Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Vietnam again

Back in the 1980's many of us took up the slogan "El Salvador is Spanish for Vietnam". We were warning our fellow citizens against getting into a war of conquest based on lies from the government and exaggerated claims of a communist menace.

Now it's Iraq (and Iran may be next). The New Yorker's Iraq war coverage has been consistently excellent. Last week had an article by George Packer about the lessons of Tal Afar which focuses on a regiment commander whose Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina studied the American experience in Vietnam. Take a look at this:

His dissertation, based on research in newly declassified archives, was published in 1997, with the title “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.” The book assembled a damning case against senior military leaders for failing to speak their minds when, in the early years of the war, they disagreed with Pentagon policies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, knowing that Johnson and McNamara wanted uncritical support rather than honest advice, and eager to protect their careers, went along with official lies and a split-the-difference strategy of gradual escalation that none of them thought could work. “Dereliction of Duty” won McMaster wide praise, and its candor inspired an ardent following among post-Vietnam officers.

Is it just me, or is this starting to sound familiar?

You should read the whole article.

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