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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|The New Vietnam ?|
|08/09/02 at 16:26:47|
|(source: The Mirror 9/8/2002)|
IRAQ INVASION WILL BE BUSH'S NEW VIETNAM Former SAS Commanding Officer and commander of UN troops in Bosnia, Sir Michael recently retired as one of the most senior officers in the British Army
By Gen Sir Michael Rose
WHEN the US went to war in Vietnam it did so to prevent a change of regime in South Vietnam.
At that time American politicians believed in the domino theory and that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, the whole of south east Asia would follow.
Ten years later, 59,000 US soldiers lay dead, the communists ruled South Vietnam and American foreign and domestic policy lay in ruins. And, of course, no other country in the region fell to communism.
Today, President Bush is telling us that he is going to war - putting thousands of young American men and women in danger - in order to change an evil regime that poses a threat to the West.
Although soldiers all over the world are notoriously cynical about politicians, the GIs will fight in Iraq if told to do so. But wars are only won when the Army, the Government and the people unequivocally support them.
In Vietnam, although the GIs fought heroically on the ground and won many victories, US domestic support for the war weakened and defeat became inevitable.
Even if it was adequately demonstrated that Saddam Hussein has developed weapons of mass destruction - which it has not - any soldier will tell you that a threat comes not only from the possession of weapons but importantly from an intention to use them.
So far there has been neither evidence produced directly linking Saddam Hussein with the attacks in America on September 11, nor any indication that he is about to strike at the West.
IRAQ is certainly supporting Palestinian terrorists in the Israeli conflict, in the way that Libya supported the IRA in their terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland.
But when the US launched bombing raids against Libya from British bases - not for supporting the IRA but for attacks against US personnel serving in Germany - the result was increased attacks against British troops in Northern Ireland and the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie.
Today, Libya's Colonel Gaddafi remains in power but is no longer considered part of the axis of evil.
Ignoring the lessons of history, President Bush seems determined to go to war - seemingly no longer concerned whether UN weapons inspectors get access to Iraq's industrial military complex or not.
Possibly, he believes removing Hussein from power will bring America closer to victory in the war against terrorism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the British discovered fighting Irish republican terrorists, the only way to defeat terrorists is to isolate them from the people.
This is only achieved by removing political, economic and social grievances that gave rise to support for them in the first place.
This is an absolute precondition for intelligence gathering, to disrupt the terrorist organisation and to arrest the leaders.
As Wellington said about the First Afghan War, which ended so disastrously for the British: "You do not conquer countries by running up hills and firing at long distances."
In saying this he showed that he clearly understood that counter-terrorist campaigns are more about winning hearts and minds than about body counts.
Another explanation for President Bush's attitude is that he believes it will stop Palestinian attacks on Israel - because Saddam Hussein supports a number of the Palestinian terrorist groups. If so we are in danger of being wrongly dragged into a US-led war in the Middle East on behalf of Israel.
It is not just Saddam Hussein who gives support to Palestinian terrorists. Indeed, the majority of Muslims around the world see what is happening to the Palestinians as an affront to justice, humanity and Islam.
If the British Army had used targeted assassinations against the IRA, used attack helicopters and tanks to destroy the houses of those suspected of harbouring terrorists or crossed the border into the Republic where many of the terrorists bases lay, the progress seen in Northern Ireland in recent years would not have been made.
IT is therefore in the pursuit of a just settlement in Palestine rather than a regime change in Iraq that the solution to the war against terrorism must lie.
If regime change has no precedent or legitimacy under international law, the very great risks of going to war have not been properly considered.
These include the possible destabilisation of the entire Middle East, a prolongation of the war against terrorism and a high number of civilian casualties, as well as soldiers, if terrorists choose to strike in our homelands.
I believe we should only go to war with UN approval and if our people are truly convinced that the risks are worth the long-term benefits to world peace and order.
Any such action must also be based on a military strategy capable of delivering a clearly defined set of political goals. This has yet to emerge.
In the absence of these, any attempt at regime change will surely end with the same sort of debacle as the Vietnam War.
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