[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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