While heartily endorsing the Czar’s point here that technocratic methods lose wars, your Volgi will respectfully disagree with the Czar’s account of the Vietnam War, in that his readings seem to indicate that not only was the war winnable—Gen. Creighton Abrams’ clear-and-hold strategy degraded the North’s warfighting capability and trained up the South to the point that they were winning (e.g., crushing the NVA’s Easter Offensive), until, in one of the most shameful acts in American political history, the Watergate Congress cut off all aid to our ally, the Republic of Vietnam, so that they literally ran out of ammo to fire—but it was also worthwhile—not least for the sake of the tens of thousands of South Vietnamese killed or made refugees by the imposition of the Hà Nội dictatorship, and the millions more who had (and have) to live under its despotic rule.
And dominos did fall. Laos became a Vietnamese-Soviet client state, and with Maoist backing, Cambodia became the infernal, murderous nightmare of “Democratic Kampuchea.” As the Czar notes, this was not in itself a strategic catastrophe, but it was a regional débâcle—which led to a strategic catastrophe.
Losing the war (or forfeiting the war) rather than fighting it in the first place led to a catastrophic loss of confidence in American foreign policy, a massive, poisonous surge of domestic anti-Americanism on the left, and an engraved invitation for the Soviet (and to a lesser degree, Chinese) adventurism and imperialism which so roiled the globe in the ’70s.
And like the Czar, your Volgi is inclined to lay this firmly at the feet of Robert McNamara and his Whiz Kids, Lyndon Johnson, William Westmoreland, Nixon, Kissinger, et al., many of whom were good and decent men who simply made terrible, costly mistakes (many of which came out of scientistic hubris).
When it comes to Afghanistan, your Volgi is optimistic about the Obama Administration’s plan. One never knows, but it appears to be driven by empirical analysis and experience rather than ideology. As the Czar says, it is very worrisome to see the word “metrics” show up; one hopes it is simply a poor expression of the idea of tangible, concrete tactical and strategic goals.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.