Congress: Snatching defeat from victory?
Question: What impact do the cut-and-runners in Congress have on troop morale? Perhaps, the answer is best explained in terms of our experience in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, we could see the South Vietnamese were happy to be rid of the French; however, they did not want to live under communism like their brethren in North Vietnam. On the other hand, they did not like being caught in the middle of a Cold War tug-of-war.
For our part, we did not like being micro-managed by the President Johnson and Robert McNamara. Despite the micro-management handicap, the restrictive rules of engagement and the enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam itself, we, and our South Vietnamese allies had, by 1973, restored the status quo ante.
The annihilation of the Viet Cong during Tet 1968 (although falsely reported by the Sinistra Media as an allied defeat), our highly successful 1970 incursion into Cambodia, and President Nixon’s Christmas bombing of 1972 drove the North Vietnamese to the bargaining table in Paris. We had them on the ropes to the point the North Vietnamese agreed, in the Paris Accords of 1973, to let the South Vietnamese alone.
In Paris, we promised the South Vietnamese that we could come back and rescue them should the North Vietnamese break their promises and invade South Vietnam. But, as history records, the North Vietnamese invaded in 1975 and the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to honor our pledges. The victory we had won in Vietnam was given away on Capitol Hill.
Thus, two generations of military officers became hard-core Republicans. Meanwhile, during the decade it took to convert our enlisted ranks from mostly conscripted to 100-percent volunteers, the officer corps studied the lessons of Vietnam and evolved the doctrine and tactics which resulted in the lightening swift, post-9/11, victories in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In both cases, our military waged all-out war with zero micro-management from the Oval Office. But eight years of Clinton Administration budget cuts became evident when our all-volunteer forces proved too meager to pacify Iraq – a country the size of California.
While most Iraqis responded favorably to the end of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, the Sunni Islamic fascists (wanting to restore the Baathists to power), and the Shiite Islamic fascists (wanting impose an Iranian-controlled theocracy), have thrown cold water on the flickering flame of democracy in Iraq.
So, again, what about troop morale? As long as the troops know their Commander-in-Chief plans for them to be successful, the troops just see the cut-and-runners in Congress as merely doing what Congress does best: pander and posture.
But Congress is making it difficult for our ambassadors and flag officers in the Middle East to be taken seriously. In short: while our troops are both feared and respected, the lack of resolve on Capitol Hill makes a joke of our foreign policy.
Meanwhile, Iran -- the real enemy in Iraq -- has fallen on hard times. So much so, the Saudis who, earlier, feared an Iranian-controlled Iraq, are saying it is okay for U.S. ground forces to leave the region.
The Iranian capture of British sailors in international waters reflects Iran’s need to deflect world attention from recent setbacks which include: The assassination of its leading nuclear scientist by the Mossad, the defection of a top Iranian official to the CIA, the capture of five top Iranian officials inside Iraq, the unanimous vote of the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran for Iran’s burgeoning nuclear arms program and the apparent perfection of Israel’s anti-missile defense system.
Meanwhile, President Bush has aircraft carriers USS Stennis and Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf with carriers USS Reagan, Nimitz, Enterprise and Truman operating nearby. Lurking unseen, are our submarines. Moreover, the troop surge in Baghdad has driven the Iranian-controlled cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, into hiding.
Even so, unless the American public tells the Congressional Democrats to knock it off, they will likely succeed in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Retired Army officer, William Hamilton, served two years in Vietnam. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.
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