Group: MEIC Conversion Group
Joined: 06/19/05 03:47 PM
Member No.: 102
As one who was with Nixon when LBJ's War became "Nixon's War" in the Democrat/left-antiwar mantras, allow me to draw upon that experience to explain what grave end to his presidential career President Obama faces if, despite his preoccupation with a full-blown economic depression, he does not quickly disengage from: a) The Iraq Quagmire, b) the Afghan trap and c) the Israeli use of America as its mad dog with which to threaten the Middle East.
Nixon had, prior to the 1968 Campaign, made clear that the US could not continue to exsanguinate its standing as a global power, the lifeblood of our then foreign policy, losing its troops to North Vietnamese ambushes in the triple-canopy jungles of South East Asia. He was well aware that the Soviet supplies, shipped in broad daylight from Vladivostok via Haiphong Harbor to Hanoi on a 30 miles rail line sacrosanct, "off limits" to our bombers, cost more in treasure rather than blood to destroy after dispersal into triple canopy jungle from Hanoi to the South via the Mui Gia Pass into Laos, than the cost in blood more than treasure after getting to Hanoi's forces (PAVN) in South Vietnam to be used against our forces. Nixon thus decided to expand the Vietnam War into a diplomatic manipulation involving the entire Asian theater and other controlling super-powers. Towards that end, in 1967, he promised privately that he would use China to diplomatically attack Russia and Russia to diplomatically attack China...both achieved through devastating blows against North Vietnam while negotiating with it directly in Paris. There is no question that PAVN was a Soviet proxy supposed to march West across Southeast Asia in order to link with Soviet-friendly India and thus encircle China in a final arc around its SE Asian soft underbelly.
At the same time, the Soviets had in mind a massive nuclear air assault on North China's nuclear installations. Warning of a Soviet “tonsillectomy” against China’s nuclear installations, Russian diplomats sought Nixon’s accord. At the time only President-elect, Nixon passed word to the Soviets that the US would protect China's northern border against any Soviet incursions, deeming an attack on China's North an attack on the USA. Once President, Nixon offered China hegemony over Indochina so long as it prevents Hanoi's march on Thailand. To prove that the US had no designs for permanent bases at China's soft underbelly, he offered to pull US forces out of SE Asia if China could assure South Vietnam's survival.
Why Thailand? Back in 1958, at an NSC meeting, President Eisenhower made clear that our involvement in Indochina was to protect Thailand, for if Thailand is free, the rest of SE Asia will not capitulate. At that same meeting, Nixon stood up to the SecState and CIA Chief Dulles Brothers and insisted that North Vietnam was Soviet dominated, not by the Chinese. So any American threat of direct US retaliation against China if it moves against SE Asia, insisted Nixon, would only encourage Soviet support of Hanoi's dream to dominate the SE Asian region; US troops in SE Asia and Soviet pressure on China's northern border, he insisted, would force China to submit to Moscow. Mao would then be removed and ex-Soviet-agent Liu Shao Chi would replace him. That would reunite the Communist Bloc under Soviet rule.
A decade later, Nixon as President elaborated on that prescient perspective: to "lose" in Indochina in order to win a permanent Sino-Soviet split by protecting China against Soviet overthrow of Mao. Withdrawing from Indochina, the US would guarantee Chinese domination of SE Asia if China guaranteed that, while the US protects China from Russia, China protects the SE Asian Mainland from North Vietnamese conquest. Had President Duong Van Minh, Nguyen Van Thieu's successor, accepted to hold off surrender for 48 hrs (as France pleaded with him to do) in April 1975, when Hanoi's forces were marching on Saigon, China would have kept its word and would have blunted Hanoi's flagrant violation of the Paris Peace Accord. Alas, Minh chickened out, surrendered, and China's halt of Hanoi's westward march could only come later in Cambodia. Still, Thailand and the rest of the SE Asian members of ASEAN never suffered Hanoi takeover because China kept its word to Nixon. Nixon, therefore, won the Indochina War by Eisenhower's standards, obvious when China attacked Vietnam from the North in order to halt its Westward march into Cambodia and Thailand.
