Of Kabul & Tet & Generals


By Conn Hallinan, ZNet, Sept. 18, 2011
Source: Dispatches From the Edge

“Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like the light at the end of a tunnel”

–Gen. Henri Navarre, commander French forces in Vietnam, May 20, 1953

“A new phase is starting…we have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view…there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

–Gen. William Westmoreland, commander U.S. forces in Vietnam, November 1967

“Yesterday’s attack [in Kabul] was a fleeting event; it came and it went. The insurgents are on the defensive.” The performance of Afghan security forces should tell Afghans “they can sleep well at night.”

–Gen. John Allen, North Atlantic Treaty Commander in Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2011

Dear Lord, what is about generals that seem to make them so particularly immune to history’s lessons?

Gen. Navarre had a sure-fire plan to draw the Vietnamese insurgents into a great battle that would end the war. Worked like a charm. On May 7, 1954 the French army surrendered at Dien Bien Phu.

In November 1967, Gen. Westmoreland was making the rounds in Washington, talking up “body counts” and “pacification,” and how the U.S would have this little matter in Vietnam wrapped up pretty quickly. Ten weeks later, on Jan.31, 1968, the National Liberation Front and the North Vietnamese launched the Tet offensive that put the U.S. Embassy in Saigon under siege, seized the city of Hue, and shattered the myth that the U.S. was winning the war in Vietnam.

And now Gen. Allen says the attack on Kabul indicates the Taliban are on their last legs.

Continues >>

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