October 7, 2013

"He Beat Us in War but Never in Battle."

Excellent headline for a column (written by John McCain) about Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who died last week.

81 comments:

YoungHegelian said...

Giap was supreme commander of North Vietnam's forces for a longer time than any other general commanded a country's forces in modern history.

The NV Politburo took a page out of Stalin's playbook after Giap was no longer of use to them. After WWII, Stalin wanted to make sure the hero Zhukov never became a center of authority, so he banished him off to some stupid desk job. Likewise, the NV politburo put Giap in charge of a bureau charged with passing out birth control information.

Somebody oughtta write a book on how Communist regimes are even more scared of their own military power being used against them than democracies are.

Skyler said...

He was being lionized on NPR last week. Oh, if only the United States had such wonderful leaders to drag us to a workers utopia.

It made me sick to my stomach.

YoungHegelian said...

@Skyler,

Did NPR deign to mention what casualty figures Giap as well as Zhukov were willing to sustain in pursuit of their military objectives?

Voters tend to get REAL upset when their sons start coming home in body bags in very large numbers. Dictatorships don't have to worry about that so much.

n.n said...

America lost the consensus. Perhaps it never existed. The conflict persists today.

chrisnavin.com said...

Whoa there, Hegelian, there's a 60's boomer coalition and young hipster postmodern 60's coalition to keep together over at NPR.

Don't want to 'relive' the Cold War and strategic realities of Vietnam.

David said...

YoungHegelian said...
@Skyler,

Did NPR deign to mention what casualty figures Giap as well as Zhukov were willing to sustain in pursuit of their military objectives?


I would argue that the United States would have been willing to sustain such casualty levels in WW II if needed for victory. We certainly engaged in some high casualty tactics at various times, especially in the Pacific. Luckily we did not have to for extended periods of time.

The United States had the lowest casualty rate based on population and number of forces engaged of any major participant in the Second World War. Surprisingly to some, it was lower even than France's, I believe.

I am sure Harry Truman had this in mind when he approved the atomic bombing of Japan.

Paul said...

McCain is an indiot.

Gap surely did beat us in battle. Alot of the 'casualties' we recored were so fake.

Find a blood trail = a kill. And for every kill there must have been 10 wounded, right?

That was how the wiz-kids though and thus the body count was so inflated we never realized we were loosing the war.

Moose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moose said...

If anyone needs to question this they need to Bing "Nixon" "bombing" "politics".

David said...

Paul, the count of North Vietnamese dead in the war is based on their records, imperfect as they are, not our body count statistics. A very large percent of the North Vietnamese deaths came via the logistical effort of the Ho Chi Minh trail. That was an amazing but very costly military accomplishment.

Giap took a third world army and defeated the United States in a war. He rarely defeated our forces in direct combat, but the objectives of war are political. North Vietnam completely achieved its political objectives.

AlanKH said...

Bing? Really? Are you mad? Bing is the Hans Blix of search engines.

Kirk Parker said...

Paul,

Which battles, then? (I mean apart from the one John F'n Kerry was in, of course.)

RonF said...

That's because the battles were fought by the military but the war was fought by the media.

Tregonsee said...

As an NVA officer replied to a similar assertion during the armistice conference, "That may well be true, but it is also irrelevant."

madAsHell said...

I remember the body counts on the "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite". I was only 10 or 11, but every night there would be 15-20 dead Americans, and hundreds of dead Vietnamese. I remember thinking......when are they going to run out of people.

I always thought Cronkite was a strange name. In junior high my thinking was confirmed. Krankheit is German for disease.

Marshal said...

David said...
I would argue that the United States would have been willing to sustain such casualty levels in WW II if needed for victory.


I doubt it.

US dead on the scale of WWII USSR would be roughly 18 million, likely with 3 times that wounded. If so total casualties would have exceeded half our population and therefore require us to draft women. Casualties much less than that would have convinced us to negotiate a truce.

rhhardin said...

Buckley wrote a nice obit for Hubert Humphrey in NR too.

It's a conservative thing.

Austin said...

