Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Orwell Envy II

I'm not sure if Hitch intends to come across so flippant when asserting that the foreign policy blunder of Vietnam-- and the experience of (Kerry) having fought in it-- cannot be instructive or useful to contemporary foreign policy issues. A reading of Hitches work over the past year will prove this assertion otherwise.

First, the threat of a Communist Indochina guided American decisions to commit troops to South Vietnam following France's withdrawal in 1954. Second, with the ideological precept that Communism was a total, brutal self-justify contagion, successive American administrations fatefully prosecuted what would become a stalemated war, with no long term strategy achieved. They had committed themselves to an intractable region laden with historical, cultural faults that were unwilling to submit to any plans of foreign, artificial unification.

Yes communism was a horrible and corrupted idea that manifested a grim reality. But this didn't constitute an automatic military engagement with fledging Communist regimes at every turn. While cold wars of ideology, diplomatic sanctions, and strategic maneuvering existed with the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cuba, hot wars like the Korean War and the Vietnam War ended inconclusively. Liberal democracy triumphed through tactics of both hot and cold wars; though it seems like a few of the hot wars or proxy wars (Afghanistan) seemed pointless.

This is essentially the point, I think, Hitchen’s implicitly makes: Pointless wars have their root in a weak vision of the Grand-Strategy. With all the political and diplomatic options available to a President in the prosecution of a war on Ideology, military force suffices as a strategy but can't be the be all and end all of The Grand Strategy. Military force cannot be an end in itself. The Vietnam War occurred because of a weak vision of the grand-strategy against international communism; the Iraq war has its parallels.

Today the War on Terror is our War of Ideology against what Hitchen’s aptly terms as Islamo-facism. On one military level it has been confronted but not vigorously and effectively fought: Afghanistan. On another strategic level it was either prosecuted too soon after Afghanistan was, in any way, viable; too poorly planed; and lacking in a vision of grand-strategy: Iraq.

The administration, Don Rumsfeld specifically, knows that it will be a long hard slog, so much so that their announcement of withdrawing troops from South Korea, Japan, Germany, and other location around the world signals their commitment to the ongoing War on terror—though somehow it is more likely that the intention is to have more available and mobile troops to fight hot wars. A grand-strategy is needed to fight an effective war on terror both militarily and ideologically. Weak vision and weak leadership will only lead to bad decisions and infeasible military commitments.

No comments: