DECLARING VICTORY AND MOVING ON-WHAT A HORRIBLE CONCEPT! By Kevin Anthony Stoda
During the Vietnam War era in the 1960s, several generals and military officers suggested to the President of the United States (and all Americans, including the military), "Let's declare victory and go home!"
I have asked myself over the years whether (psychologically or) orally declaring a victory when there is not a clear victory is a good procedure for America to ever follow.
EXAMPLE OF POST-VIETNAM ERA
As I studied the Vietnam War in the early 1980s in college, I thought at times, "What if people in the mid-1960s had simply taken the advice of these particular military leaders and got out of Vietnam much earlier on?"
I had speculated as follows.
"On the surface level," I saw, "It would seem to be a sign of maturity to clearly accept the facts when a nation lacked any further chances of great success. We had long overstayed our usefulness in Vietnam and its region in a series of battles that would leave two to four million people, mostly Southeast Asians, dead by 1975. A national acceptance of our needs (in America and abroad) to reduce future losses-i.e. in the mounting fruitless waste on energy, moneys and manpower-might be beneficial. Such a move seemed more mature than sticking it out simply because of hubris or misguided illusions of self."
One would then be forced to work better internationally with all of one's neighbors and countries around the world. This would mean respecting the ballot over the bullet when even our so-called enemies elected someone who rubbed us the wrong way.
Certainly, in retrospect, America would not have had to come home from Vietnam in 1975 with its tail between its legs, if agreements had been made to end the conflict earlier on. It is quite possible that by working out a deal with North Vietnam, America may have been able to have helped keep Laos and Cambodia from going Communist.
As America finally high-tailed it out of Southeast Asia in the mid-1970s, a great national malaise hit many people in the American society. (Not that Jimmy Carter won any accolades for diagnosing this fact.)
Worse still, military America of 1979 was not ready to fight the Soviets and rising Middle Eastern leaders' various power plays at that time-i.e. without increasingly allying itself with thugs in Central America and despots or dictators in the Middle East throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
From 1975 onwards, America neither used the immediate postwar period to rebuild its military in a way to avoid allowing major wars to take place for decades to come nor revised its practices and self-images in a way that would lead many other nations and peoples to respect our foreign businesses and diplomatic practices in many post-colonial regions of the world, e.g. in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iran, in parts of Saudi Arabia, etc.
In short, throughout the last 70 years American leaders time and again have been fighting the last wars due to failure to recognize facts on the ground. This strategy has been filled with errors (as well as poor international intelligence) and has been one of national avoidance and denial at opportunities to try to learn from mistakes.
In short, declaring victory and moving out is a delusion. The fact is that America sometimes faces limits on its human and natural resources.America today is not the America of the late 1940s when the U.S.A. possessed much of the world's oil, gold and economic hegemony.
Nor was America of the 1960s that sort of America, either. This obvious fact was missing from the American psyche of the 1960s and was still not fully understood after the Soviet Union collapsed. This is why America, since NATO first began to expand 11 years ago, was simply waltzing its way to what we saw in Georgia this month.