Echoes From Vietnam

Since I am old enough to personally remember the Vietnam war I am surprised how far we have strayed from the lessons of that war. As the Vietnam war wound down we promised ourselves we would only enter “good” wars we could win both militarily and politically and to not enter into “bad” wars we could not win either militarily or politically. That left a lot of wiggle room in the middle but from our Vietnam war experience the term, “limited” war, is both an oxymoron and a red flag. The first Iraq war was a good example of politicians and military leaders abiding by these lessons. We won the military war handily but had mixed results with political changes inside Iraq. The second Iraq war and the Afghanistan wars were less successful with the military and political objectives but at least we tried to win the hearts and minds of the people to a mutually beneficent cause. When we look at the proposed limited strike against Syria and the political plan to win the hearts of the Syrian people, this is a “bad” war. If this war is actually a campaign to counter a global Islamist insurgency then how do we pick a side? Do we help our terrorist friends in Al-Qaeda or Hamas? Is this another fourth generational war we are doomed to lose because our thinking is still stuck in the 1960’s? Similar to our problems trying to arbitrate Sunni-Shiite problems in Iraq, it is even less likely that the end game for this war will result in Syrian Sunni and Shiite people agreeing to a mutually beneficial political objective. Unfortunately for our politicians the American population know a “bad” war when they see one. It is ironic to hear John Kerry make the case to engage in this “bad” war. If anyone should know, Mr. Kerry should know that “bad” wars can make or dramatically shorten political careers. This is a war we need to walk away from.