It' s still a mystery to me why anyone would claim that the North Vietnamese won the war. The U.S. achieved a 20:1 kill ratio, and Vietnam was reduced to a backwards, miserable, impoverished cesspool whose people wallowed in squalor. Some victory.

David said...

Marshall, US population was about 132 million in 1940. Russia had less than that but the entire Soviet Union more. The Soviet figures are less reliable than USA.

Figures for Soviet casualties range from about 16 million to 25 million. Huge no matter what the number, so if US had casualties at the same rate as the Soviets, you would be correct in your projection.

However, more than half the Soviet casualties were civilian, and large percentages of that due to starvation and disease. Using only military (not combat but military) deaths, your projection would be double the likely, if you assume that American civilian casualties would have remained light.

Nevertheless you may be right. It's hard to know. My view is influenced by the extreme fatalism I remember being expressed by the many former soldiers (my father included) who I grew up around.

The only rough precedent is the Civil War, where deaths were about 2% of the population. That would result in about 2.6 million deaths if applied to the 1940 US population.

You may well be right that we would not have accepted the Soviet level of death (even just the military.) But I do think we would have accepted a far higher level of military deaths than we actually incurred. The commitment level was very high.

zefal said...

Our own media willingly made sure we would lose the war. Our defeat was from within.

Just like media making sure republicans cave by making them believe their phony polls are real. Like a trained seal, repubs like the senile McCain, flap their flippers and bark.

Paco Wové said...

"...why anyone would claim that the North Vietnamese won the war."

The North Vietnamese got what they wanted out of the war. The South Vietnamese didn't, and their American allies didn't.

Skyler said...

After winning a big game, Knute Rockne was criticized that the over team had better passing yards, running yards, etc. Rockne explained that the only statistic that mattered is the number of points.

Austin said...

The practical consequence and hard realitiy of the war was a decimated and impoverished population living in squalor and misery. They didn't win a single thing.

St. George said...

McCain comes across as pathetic in this article, again and again beseeching the great general to give him insights into his victories. Finally, at the end the great Giap tells him he was an "honorable" opponent. Meaningless BS.

marvin said...

North Vietnam was a poor backwater country before the war. After the war the they were a poor backwater with a competent army, Soviet backing, dominance over Laos and Cambodia, and their primary objective, control over South Vietnam.

It wasn't significantly worse than what America did to itself during the Civil War and no one claims that the North didn't win that one.

Craig Howard said...

The United States won the Viet Nam War. The Paris Peace Accords clinched it; the North surrendered. The Democrats in Congress then proceeded to withhold funding for South Viet Nam and it fell.

great Unknown said...

For people who don't read the article, the headline gives the wrong impression. It implies, as Skyler notes, "They won the game, but we had all the first downs."

The article gives a different picture. There, McCain says, "They were so good, that they won despite our having all the first downs."

In fact, McCain seems to credit Giap with having a much deeper understanding of war and its ways than the Americans did.

David said...

St. George said...
McCain comes across as pathetic in this article, again and again beseeching the great general to give him insights into his victories. Finally, at the end the great Giap tells him he was an "honorable" opponent. Meaningless BS.


Seemed the opposite to me. An old warrior telling a story with a minimum of self-justification and self-promotion. And acknowledging uncomfortable facts.

We want our politicians to be humble and straightforward. Then when one actually acts that way, as I think McCain did here, we are going to trash him? If that is what we do, no wonder they feed us bullshit most of the time.

William said...

I think the common definition of victory is being in control of the territory fought over at the end of the day. By this definition, Giap was the winner.....A more statesmanlike definition of victory is that it belongs to those who survive and prosper at war's end. By this definition Americans were the clear winners in Vietnam. Ditto with the French in Algeria. (On this basis, I suppose that you could argue that the French lost WWI and came out ahead in WWII.)

David said...

"Craig Howard said...
The United States won the Viet Nam War. The Paris Peace Accords clinched it; the North surrendered. The Democrats in Congress then proceeded to withhold funding for South Viet Nam and it fell."

