[Marxism] An old interview with US Vietnam General William Westmoreland, or why this war is more dangerous
M. Junaid Alam
junaidalam at msalam.net
Sun Aug 29 18:21:07 MDT 2004
I came across this in my research of trying to find out what the Vietnam
war was about from the perspective of the American planners abd, I think
it is really strikingly relevant these days.
*"On fighting a limited war:*
Well, that was a major problem. At the outset, the president made the
statement that he would not geographically broaden the war, and that
meant that military actions were confined to the territory of South
Vietnam. The enemy was not operating under such restraints, and
therefore over the years the border area of Cambodia and Laos were used
freely by the enemy. But by virtue of the policy of my government, we
could not fight the overt war or deploy military troops overtly into
those countries. And that was a major problem. A major problem....
"I think one has to understand what our objective was. The objective in
Washington was to raise the cost of the war from the standpoint of the
enemy, to the point that he would come to some negotiated settlement.
The attitude of the enemy was not comparable to what our attitude would
have been under the circumstances. He was ready, willing and able to pay
a far greater price than I would say we Caucasians would. ..".
In my opinion there is something startling about this looking at today's
war: in America, the public political mood is not one that can stomach
mass casualties and expansion of the war. But ideologically, among the
neocons, expansion of the war is a necessary means of winning it. This a
disastrous mixture. People fighting in some strange foreign place
because they have to in order to pay for college and their families at
home are never going to want to take this war to the maximalist
conclusions, but neoconservatism demands it: total war on every part of
the Muslim world that raises its head must be waged in order to stoke
the threat of Islamism it is purportedly aimed at destroying in the
first place. No one familiar with neocon thought denies this is the
strategy. It is essentially the Likud strategy against the Palestinians
writ large. This leaves me wondering if today a General Westmoreland
will find himself faced with superiors who will be as adamant on not
extending the theater of operations in this war. This time around,
perhaps you don't have to burn a village to save it; you burn the whole
countryside to make the burning of the village appear negligible.
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