson Bush suggested we should learn from our failure in Vietnam four decades ago goes something like this:

We cut and ran in Vietnam. We let our allies down. We allowed a rag tag group of insurgents to win against the great American military. And that's why we're in the mess we're in today. Our enemies today, another group of rag tag insurgents called al-Qaeda – have been emboldened by our retreat from Vietnam.

Therefore, Bush posits, we must stay the course in Iraq, no matter how bleak the situation becomes. Because, to do otherwise would be to reinforce our enemy's belief that the US lacks staying power and has no stomach for taking casualties. That in turn will encourage them to cause trouble throughout the region and to even launch attacks against the American homeland itself... or as Bush claims, if we don't fight them in Iraq, we'll have to fight them right here in the US of A.

Of course no well-read (or sane) person would draw such lessons from Vietnam. In fact, had Bush and Congress had heeded the real lessons of Vietnam they would have scoffed at the idea of putting tens of thousands of US combat troops on the ground in the heart of the Middle East.

(Note: Few will also miss the bitter irony of being lectured on “the lessons of Vietnam” by a guy who spent that war hiding out in the Texas Air National Guard, drinking beer and malingering by skipping out on monthly drills. (It was good to be the son of a powerful Texas congressman.)

Those of us who lived through the Vietnam era, or have since studied declassified documents from the Johnson and Nixon administrations, have walked away with much different lessons:

Super-power status is meaningless against a enemy fighting on and for their own land and willing to incur and take unlimited casualties.
  1. Puppet governments set up under foreign occupying forces are viewed by their own people as illegitimate and therefore cannot govern.
  2. The hurdle for an occupying army is very high – they need to win. The hurdle for an indigenous insurgency is much more achievable – they simply need to not lose.
  3. When the vast majority of Americans cease to support a foreign war, that war is lost – period.
  4. Retreat from Vietnam did not result in a “domino effect,” in the region, as threatened.
  5. When we retreated from Vietnam the Viet Cong did not “follow us home.”
  6. Our retreat from Vietnam did not result in permanent estrangement, just the opposite.
  7. The only Vietnamese who “followed us home,” were refugees who have since become among some of the most highly educated and successful American citizens.
George W. Bush learned none of the real lessons of the Vietnam War. Because Bush and his Neo-con co-dependents insulated themselves from the those lessons by soaking their gray matter in the Koolaide of denial – that it was the “liberal media” and “liberals in Congress,” that cut the ground from under our troops. In other words, as far as Bush et al are concerned, we didn't lose in Vietnam, we cut and ran before the job was done. They surely believe to this day that, had we only stuck with it a few more months, surged a few more times, that we would have won. The light was right there they say, at the end of that tunnel – a tunnel that never itself seemed to have not end.

And if you believe that, then I have a war in the Middle East to sell ya.

We've gone through so many iterations of the Bush doctrine with Iraq that I've lost the thread. But this appears to be a whole new version of the Bush doctrine: Never give up. Never admit defeat no matter how many soldiers are dying each week (especially since none of them are related to you.) Keep fighting.... no matter the cost in treasure or to our nation's soul. Because, as long as we keep fighting no one can say we lost. No one can say we cut and ran.

It's not a new idea. In fact it's just a reworked version of the military doctrine of another George... George Custer.
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What a coward is best at SELLING OUT

Taliban, US in new round of peace talks
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - The few weeks between the visits to Pakistan of Richard Boucher, the US assistant secretary of state who left last week, and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who arrives on September 10, could prove crucial in determining the fate of Afghanistan.

This is the timeline for secret three-party talks to establish teega (a Pashtu word for a peace deal that resolves a conflict) between the Western coalition forces in Afghanistan (with Pakistan), the



Afghan government, and the anti-coalition insurgents of Afghanistan. The first round of talks has already begun in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, Asia Times Online has learned.

The outcome of the talks will to a large extent decide the agenda of Negroponte's visit and the course of the US-led "war on terror" in the region.

The talks are based on previous Pakistan-inspired efforts to secure peace deals between the insurgents and the Western coalition in specific areas in Afghanistan with the longer-term goal of incorporating the Taliban into the political process both in Kabul and in provincial governments.

