Memo to the president: Beware another Vietnam quagmire on the Tigris and Euphrates

For those of us old enough to recall the Vietnam War, fact and reality were obscured and mangled by successive White Houses anxious to reach the delusional “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tragically, at the end of the tunnel lay a quagmire that consumed 58,000 American and countless Vietnamese lives.

In the highly complex and complicated fight against the Islamic State if Iraq and Levant (ISIL), are fact and reality similarly being distorted or ignored by the White House either because of lack of understanding of the conflict or other human error and misjudgment?

In Vietnam, a combination of profound ignorance and misunderstanding of the nature of the war produced a fatally flawed strategy based on gradual escalation to increase pain and cost on the enemy and search and destroy missions in which the body count became the default metric for weighing success or failure. Then the war was waged with four or five different ground and air campaigns that were never integrated into a single, coherent approach with clarity of purpose or a clear understanding of what would constitute victory or defeat.

Despite the complaints of critics, unlike Vietnam, the White House has a cogent strategy and campaign plan for countering ISIL. While destroying ISIL is not achievable, degrading and defeating it are. To accomplish those objectives, the five-part plan is aimed at targeting and eliminating ISIL fighters; stemming the influx of foreign fighters; cutting off the means of financing for ISIL; providing a counter-narrative refuting ISIL’s murderous and barbaric ideology; and providing humanitarian relief and stability in recaptured territory as ISIL is rolled back and defeated.

But that plan alone is not enough for success. Execution of the plan and how well it integrates all of government’s capabilities as well as those of allies, friends and members of the coalition is vital.

Full article: Memo to the president: Beware another Vietnam quagmire on the Tigris and Euphrates (World Tribune)

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