In fact, South Vietnam was salvageable if the Paris Accords had been enforced by an air attack on Hanoi in 1974, as requested by Kissinger, and the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) had been respelled in weapons and gasoline. But the Democrats were so fearful of Korea-- a war Democrats start and fumble but Republicans end successfully-- that they passed a Senator Ted Kennedy rider that left South Vietnam disarmed and defenseless after Ford took over the American Presidency. Soon after the embargo on logistic support to the army of South Vietnam passed through Congress, Hanoi realized that there would be no means of resistance. Watergate only added to Hanoi's winning gamble. Hanoi used all its forces to attack South Vietnam, except for one division that it held back in the North to defend the whole country!
So the point is that by (1) making the Vietnam War "Nixon's War" and then (2) making the Paris Peace Accord unenforceable because of Congressional embargo on US air power and resample of ARVN, the Democrats cynically assured a Republican defeat in "Nixon's War."
President Obama opposed the Iraq War on grounds that it made no sense, coming at the expense of our 2001 "mission UNaccomplished" of catching binLaden and destroying the alQaeda/Taliban alliance. It turns out that GW Bush-- the UNdecider-- capitulated to Rumsfeld/Cheney and the neocons who wanted an anti-Arab "World War IV" for domination of the Middle East. The neocons and Israel assumed that if the US attacks Iraq, after an easy victory, it would move on to attack Iran and Syria. As one Israeli leader said: "Forevermore we would look East and see American soldiers instead of an Islamic threat." For Americans, the fantastic oil reserves of Iraq made it worthwhile. For Rumsfeld, a successful blitzkrieg in Iraq would make him a hero, giving him his last chance to run for President in 2004. For the neocons and the Likudniks, the "World War IV" crusade against Islam which they demanded of Bush would be a windfall for their arms industry benefactors-- from which the neocons received commissions for influence peddling-- while eliminating any potential Muslim force that might compete for Mideast dominance with Israel. For the Saudis and Kuwaitis, defeat of Saddam would end that threat and would enable them to demand the removal of US bases from sacred Muslim ground, moving US bases instead to Shia Iraq and Iran. It was truly a perfect storm of irreconcilable factions enjoying a common interest.
But, in fact, Iran played Bush for a fool, convincing him that if he turned Iraq to the Iran-controlled Shia of Hakim (SCIRI Party), Jafari (Da'awa Party) and Chalabi's INC, Iran would drop its nuclear plans, enabling the US to normalize its diplomatic relation with Iran, thus allowing US oil companies back to exploit Iran as well. Since 2002, behind America's back, a most enigmatic Iran-Iraq alliance to combine their petro-dollars at turn them into Euros at a great profit, thus blocking US access to their oil in order to destroy the American economy. Realization of this double-cross made dismembering Iraq and attacking Ira, seem ever more necessary to the Bush Administration. Consequently, the plan to leave Iraq right after overthrow of Saddam had to be abandoned so long as the US could not permit the takeover of Iraq by Shia factions aligned with Iran. Bush's original plan to, in effect, turn Iraq over to Iran so both would become trading partners for the US, had to be abandoned. It is then that Israel began insisting that the US *must* attack Iran and destroy both its nuclear and missile installations. Others were advising Bush that if Iran develops nuclear power for peaceful uses, it could devote more oil to the fungible world market, thus lowering the price of oil. Bush thought that by a demonstration of "shock and awe," as advised by Israel, he would not need to attack Iran because it would become cooperative in awe and shock. Unfortunately, looking at the US war in Afghanistan and the failure to capture binLaden, Iran concluded that it could still stand up to the US. Consequently, like our Saudi and Kuwaiti allies, who all through the Iraq War were helping the Sunni and Ba'athist insurrection in the West of Iraq, Iran fully supported the Shia insurrection in the East of Iraq. Iraq had become a quagmire sandwich where US power bled at the hand of insurgents supported by its Arab and Iranian "partners" in the Iraq invasion venture. For six years, Bush continued to "double down" in Iraq to avoid going into the history books as the president who pointlessly exsanguinated military power in Iraq, fooled by Iraq's Arab and Iranian neighbors.
Bush's situation was analogous to that of LBJ. Clever by half, LBJ accused the Joint Chiefs of trying to get him "into a shooting war with China." To deny them this supposed wish he responded with half measures to all their recommendation so that Vietnam not fall on his watch while inserting forces in South Vietnam without attacking Soviet supply lines via China so as not to provoke a Chinese invasion. The more he responded with force to Hanoi's "invasion from the north" (title of a DoS White Paper), the more concessions he made in attempts to negotiate. He thus kept the war on a frustrating unending "even keel" with no prospects of ending the cost in lives and treasure on his watch. His only consolation was that he, at least, was balancing Hanoi and not losing South Vietnam.
