Now Ill admit I dont know squat about todays smart weapons, all the electronic hardware it now takes to outfit just one ground-pounder (infantryman) or the total digitally integrated battlefield. But I do have a goodly amount of hands-on experience at trying to subdue an enemy whose chief no-tech advantage consists of his ability to blend in with and receive aid and comfort from the local population. And ever since the something less than "Shock and Awe" of the war in Iraq, Im starting to see a very disturbing pattern that looks a lot more like Ban Me Thout, Republic of Vietnam, 1966 than Baghdad, 2003.
The lessons this country should have learned in Vietnam that a determined homegrown fighting force can overcome, in shear attrition and determination, the technological advantages of any occupying army on this planet we seem to have misplaced somewhere. Probably in those hallowed halls of the Pentagon where were finding it almost as hard to come up with a new Army Chief of Staff as we are locating Saddam Hussein and/or Osama bin Laden. Perhaps somebody should have thought to ask the vanquished Russians, who no doubt could have told us a thing or two about Afghanistan, where we seem to have done nothing more than install a new mayor of the city of Kabul with our billions in treasure and the blood of a lot of young and talented Americans.
Or did anyone stop to ask our vaunted British allies about the last time they tried this sort of thing in Mesopotamia back in the first couple of decades of the last century.
For the record they were soundly defeated and there is still a filled-to-overflowing foreign cemetery in present day Iraq to commemorate that fact. The world of today and most precisely the United States of America has no sense of history. Hell, we dont even remember our own past let alone that of the rest of the world which has been building those memories quite a few thousand years longer than we have.
But I can tell you that it is not possible for any military force, to include our own, to overrun, hold and keep in check any people who do not want to be subjugated. And I dont care what we call the exercise, no people on earth would allow such an occupation for long. So the question is quickly becoming, How many of our children are we the American people willing to surrender each week to the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and God knows how many other pin pricks on this globe? Because Iraqis, be they unorganized "last ditch Saddam holdouts" (which seems about as believable as all those weapons of mass destruction in their arsenal) or the guy who is sick and tired of being rousted out of bed at 1 a.m. by screaming U.S. troops, will continue to exact as many American lives as it takes to end that occupation.
We use to have a saying in Vietnam: For every Viet Cong we capture, we create 10 more by plodding through some dirt-poor villagers rice paddy or ripping up some bewildered farmers hearth and home. Ill grant you that U.S. moms, dads and loved ones are not near as willing to pay the price that will continue to be exacted as those who sit in consultation in the Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington, D.C. And believe me, its more of a chore carrying out that occupation than we as a country have a right to ask of our children. Its the scariest and most self-loathing function they will ever serve in this life or the next.