No. We could not wait to get out of there, and the North Vietnamese knew that once we left, the south would fall to them. The means of the fall came as the American people elected the Democrats, who indeed pulled all funding from the south and left them helpless. It was a despicible thing to do.

But the North knew that some way or another, perhaps not so crassly, we would not help the south enough for them to survive. There was very little outcry at the time over the shameful abandonment of people who had supported us for a long time. We literally kicked them off the helicopters that were allowing the last Americans to escape. But beyond a tisk her and a harumph there, people set it aside.

North Vietnam had worn down the American people.

John Constantius said...

The American Revolution was very similar. George Washington spent most of the Revolutionary War losing battles to the British, but never badly enough that the Continental Army was destroyed as an effective force. Washington was a brilliant general and understood the reality of the conflict: he didn't need to beat the British in the field, he just had to keep his army alive until the British gave up. Like the NV, he benefitted from an anti-war movement in the enemy's home country and strong allies who didn't much care about his independence movement but were willing to back him for their own reasons.

St. George said...

David...

Respectfully disagree. He abased himself to a Communist leader responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Why? Because he yearned for kernels of wisdom. Pfft.

A quick look on Wiki finds that as many as 2.5 million South Vietnamese were sent to "re-education camps" 165,000 died. Daily chores included mine-field "sweeping." Some held as long as 17 years.

An American Senator is hugging this animal, this monster, this fiend? How repulsive.

jr565 said...

Paul wrote:'McCain is an indiot.

Gap surely did beat us in battle. Alot of the 'casualties' we recored were so fake.

Find a blood trail = a kill. And for every kill there must have been 10 wounded, right?

That was how the wiz-kids though and thus the body count was so inflated we never realized we were loosing the war.

Nah, we won pretty much every battle. including the Tet offensive which was characterized as a loss but which was actually a decimation of their forces.
Where we lost was the will to keep on fighting and the weariness we always get when we are in a war for an extended period of time. They simply knew that we lacked the resolve to fight a protracted war.
And if too massive casualties on their part they were willing to pay that price.

jr565 said...

David wrote:
The United States won the Viet Nam War. The Paris Peace Accords clinched it; the North surrendered. The Democrats in Congress then proceeded to withhold funding for South Viet Nam and it fell."


Congress withheld funds for something the president was trying to do? Tell me it aint so.

jr565 said...

By the way, it was a despicable thing to do on the dems part. One of the lowest betrayals imaginable.

I was just commenting on congresses ability to withhold the funds to stop a war. Is this the power of the purse in action? By democrats?

gk1 said...

This sounds like it almost makes sense like Lombardi saying "We didn't lose the game, we just ran out of time"

tim maguire said...

This discussion is putting me in mind of the second Punic War when Hannibal invaded Italy, took over most of the South and spent the next 10 years trying to engage the Romans in a deciding battle.

The Romans followed a hit 'em where they ain't strategy and every year, despite winning every engagement, the territory controlled by Hannibal shrank.

Cedarford said...

David wrote:
The United States won the Viet Nam War. The Paris Peace Accords clinched it; the North surrendered. The Democrats in Congress then proceeded to withhold funding for South Viet Nam and it fell."
==================
Right wing nonsense. All the North did was agree to leave it's Armies in the South and take no more action "pending negotiations". No surrender. Nixon thought the equipment provided would create a stalemate if dominant and wealthy economic class - Chinese, Eurasian, and Vietnamese signifcant landowner caste allowed their sons, 20% of eligible age, to be Drafted. But they had refused, thinking it was far smarter to bribe a S Vietnamese official 200-850 dollars so a witless American would face risk instead.

As for "America the clear winner"...we were so weakened and powerless by 1975 that the Soviets gave the Green Light to start aggressive communist takeovers in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and 4 nations of Central America. It ordered Cuban proxies to start involvement in Grenada and Central America. Cuba saw the loser US as ripe for the taking, and even without Soviet backing, invaded Angola and Zambia and extended to Namibia when all the US did was sputter. Other nations saw it was ideal to also take it to America knowing nothing would happen. So the Panama Canal was lost and Iran was taken by the Islamists.
Then obviously the Soviets seeing such easy pickings, invaded Afghanistan.

