A reminder from General Giap

Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post has sounded out the military brass for echoes of Vietnam. The echoes lead the story but turn into a guarded optimism or contingent pessimism after the first half of this long piece: “Dissension grows in senior ranks on war strategy.”
The story notes the fact that the (left-wing) New York Review of Books is not a widely read magazine in the military, but that Peter Galbraith’s May 13 cover story has circulated via its online publication among some of the officers whom Ricks interviewed: “How to get out of Iraq.”
I coincidentally read Galbraith’s article yesterday and found it utterly compelling, especially in its explanation of the autonomy exercised by Iraqi Kurds in Kurdistan, including their own substantial military force. Galbraith suggests the unlikelihood that they will yield such autonomy to any foreseeable national authority. The piece is worth reading.
The Boston Globe uses the anniversary of Dien Bien Phu to sound a few more echoes of Vietnam: “Dien Bien Phu in the age of Iraq.” The author of the column attempts to elicit a stirring anti-American comment on the war in Iraq from General Giap, the legendary Vietnamese Communist military leader who defeated the French and the Americans.
General Giap responds: “Any forces wishing to impose their will on other nations will certainly face failure. All nations fighting for their own independence will certainly succeed.” The writer thinks Giap is vaguely condemning the United States, not realizing that Giap’s statement explains precisely why we’re in Iraq.

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