tribal areas, the first thing you must plan is your retreat.
All expeditions into this area sooner or later end
in retreat under fire.”
--General Andrew Skeen (early 1900's),
in NYT Op-Ed, Caution: Taliban Crossing (11/28/07)
Most Profound Man in Iraq:
an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after
being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen
any foreign fighters in the area replied, "Yes, you."
"Secret Letter Form Iraq," Time (10/06/06)
Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
--Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
"How many times has President Bush used such phrases as "precipitous withdrawal" and remarked that only Americans can defeat the U.S. military effort in Iraq? Last April, for example, Bush said: "Precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is not a plan to bring peace to the region or to make our people safer at home. Instead, it would embolden our enemies and confirm their belief that America is weak."
"In a journal entry for Dec. 8, 1969, Schlesinger noted that President Richard M. Nixon, who was elected in 1968 having promised to end the fighting in Vietnam, had just given a speech announcing a plan to support the anti-communist regime in Saigon until it was capable of defending itself. Schlesinger correctly described that as "a policy doomed to futility and failure."He quoted Nixon as saying, "We really have only two choices open to us," which he described as Nixon's "own plan and precipitate withdrawal." Schlesinger wrote that Nixon's simplistic choice "plainly misrepresents the situation and misleads the country."
 The South Vietnamese government faced an insurgency that was largely defeated in the 1972 time frame. The threat to SVN's existence came from an external threat (North Vietnam) that could be addressed via military means, as the dispute was between two sovereign nations. NVN's goals was to destroy SVN and to unite the country in a communist state. The political goal was implemented through force of arms. Plain and simple.
 In Iraq and Afghanistan, the threat is not external, and cannot realistically be addressed by building armies. Armies that exist to control the citizenry of the country are hallmarks of tyrannical governments.
Armies are not police forces. Armies fight battles, and should not be internally-focused. Of course, that is only if democracy is the objective of the fight. The Iraq and Afghan armies are farcical enterprises, since there is no external threat to either country -- unless, of course, one views U.S. forces as an external threat.
Another quote Schlesinger noted from Nixon's speech is echoed by Bush today. "Let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that," Nixon said.
Nixon was referring to the anti-war coalition within the U.S. The situation has reversed today, for how can ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan humiliate the U.S.? Precipitous withdrawal is a fine solution that Ranger heartily endorses. Withdrawing from these areas is preferable to torture, excessive and unjustified U.S. casualties, diminution of U.S. citizen's rights, and all the rest of it.
From the inception, Ranger has not given one rat's ass for Iraq or Afghanistan, nor do I feel their welfare or existence as nation-states is a concern of America. If Iraqis and Afghanis kill each other off at prodigious rates, this is a U.N. concern and an internal problem for address by the Arab League. If there was one lesson of Vietnam it was this: The U.S. is not the policeman of the world.
The U.S. doesn't have a horse in either race. The oil is not ours. The ignorance demonstrated in both wars is palpable and self-destructive to U.S. interests.
The U.S. fought a brutal Civil War without foreign interference, and Iraq and Afghanistan should have the same opportunity. Equilibrium cannot be forced upon a closed, tribal society. Vietnam again proves instructive.
No one could keep NVN from uniting the country. It was their game and France, Britain and the U.S. were simply playing out their prospective colonial aspirations. The SVN government was never democratic, much the same as the puppet governments of Iraq and Afghanistan are not. All three entities are historically unsustainable due to this intractable fact.
The article mentions the leaked Pentagon Papers published June '71 as having no parallel today, and that is so, as everything is now a state secret and kept under strictest lock-and-key from the taxpayers. Secret courts, secret prisons and secret electronic warrantless surveillance do not bode well for a democratic future for America.
"Why anyone ever supposed that Vietnam so involved the American national interest or so threatened the security of the United States as to justify the frightful slaughter and destruction we have brought to this remote and alien country And what it also displays, at interminable length, is the frightening combination of certitude, misjudgment and ignorance that went into the making of decisions. . . . It is not a record of wickedness or criminality; it is rather a record of glibness, illusion and intellectual mediocrity."
Just substitute Iraq for Vietnam. Same-same.
The only change Ranger might make is adding "intellectual dishonesty and bankruptcy" to the mediocrity point. "Moral turpitude," more to the point.