Monday, April 25, 2011

Will Libya be America’s next Vietnam?

Not so long ago I remember comparing then President’s George W. Bush entry into Afghanistan as being another Vietnam. It had no direction and unfortunately under the current administration, although it has instruction, it still is going every which way but loose. Now I remember Vietnam, seeing news every day of mangled bodies of young American soldiers barely out of high school fighting in mangrove swamps and being carried out mortally wounded on large helicopters, just as I remember the day we watched the draft and saw the birthday of my uncle, October 28, the only male in my family, listed on the draft board on television. He was lucky, being the only male he was not taken in the draft.

The actions in Libya began at a certain start date, albeit Bush and Rice made new in roads in the earlier part of this decade that may have contributed to what Obama has implemented to date. Such was not true for Vietnam, seeing that the US entered that war incrementally, in a series of steps between 1950 and 1965. President Harry S. Truman, in May 1950, authorized economic and military aid to the French, who were fighting to retain control of their Indochina colony, which was comprised of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

But the Vietnamese Nationalist defeated French forces at Dienbienphu in 1954, which led the French to create a non-Communist entity south of that line. Since the United States refused to accept this, President Dwight D. Eisenhower went into nation building mode that became South Vietnam. Similar to what the US and NATO are doing with taking the sides of the rebels in Libya.

Although not on the record, like then, we and other nations have sent military advisers to help the country’s rebels. Thus far to date, the NATO no-fly zone has failed to both protect citizens and aid the rebels. Both, similar to our first entrance into Vietnam where we intervened in the middle of civil war. The reason we lost in Vietnam was due to not have lucid goals and objectives and a lack of confidence in our mission in southeastern Asia. The same can be asserted for the current Libya policy where we have no goal and worse, do not even know who we are supporting.

What is evident is eerily similar to 1961, when President John F. Kennedy secretly sent 400 Green Beret soldiers to teach the South Vietnamese how to fight against Communist guerrillas in South Vietnam. By the time of his death in November 1963, there were more 16,000 U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam.

The lesson that Obama and our politicians should take is that history is the best teacher. After Kennedy was killed and Lyndon Johnson began became President, the incessant bombing of North Vietnam increased and Johnson sent the Marines to South Vietnam in 1965. Although Johnson had intended to fight a limited war, he did not expected that the North Vietnamese would be able to hold out long against the American military.

To date our air campaign has had little effect against Moammar Khadafy. And if we make the mistake of assuming that airpower will get him out singularly, we are wrong and will be in line for a long term stalemate. It is just strange to that after all these years have passed since we first jumped into Vietnam, we have yet to figure out policy that match our political and military goals under such circumstances. Baffles the mind, doesn’t it?

9 comments:

rainywalker said...

In theory I don't believe this will happen. It's very likely we will have an empty treasury soon or loose the dollar as the worlds backup currency.

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