Similar deals were struck last year in the southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul and Urzgan, but they lapsed. In addition to reviving these, the talks aim to include the southeastern provinces of Kunar and Khost. The negotiators are Taliban commanders, Pakistani and American intelligence members, and Afghan authorities.

The Taliban, under the command of Mullah Mansoor (brother of the legendary Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in battle this year), are in Satellite town, Quetta, to talk of teega. The next rounds are scheduled for Peshawar, the provincial capital of North-West Frontier Province, and in the Waziristan tribal areas with Taliban commanders of the southeastern provinces.

Specifically, the deals aim to stop violence in selected areas and give the Taliban limited control of government pending the conclusion of a broader peace deal for the country and the Taliban's inclusion in some form of national administration.

The Taliban and coalition forces struck limited ceasefire deals last year in Kandahar and Helmand provinces (see the Asia Times Online series In the land of the Taliban of December 2006). These included the districts of Musa Qala, Baghran, Nawzad, Sangeen, Kajaki and Panjwai. However, to preempt the Taliban's planned massive uprising this year, coalition forces ended the ceasefires last December and engaged the Taliban in conflict.

As a result, the Taliban changed their plan and diverted to the northwestern areas of Farah and Badghis and also increased their activities in Ghazni, Kunar, Gardez, Khost and Nangarhar. Instead of face-to-face battles, as in the successful spring offensive of 2006, they refined their tactics in asymmetric warfare and carried out targeted actions, especially on development projects.

Rebuilding peace - and pipelines
Coalition efforts in Afghanistan include substantial development and reconstruction projects, but these have been hampered by the insurgency. A key project is a regional oil and gas pipeline project worth US$10 billion that will run from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan, the TAP, and possibly on to India, on which work is to be started in the near future.

A US company, International Oil Co (IOC), recently won the contract from Pakistan to construct the 2,200-kilometer pipeline over the next three years. In a statement, IOC said matters relating to security in Afghanistan and insurance guarantees had been finalized. The preferred route is the southern one, via Herat and restive Kandahar province.

Clearly, peace deals with the Taliban would help ensure the viability of such projects. But whether any deals struck will last is another matter. Taliban leader Mullah Omar is still not entirely behind them, and there is always the issue of al-Qaeda stirring trouble.

In the short term, though, the Taliban are likely to embrace the idea - provided they are given the realistic carrot of political gains - as they are in the process of refining a new command structure and need the breathing space.

However, many commanders based in the southeast are convinced that it would be a big blunder for the Taliban to slow down their activities for the sake of any deal. Instead, they want to seize this opportunity and drive for a bigger bargain, such as the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The West's perception
Contrary to the Cold War era's Central Asian focus, Afghanistan is now seen in terms of the South Asian region, especially with regard to the struggle between Pakistan and India for strategic political and economic influence.

The ultimate goal now is to shut down this war theater, which has bred global militancy, so that initiatives such as the TAP can go ahead. TAP is the US alternative to a planned pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India.

Similarly, Western intelligence is convinced that Taliban and al-Qaeda assets in Pakistan are the root cause of the Taliban's insurgency in Afghanistan, as confirmed in the United States' latest National Intelligence Estimate. Thus nothing could be gained by fighting a lone battle in Afghanistan's mountainous fastness.

So Pakistan was warned this year to eliminate the safe havens of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Islamabad was provided with a map of their assets and asked for an action plan. It was emphasized that coalition troops across the border in Afghanistan would be ready to take care of all "voids" Pakistan was not able to deal with in its own territory. But the Taliban have since left most of their known bases in Pakistan. (See Taliban a step ahead of US assault, Asia Times Online, August 11, 2007.)

The US now accepts that Pakistan still has access to and influence with the Taliban, unlike the government in Kabul. This realization eventually prompted Washington to sponsor the recent Pakistan-Afghanistan peace jirga (council) in Kabul to identify new players in the game before the "war on terror" enters a new phase in which the battlefield includes both Pakistan and Afghanistan, rather than Afghanistan alone.

The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban on Pakistani soil are a continuation of this process.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IH21Df03.html
 
August 24, 2007 | url
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