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Ed Webb

The Varnish of Vietnam | Foreign Policy - 2 views

  • Thirty years after the fall of Saigon, a new generation of policy-makers ignored the lessons of Vietnam and decided it would make fine policy and good politics to carry out regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq, to win those hearts and minds, to fight the insurgents, and to build democracy in sandy soil. They sent off a new generation — of professionals, not conscripts — to do the job, to the cheers of the home crowd and with the encouragement of the vast majority of the Congress, eager for vengeance, even if Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

    Once again, policy failed. We are now living with the unanticipated consequence of that war — widespread regional instability and conflict. And we have lost more than 6,700 soldiers with roughly 50,000 wounded Americans, along with another large number of post-combat stress disordered lives.

  • Leadership is not about "doing something." Leadership is not about "striking back." Leadership is about wisdom, knowing what you can change and what you cannot change. And it’s about speaking that truth in a clear, intentional way. American air strikes may save some Kurdish lives; they may defer the day the Iraqi government has to deal with its dysfunction; they may extend Basher al-Assad’s day of reckoning.

    But all they buy is time — and not a lot of time, at that.

    The real resolution of the mayhem in the Middle East is not in the hands of the United States.
    The real resolution of the mayhem in the Middle East is not in the hands of the United States. Striking IS, and failing to "destroy" them (a politically-chosen objective, if ever there was one) may lead, inexorably, to the commitment of more capability, resources, and, yes, American ground troops. It’s kind of a setup — in for a dime, in for a dollar; another broom, please.

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