Diary

The One's false Vietnam illusions

I found The One’s invocation at West Point of the situation in Vietnam a generation ago like much or maybe even most of what he says– one of his many increasingly weak fabrications. I could go off on a riff just demolishing his entire description of why they supposedly bear no resemblence to each other– I mean, it’s not hard– but instead, I thought I’d pass along a few thoughts about a Stratfor analysis that demonstrates how in many key aspects the situation in Vietnam parallels our engagement in Afghanistan as it relates to the end game.

As Stratfor writes,

The core strategy adopted by Richard Nixon (not Lyndon Johnson) in Vietnam, called “Vietnamization,” saw U.S. forces working to blunt and disrupt the main North Vietnamese forces while the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) would be trained, motivated and deployed to replace U.S. forces to be systematically withdrawn from Vietnam.

… Nixon faced two points Obama now faces. First, the United States could not provide security for South Vietnam indefinitely. Second, the South Vietnamese would have to provide security for themselves. The role of the United States was to create the conditions under which the ARVN would become an effective fighting force; the impending U.S. withdrawal was intended to increase the pressure on the Vietnamese government to reform and on the ARVN to fight.

This is almost precisely what The One prescribed for us last night. In this case, Afghanis get the ARVN role and Pakistan is the stand-in for Cambodia. As we know, combined with the Democrat Congress cutting South Vietnam off at the knees after the US withdrawal, ARVN collapsed and not terribly long after our exit, Russian tanks went cruising through Saigon. In the immediate aftermath millions died in fleeing South Vietnam and in Pol Pot’s communist paradise. Truly, who can’t see this coming to pass again in a different venue?

Certainly, ARVN flopped and probably would have even if we’d continued to prop them up with arms and money. Why?

… the failure of the ARVN was not primarily due to hostility or even lack of motivation. Instead, it was due to a problem that must be addressed and overcome if the Afghanistation war is to succeed. That problem is understanding the role that Communist sympathizers and agents played in the formation of the ARVN.

By the time the ARVN expanded — and for that matter from its very foundation — the North Vietnamese intelligence services had created a systematic program for inserting operatives and recruiting sympathizers at every level of the ARVN, from senior staff and command positions down to the squad level. The exploitation of these assets was not random nor merely intended to undermine morale [sic]. Instead, it provided the NVA with strategic, operational and tactical intelligence on ARVN operations, and when ARVN and U.S. forces operated together, on U.S. efforts as well.

You don’t have to be von Clausewitz to see that this rotting-from-within will inevitably become an issue as we try to pull a hurry-up exit from Afghanistan. In fact, I’m giving even money that the al-Qaeda fifth column Democrats in Congress will cut Afghanistan off from the money teat even faster than their brethren cutoff South Vietnam in the 1970s.

The construction of an Afghan military is an obvious opportunity for Taliban operatives and sympathizers to be inserted into the force. As in Vietnam, such operatives and sympathizers are not readily distinguishable from loyal soldiers; ideology is not something easy to discern. With these operatives in place, the Taliban will know of and avoid Afghan army forces and will identify Afghan army weaknesses. Knowing that the Americans are withdrawing as the NVA did in Vietnam means the rational strategy of the Taliban is to reduce operational tempo, allow the withdrawal to proceed, and then take advantage of superior intelligence and the ability to disrupt the Afghan forces internally to launch the Taliban offensives.

Stratfor neatly sums up the reasons for the entire failure in advance,

The challenge lies in leveling the playing field by inserting operatives into the Taliban. Since the Afghan intelligence services are inherently insecure, they can’t carry out such missions. American personnel bring technical intelligence to bear, but that does not compensate for human intelligence. The only entity that could conceivably penetrate the Taliban and remain secure is the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This would give the Americans and Afghans knowledge of Taliban plans and deployments. This would diminish the ability of the Taliban to evade attacks, and although penetrated as well, the Afghan army would enjoy a chance ARVN never had.

But only the ISI could do this, and thinking of the ISI as secure is hard to do from a historical point of view. The ISI worked closely with the Taliban during the Afghan civil war that brought it to power and afterwards, and the ISI had many Taliban sympathizers. The ISI underwent significant purging and restructuring to eliminate these elements over recent years, but no one knows how successful these efforts were.

The ISI remains the center of gravity of the entire problem. If the war is about creating an Afghan army, and if we accept that the Taliban will penetrate this army heavily no matter what, then the only counter is to penetrate the Taliban equally. Without that, Obama’s entire strategy fails as Nixon’s did.

By never using the dreaded “V” word last night, The One signaled surrender in advance. It’s impossible to not draw the conclusion then that he doesn’t care about the safety of Americans. This has already been demonstrated many times over. The operant example here is persecuting CIA operatives for their efforts to keep us safe. Now given the zero morale level no doubt rampant in the agency what are the odds they can work effectively with the ISI? About fifteen minutes after the last American leaves Kabul, the executions will begin.

This is all neatly packaged up to be The One’s Vietnam. For those of us of a certain age, it’s obviously destined to be a gruesome rewrite of a tragedy already experienced.