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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vietnam Or Not....

Tonight at a wine dinner as the Cantonese conversation got louder and louder, and faced with a comment from one of my English language discussion partners who argues that Iraq is like Vietnam, how the conflict in the Middle-East is unwinnable and how we would be better off if we just nuked the whole region and let the chips fall where they may, I came across this interesting piece tonight.....
The leading Arab League states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, call Hezbollah's actions "inappropriate and irresponsible." This lessens the urgency of calls from the international community, whether the G8, UN, or EU, for a ceasefire. That lessened urgency creates something very precious indeed: a moment in time and space wherein Israel has the most fleeting of opportunities for decisive action against Hezbollah, an avowed foe, a terrorist organization, and a constant threat to the security of its populace.

Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear.
This is key to my argument, that in conducting war, one must be able and willing to vanquish an enemy. This is something that modern warfare eschews and most countries don't play to win but to create a standstill. This allows the defeated to regroup, re-arm and mobilize again after regrouping.

Most importantly that the writer argues, is that the war in Iraq has created risk to all parties in the region where those that were satisfied to battling to a standstill now realize that this calculus no longer appropriate. Most notably is that Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt stated in the recent Arab League emergency meeting that...
"The Saudi foreign minister, al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was '...criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.'' Faisal said, 'These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them.' . . . The Arab leaders are frightened that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next.'
So, a group of countries do not see that maintaining a offensive force on the border of Israel and using that force to attack is "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts." I have to admit, that this is something very new where the whole region used to participate in attacking Israel and getting their asses whooped every 10-15 years in the past. So, the pan Arabian axis of Arab weazeling has now been split and Israel is not longer the singular black force for them but also includes the bloodthirsty Islamist thugs and terrorists that threaten stability in the whole region. Elimination of Hezbollah, or similar organizations appears as if it is acceptable to least a portion of the political landscape in the Middle-East creating an opportunity for real change and a shift in the dynamics of the region. Additionally, due to this historic split, call for ceasefire and withdrawal will not be as strong or command attention of Israel as before giving Israel a window-of-opportunity to cleanup the Hezbollah mess to the best of their ability.
Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
- Sun Tzu
Iraq is not like Vietnam, the costs in monetary terms are less than 1% of GDP, a sustainable conflict for an economy of our size. The number of lives lost, despite being costly to the men and woman in arms and their families that sustained deaths and injuries, is nowhere near the tallies runup in Vietnam. Additionally, I argue that by changing the political landscape in the Middle-East is a task that had to be done at one point in time and the opportunity presented itself for radical intervention that may not have been available at a latter date.
"Be willing to lose a battle in order to win the war."--Life's Little Instruction Book; H Jackson Brown
Furthermore, Vietnam was just a battle in the multi-decade Cold War and despite what some coin as a defeat for America, I view as a necessary engagement to contain Russia and China from their expansionary policies of the 1960's. The 'Vietnam' conflict was due to take place at one point in time or another and who knows how that would have played out, either better or worse, in some other theater. One cannot win all battles in a war, and even in defeat, objectives and desirable outcomes can be achieved for the long-term. The US retained military might and influence in the Pacific for decades after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and this is something that we may see in Iraq and the Middle-East for decades going forward. AS Sun Tzu said and this is true of the conflicts that we faced in the past and Islamic conflict presently engaged in...
The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.


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