As right wing drivel, saying we won Vietnam, is like saying there are still "vast deposits of WMD in Iraq".

Big Mike said...

The fundamental problem was (1) following the battle of Ia Drang Valley Robert Strange McNamara settled on a strategy based on a war of attrition, and (2) Dick Nixon didn't rethink that strategy when he took office in 1972 until he was up for reelection in 1976 and knew he couldn't win reelection with the war still on.

By then the grunts (and I was one of them) were well aware that the VC/NVA body count estimates were wildly inflated and the troops were disgusted by episodes such as Hamburger Hill, which was taken after 450 casualties, then promptly abandoned back to the VC/ANV. Ditto the defense of Khe Sanh, which was afterwards abandoned, and ditto Hill 881 (though Hill 881 cost the Marines over 600 casualties). Hard fighting, high US casualties, then the US forces just turned around and walked away.

As a draftee I had the good fortune to stay stateside for my tour. But I served with and knew many men returning from SE Asia, I heard their stories, and I knew what their morale was like.

Giap and Ho Chi Minh versus William Westmoreland, Robert McNamara, and Lyndon Johnson? We never had a chance.

William said...

I wonder howl long it will take for the left to realize that the people who died in these Marxist liberation struggles died deaths just as foolish and futile as those of their opponents. In hindsight most war are pointless and unnecessary, but Marxist liberation struggles have the distinction of being wars where the biggest losers are the winners.

cubanbob said...

The United States won the Viet Nam War. The Paris Peace Accords clinched it; the North surrendered. The Democrats in Congress then proceeded to withhold funding for South Viet Nam and it fell."

Absolutely correct. We thanks to the democrats chose to lose. Giap admitted that Tet pretty much destroyed the VC and the NVA. He was amazed that LBJ didn't take advantage of our victory and march right into Hanoi. He said they could not have stopped us. He tried again in 72 and even though most of our troops had pulled out the Air Force smashed them. Then came the Christmas bombing and that finally got them to sign the peace treaty. They knew once we were out we wouldn't be back. On that they were right. We built up the South Vietnamese Army to fight to fight based on our doctrines and methods and then when they ran out of ammunition the democrats cut of resupply and air cover. One wonders if Nixon hadn't been forced out and had been president in 75 whether he would have provided the air cover and the resupply if things would have turned out different. Three years later the NVA found itself in a war with China, a war they won and a few years afterwards were quite willing to lease the big base at Cam Ran bay back to the US after we lost our base in the Philippines. So ultimately who really won?

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

After listening to many veterans and reading about the war, one of Bernard Fall's books which was alluded to and really operatic, gripping, I have a view of it which I haven't seen expressed. Granted, we should have supported the Geneva Accords and had an election and gone from there. We could talk about the politics and why we didn't. What I haven't seen expressed is that, having gone on with a contrary position, and spent so much in everybody's blood and treasure and gotten an agreement with North VN we should have supported the forces of the South against the blitzkrieg from the north in 75. We did it in 73 successfully which led to Giap's removal from military commander. War like other endeavors should be viewed as investment which should not be thrown away emotionally.

Mountain Maven said...

We won all the battles in spite of Lyndon Johnson and his band of fools. The Democratic congress along with Gerald Ford in 1975 surrendered what we had paid for in blood.

McCain should be retired and sent home to fade away.

Hoàng Hải Nguyễn said...

Jone Mccain: You falled in Viet Nam and you falling in US

Paco Wové said...

"So ultimately who really won?"

North Vietnam?

Robert Cook said...

"Bing is the Hans Blix of search engines."

Meaning? That it's accurate and tells the truth without fear or favor?

Robert Cook said...

"The practical consequence and hard realitiy of the war was a decimated and impoverished population living in squalor and misery. They didn't win a single thing."

They succeeded in forcing an invading force (of vastly greater wealth and power) to leave their land.

Robert Cook said...

"Our own media willingly made sure we would lose the war. Our defeat was from within."

It it makes you feel better to entertain such fantasies....

