Carol Platt Liebau: It's Not Vietnam, Stupid

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's Not Vietnam, Stupid

Mark Moyar, an expert on Vietnam, explains why the analogies being offered by Democrats between the Iraq and Vietnam wars rest on an ignorance of history and a fundamental misconception of a commander's role.

Moyar points out the obvious: If an army thinks it will lose, it will lose. It's not deception or a pernicious optimism that leads generals to emphasize the positive; it's a basic understanding of human psychology.

10 Comments:

Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Your comment confuses identity with analogy. Yes, the war in Iraq is not identical to the war in Vietnam -- but it is certainly analogous. An analogy implies only that there exist similarities between the two items compared. Vietnam has many analogies with Iraq. In both cases, American troops were fighting on foreign soil. In both cases, they were fighting an insurgency. And so on.

To make valid use of an analogy, one must demonstrate that the similarities are closely related to the conclusion one wishes to draw. In other words, if you want to show that Trait A of Iraq will end up similar to Trait A of Vietnam, then you have to show that Traits B, C, D... of Iraq are similar to Traits B, C, D... of Vietnam, and that there are logical associations between Trait A and Traits B, C, D...

To challenge an analogy, one must show that there is little logical association between Trait A and Traits B, C, D...

Yes, victory in warfare is obtained not by killing off the enemy but by convincing him that he has lost. This does not, however, imply that you can will yourself to victory. If the military realities are against you, then the situation will deteriorate whatever your state of mind.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Well, if the role of Generals is to lie and say things are going very well, then Bush shouldn't lie by saying they will give an honest assessment of the conditions on the ground. The Republicans shouldn't run around saying see the surge is working because the General says it is so. And the public should rightly be skeptical and desire real facts and numbers.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Maher: "Isn't a dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job?"

Hagel: It's not only a dirty trick, but it's dishonest, it's hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is this is not Petraeus' policy; it's Bush's policy. The military is -- certainly very clear in the Constitution -- is subservient to the elected public officials of this country... but to put our military in a position that this administration has put them in is just wrong, and it's dangerous."

11:47 AM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

If an army thinks it will lose, it will lose.

Hmmm... the superpower of positive thinking.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

And Hagel knows better because...?

9:34 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yes, Chepe, at some level or another every war ever faught in the history of mankind has some analogous similarity to every other war ever faught in the history of mankind. - Brilliant!

I have a question for you concerning this statement:

"Yes, victory in warfare is obtained not by killing off the enemy but by convincing him that he has lost."

Why, then, have the Democrats been trying so hard for so long to convince the American public that the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq? Is it because they see this as a means to achieving victory themselves? Does it matter that, in this case, victory for Democrats EQUALS victory for the enemies of the United States of America?

7:58 AM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

The right-wing governance manual taken from children's lyrics:

To take a lesson from the little engine that could
Just think you can
Just think you can
Just have that understood
And very soon you'll start to say
I always knew I could
I knew I could
I knew I could
I knew I could
I knew I could
I knew I could
I knew I could, yeah!

9:41 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Greg asks,

Why, then, have the Democrats been trying so hard for so long to convince the American public that the U.S. has lost the war in Iraq?

I can't speak for anything so amorphous as "the Democrats", but I can speak for myself. From the time the first rumors of an attack on Iraq began in the summer of 2002, I claimed that no invasion of Iraq could succeed. Sure we could easily defeat Saddam's forces, but we would just as certainly lose the occupation. I believe that I have earlier presented my reasoning. And guess what? Things have been working out pretty much as I predicted. There was a ray of hope in the immediate aftermath of the invasion -- had Mr. Bush taken some dramatic and risky diplomatic steps, he might have been able to assemble an Arabic force to occupy Iraq as part of a grand Middle East settlement. But he didn't and now that opportunity is lost.

The war was lost the day Mr. Bush decided to fight it. Everything else has been just a matter of walking down the path to the inevitable.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

So you're saying that Sunnis siding with Americans to fight against Al Qaeda was an inevitable part of your prediction? And Shias siding with Americans to fight against Al Qaeda was also an inevitable part of your prediction?

Were you also among those who predicted that millions of Iraqis would risk their lives to vote in elections that many said could not happen, at least not on time, on three seperate occasions?

Were you one of those who predicted that after 9/11 and especially after the United States invaded Iraq that no major terrorist attack would be successfully completed inside the United States for over 6 years?

Perhaps you predicted that Lybia would change its ways and surrender its nuclear ambitions to the will of the rest of the world?

Man, Chepe, you are some Nostradamus, aren't you?

7:30 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Greg, you certainly have a vivid imagination. No, I did not predict any of the things you imagine, because there was no solid historical basis for such a prediction. My certainty that the invasion of Iraq would be disastrous was based on familiarity with history and the sociology of the region. Iraq is an artificial nation cobbled together from three very different groups: Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds. Historically, none of these groups have cohabited peacefully. More important, at no time in the 5,000 years of Mesopotamian history has there been a functioning rule of law. Combine this with some basic knowledge of the evolution of the rule of law and you can't help but come to the conclusion that the only outcome of an American invasion of Iraq will be the establishment of a new dictatorship, probably Shia, probably relying heavily on Iranian support.

It really is quite obvious to any person familiar with the history of these things. I was certainly not alone in this expectation; most people familiar with this stuff reached exactly the same conclusion.

8:57 PM  

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