The Tet Offensive is an interesting case-in-point of the LBJ-type half-measures. In the mountainous II Corps, where the Ho Chi Minh Trail then ended, Gen. Westmoreland by 1967 had managed to exterminate more PAVN men and weapons that Hanoi could send it (in the words of McNamara, Westy reached "the cross-over point"). Desperately, Hanoi "doubled down" a la GW Bush with an all-out assault on South Vietnam's cities, where the Viet Cong had no real infrastructure. AS PAVN was preparing for the assault on the Cambodian side of the western border with Cambodia, Westy asked LBJ to allow him to hit the staging bases in Cambodia before some major offensive sets off. LBJ deemed that a provocation of China because Prince Sihanouk claimed that China was protecting his "neutrality." As a result, the Tet Offensive was a militarily suicidal campaign for Hanoi but a propaganda coup, for it made it look as if the enemy could attack anywhere anytime; nowhere was safe in the eyes of Americans watching the offensive on TV. Two months later, LBJ surrendered the presidency-- "I will not run..." speech of March 1968-- and cut off all bombing of North Vietnam north of the 19th Parallel, leaving the Mui Gia Pass unmolested. He had decided that he would try to negotiate an end to the war within the remaining ten months of his presidency, even if it meant abandoning any demands that give the Republican Govt of Saigon any chance of survival. Of course, a desperate clock is like underarm nervous perspiration, the other side can smell it, and LBJ left office without any prospect of peace. Receiving massive Soviet support, Hanoi had more to lose from peace than from war; as a Communist International state supporting a world socialist revolution, for Hanoi, the pain of its people was beside the point.
As soon as Nixon took over the Presidency, he sought to end the Vietnam War before it becomes "Nixon's war" in the media. Unfortunately, in the rush, he signaled the other side that his political clock was running out for him too. As a result, no one shared his rush to finish everything. On the contrary, Hanoi tried several armored and artillery backed offensives in order to strengthen its position-- all failed. Nevertheless, Nixon troop wit drawl clock was running out fast while Hanoi's Soviet support was increasing, not decreasing. The odds favored Hanoi, despite the accelerating improvement of ARVN and the change of South Vietnam's population profile from 85% rural to 75% urban; if the Viet Cong were "fish" and the peasants "the sea," the sea was drying up with urbanization and the fish were left high and dry to be triangulated by the Phoenix Program. Alas, it was too late. Nixon had to get all US troops out before the election and he felt that, the war having become "Nixon's War" in the media, he had to get a peace accord by then too. Sop he settled on the exploitation of the Sino-Soviet split as explained above.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Republicans hope that Obama is forced to delay withdrawal from the Iraq/Afghan "War on Terror" long enough for it to become "Obama's War." Gen. Petraeus also seeks to delay troop withdrawal from Iraq for reinvestment into a losing war in Afghanistan, as Obama is wont to do, because the Afghan War was not his responsibility but the Iraq War "surge" is what made his career. Fearing that the inconclusiveness of the military "surge" campaign and its political backsliding due to thoughtlessness would be found out, despite claiming victory for himself, Petraeus wants troops to stay put long enough so that it becomes someone else's war. Obama seems to have appreciated that in the curt way in which he distinguished his job from that of Petraeus: your job is to keep these troops and mine is to get them out, but I am the president with the responsibility and authority to make policy.
Ex-Gen. Keane is now working with the Republicans and the neocons to force Obama to hang on in Iraq long enough for it to become "Obama's War." But Obama's plan-- like Nixon before him-- is to get US troops out fast enough for all Muslim forces to realize that the US is a strategic, not a conventional force; therefore, it is pulling out, but if the states in the region continue to feed the Sunni and Shia faction in their Iraq carnage of each other and the Taliban forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan (these are two different Talibans), the US will respond as a STRATEGIC, not an INFANTRY power. Obama thus takes the same position toward Iran as Nixon took toward the North Vietnamese: we are getting out but if you attack Saigon (Baghdad), we will pulverize Hanoi (Teheran). Fortunately for Obama, he has a Democrat Congress that wants him out as soon as possible but will be a lot more patient and less demanding than was Republican Nixon's Democrat Congress. Desperate for an Obama debacle, the Republicans and neocons are seeking the assistance of Israel. How?