Glen Filthie said...

McCain is an idiot. He was defeated by the greasy peaceniks, pacifists and liberals at home, not by some third world morons.

Good grief. That idiot, more than most, should know that if democrats and leftists have a say in military affairs - defeat is the only outcome possible.

Issob Morocco said...

Ah Senator McCain, the goal is to win the war. Furthermore if he never won in battle, how the hell did we lose the war? Your attempt at a backhand diss of Gen. Giap only shows the stupidity of your logic.

Seems to me that McCain needs to retire to Arizona, now.

Issob Morocco said...

Ah Senator McCain, the goal is to win the war. Furthermore if he never won in battle, how the hell did we lose the war? Your attempt at a backhand diss of Gen. Giap only shows the stupidity of your logic.

Seems to me that McCain needs to retire to Arizona, now.

Big Mike said...

Oops. Nixon was elected in 1968 and ran for reelection in 1972. Unlike the Washington Post I will acknowledge my errors.

Paul said...

It was not by battles but by systematic fudging of the count.

You need to read 'Body Counts and the 'successes' in the Vietnam and Korean wars. by Scott Gardner and Marissa Myers.

Also, quite a few books, like '365 Days' point out that when a 'body' was was found and they asked it was enemy the GIs would say, "if it's dead, it's a dink'.


http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Body_count_for_the_vietnam_war_in_1954-1975

It was massive fraud to count civilians dead, blood trails, percentage of wounded by estimation.

And yea, no doubt more Viet-cong died than GIs, but dead does not = won. Every time the NVA/VC wiped out a platoon or company in an ambush they 'won' in the eyes of the press and people (theirs and ours.)

And note, in WW2 if we used 'body count' then the Germans and Japanese should have surrendered long long before they did. Countries surrender when their will is broken, not by body counts.

The NVA and VC's will was never broken, ours was.

Paul said...

I can also give you examples from our own Civil War were battles were fought and one side, Blue or Grey, lost more men but still 'won' the battle. They won because the secured an objective or they kept the other side from doing the same.

In fact look at WW2 and the 'Battle of the Coral Sea'.

We lost more ships yet we 'won' cause we kept the Japanese from invading.

Dr Weevil said...

I'm astonished and disppointed that in 54 comments so far no one has mentioned that it's a lot easier to win a war if you can (a) violate every rule of the Geneva Convention at will, (b) fight an enemy that tries very hard to follow those rules, and (c) have an international press willing to cover up that gross disparity for you. How many Americans realize that Lt. Calley wouldn't even have made the Top 20 list for massacres of civilians if he'd been on the other side? Or that he would have been promoted for what he did, instead of prosecuted? How many know why the South Vietnamese police chief in the famous picture was shooting a young man in the head? (Because the young man had been caught in the act of slaughtering the wives and children of South Vietnamese security men during the Tet Offensive. He was a war criminal, targeting civilians while not wearing a uniform himself, and the police chief had a perfect right to shoot him on the spot.)

Of course, the same goes for our opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've asked before - when people were criticizing Bush's Iraq campaign for the number of casualties - how many of the Americans and American allies killed in Iraq were killed by opponents who were not violating the most basic rules of the Geneva Convention at the time - who were wearing uniforms or 'insignia recognizable at a distance', carrying their weapons openly, and not hiding behind civilians? So far, the only answer I've received is silence. I'm pretty sure the number is less than two percent.

Returning to Vietnam, despite stiff competition, Giap was one of the greatest war criminals of the last century. Rommel at least fought cleanly for a vile cause. (Of course, it's relatively easy to avoid civilian casualties when you're fighting in North Africa, where there are very few civilians, and many of them are nomads who can pack their camels and move away from the fighting.) One can respect Rommel for his military skill while averting one's eyes from the cause he fought for. Giap's tactics and the cause for which he used them were equally contemptible.

Dr Weevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Weevil said...

