Good news for us…Sally went East and we got a little rain and some wind……the old news is that Florida is getting hammered……
Time for some history…..
That was the proclamation of Pres. George H.W. Bush at the end of the 1991 Gulf War.
I guess the best place to start is to explain the term “Vietnam Syndrome”…..
It is the belief, born of brutal experience during the Vietnam War, that never again will the United States gradually tiptoe into questionable wars without a clearcut objective, overwhelming military force, an endgame strategy and, most important, the support of Congress and the American people.
When you think of the word, ‘syndrome,’ you might think of a medical disease – something which is perhaps not overt but still affects an individual’s functions and decisions. The same was true for the political and societal phenomenon known as the Vietnam Syndrome, which refers to America’s wariness to engage in any foreign conflicts after the Vietnam War. In this lesson, we will explore the roots of Vietnam Syndrome and how it manifested itself in our society.
But what causes this “affliction”?
Vietnam Syndrome was caused, in part, by the haphazard way the United States intervened in the Vietnam conflict and the debacle it became. The United States fought a brief but large war in Vietnam, seemingly by accident. The United States first sent advisors to South Vietnam in the 1950s to train troops. The goal was to aid the failing democratic state and stop the spread of communism in Asia. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, more and more military personnel were sent to support that mission.
By 1968, there were more than half a million American troops in Vietnam providing the backbone of South Vietnam’s resistance to North Vietnam, which sought to unify the country under communist rule. Ill-equipped and ill-trained for a guerrilla war in the jungles of Vietnam, U.S. forces took heavy casualties. By the time the last American troops were withdrawn in 1973, more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women were either dead, missing, or presumed dead. To make matters worse, these deaths ultimately occurred in vain; South Vietnam fell to the communists once and for all two years later.
I bring this all up because we are approaching the 30 years anniversary of this conflict…..and the question should be….what did we learn from our war in the Gulf?
According to documents of the time…….
According to National Security Directive 54, dated Jan. 15, 1991, there were four major war aims: complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, restore Kuwait’s government, protect American lives (in particular, free hostages), and “promote the security and the stability of the Persian Gulf.”
On the last aim we failed miserably.
So was the war a rip roaring success that we have been led to believe?
Was the Gulf War (1990 to 1991) a success for the United States? To many, the answer is unequivocally “yes.” After all, the United States rallied the international community to punish aggression and liberate a small country (Kuwait) that had been invaded by its larger, authoritarian neighbor (Iraq). The country marshaled its formidable instruments of diplomatic, informational, military, and economic power to garner international support and achieved its objectives quickly at a relatively limited cost; adeptly executed joint and multinational military operations; and displayed astonishing military capabilities heralded as the beginning of a “revolution in military affairs.” These elements of the U.S. campaign should be celebrated and, where possible, emulated in the future.
But the United States should be careful not to mythologize its performance in the Gulf War. For example, war termination was handled haphazardly in a manner that hurt policy goals for regional stability. Following the war, great-power and non-state competitors sought to identify and exploit U.S. vulnerabilities with asymmetric responses while excessive military deference from allies often placed a greater burden on the United States. Lastly, U.S. military prowess in the war led to hubris, and reinforced a neglect for diplomacy, irregular warfare, stability operations, and governance. The country should continue to study the record of the Gulf War to identify and attend to demonstrated deficiencies, and to analyze subsequent responses of adversaries and allies.
We did nothing to secure the Middle East….in the long rub we made matters worse.
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”