Obama's goal is a one...two shots solution. He hopes to pull out of Iraq while negotiating assistance from Iran under threat of an American strategic attack of its nuclear installations. This he cannot do now because, as in Korea, US troops in Iraq (as on the Korean border) are vulnerable to Iranian (North Korean) retaliation. So the faster he pulls troops out of Iraq, the sooner will his strategic threat against Iran become credible.
In the case of Afghanistan, he wants to invest more forces there as a bargaining chip. There is in fact no purpose for our forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban knows it. Obama hopes to use our increasing force investment there to convince more moderate Taliban fighters to come to terms with the Kabul Govt, possibly with an elected replacement for President Karzai. But as the US withdraws from the Middle East (all forces in Iraq stopped fighting so as not to delay US withdrawal) Israel feels that it will be left to face Iran alone. It is too accustomed to its domination of Bush through the neocons and does not trust Obama's commitment. And so, it chose to attack Gaza in the dying days of the Bush Administration so that incoming President Obama will be told, in effect: if you pull forces out of the region, we have no choice but to exterminate the Palestinians. Forcing Diaspora Jews into a radical position, it hopes that their power in the Democrat Party will turn it against Obama and will slow him down, just as if he were Nixon dealing with a Democrat Congress. It is hoped that bi-partisan Zionists would slow things down to the point that Iraq become "Obama's War' and he, like Bush, will not dare to pull out troops for fear that collapse would happen on his watch.
First and foremost, Obama must recall that the same proportion of Jews voted for him as blacks. So the neocons are in no way a decisive political power. Secondly, Israel is a state on welfare and can't afford a shrinking of its lavish American welfare check for the next year based on the fact that the US is broke. A Zionist pressure to push such an enormous sum of money through Congress cannot be accomplished secretly; and, when made public, it will cause quite a furor, especially if the President is openly bullied by Zionist lobbies and Congressmen in his own party. After the recent Gaza incident, Israel's standing in American opinion is quite low, probably as much because of as despite the propaganda blitz and silencing of critics in the US media and press by Zionist pressure. Here Obama would do well to consult ex-President GHW Bush, the father, for he had much experience with Israeli sabotage of peace talks to a two-state solution. Furthermore, the Saudis have made clear that they will be patient only so long before they force on us an oil embargo like that which they imposed on us in the 1970s.
So in fact, if he has the courage, Obama is in a position to set his own pace. Unlike Nixon who had a great idea but was slowed down by all sides, Obama can balance all the forces against his policy for a regional solution by diplomatic means, playing them one against the other so they do not paralyze him with their toxic stings. In the Middle East, in other words, America has no friends, only common interests. These Obama can intercalate so he achieves what is best for America within the limits in patience of the American electorate.
Obama must have a sense of how much time he has while the status quo courtesy of the Bush incompetence is still appreciated as the prime causal factor for our unfortunate predicament. His solutions must be timed to flower before it all becomes "Obama's War on Terror." At that point people will no longer care what mess he inherited from his predecessor. Any up tick of violence or any challenge to the American withdrawal will be seen as products of his failed policies. He soon must first exit Iraq; second, negotiate an exit from Afghanistan; third, end Israel's massacre-strategy to bully him into capitulation to a ONE state solution, where the Palestinians are "transferred" to Jordan by greater Israeli ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Toward that end he has to convince all parties that the US has turned 180 degrees on the Bush policy of interventionist "preemptive" imperialism in a "World War IV" crusade against Islam. Only then can he make clear, as Nixon did, that he is mad-enough to apply the strategic stick if his interlocutors do not act constructively at the negotiation table to prevent cataclysmic warfare and terror to occur. Whether the states in the region need US protection, withdrawal or assistance, Obama is in a wonderful position to give each what it needs. What he must have of his own is the courage to be believable and seem determined though reasonable.
We have been through an era where our foreign policy was recklessly exploited for fun and profit much as was our economy with very much the same disastrous results in both cases. We are not yet sure if we can save either one. But there is no question that Obama is as brilliant in foreign policy as was Nixon. He only need the clarity of courage to force a schedule on developments that achieve the desired ends before the utterly outrageous "War on Terror" become "Obama's War" in the minds of the voters.
Daniel E. Teodoru