By the way, does anyone else find "He Beat Us in War but Never in Battle" a poor choice of words for the title of something written by (or for) John McCain about a North Vietnaese? Giap (or men working for him) viciously beat and tortured McCain and his fellow prisoners for years: again a gross violation of the Geneva Convention. Is the body of McCain's piece as masochistically pathetic as the title? I can't stand to even try to read it.

SteveR said...

At this point, its silly to argue about what happened. McCain gets to have his thoughts, for surely he is owed that. Most of us are working from the answer backwards. Let the future decide what went on.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm astonished and disppointed that in 54 comments so far no one has mentioned that it's a lot easier to win a war if you can (a) violate every rule of the Geneva Convention at will...."

And yet despite this, we still lost.

Dr Weevil said...

You really have to be a fool and a swine to write what Robert Cook just wrote - and I'm putting that as kindly as I can.

Paul said...

Question gang...

Did North Vietnam sign the Geneva Convention? If not, why would they have to abide by it?

Oh, and tell me gang, when did we DECLARE WAR ON NORTH VIETNAM?

Please show me the declaration Congress signed. See that is what the Geneva Convention covers. No declaration, no war, no Geneva Convention.

Mexico cops sometimes do to people what the NVA and VC did to McCain.

See gang, war really is hell. We try to make it somewhat more palatable but it is still hell.

Robert Cook said...

Dr. Weevil,

You surely do not mean to suggest that we are fastidious (or even less than fastidious) observers of the Geneva Conventions...do you?

William Chadwick said...

Somewhere in Commie Hell, Obama's daddy and Uncle Frank are gnashing their teeth because Barry didn't fly the White House flag at half-staff. "Didn't we teach that stupid kid anything?"

William Chadwick said...

Somewhere in Commie Hell, Obama's daddy and Uncle Frank are gnashing their teeth because Barry didn't fly the White House flag at half-staff. "Didn't we teach that stupid kid anything?"

Marshal said...

Paul said...
Question gang...

Did North Vietnam sign the Geneva Convention? If not, why would they have to abide by it?


This seems an exercise in missing the point. No one claimed they should abide by it. The claim is that abiding by the laws reduces military effectiveness, a point independent of why they are not doing so.

Austin said...

Just a couple of points. A Declaration of War is not necessary for the Geneva Convention to apply. An armed conflict is sufficient, provided both belligerents are signatories. In the case of the Vietnamese conflict, North Vietnam was not a signatory to the convention, and was therefore, neither responsible to conform to it, or protected by it. We should have nuked those miserable little peasants.

Dr Weevil said...

Robert Cook:
You surely do not mean to suggest that the U.S. has violated the Geneva Convention one-twentieth as much as the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong did, do you? Can you possibly be such a fool as to (a) believe that, or (b) think that you can get away with asserting that something so obviously false is true?

Reminder: During the Tet offensive, the VC buried alive thousands of civilians, including women and children, around Hue. Working for the ARVN government in any capacity - including teacher or mailman - or being related to such a person was enough to earn such a gruesome death. At the same time, the Viet Cong sent armed men not in uniform to break into the ARVN family housing and slaughter the wives and children of soldiers and policemen. American prisoners of war, including McCain, were brutally tortured. Before you say "Abu Ghraib", I will remind you that Americans serving in Iraq went to jail themselves for making Iraqi prisoners (who had no GC rights, since they had violated them themselves) wear panties on their heads.

Paul said...

Marshal,

Ever hear of the term, 'Always cheat, always win"?

Yea the NVA didn't play fair, and yea we drew some lines and said you are a bad guy if you do. That was our problem, not theirs.

So the NVA won cause they were more ruthless, more willing to take casualties, and willing to stay there fighting for 1000 years if need be (just read the book, 'Streets Without Joy" and you will see how long the NVA/VC had been fighting BEFORE they fought us.)

They won battles cause their definition of winning was not body count. Ours was.

Dr Weevil said...

I've never heard "Always cheat, always win", and have nothing but contempt for anyone who takes it as a motto. In any case, the behavior of the NVA and VC was far beyond 'cheating': it was mass murder, war crimes, atrocities, tyranny, all wrapped up together.

I don't care if they didn't sign the Geneva Convention, just as I don't care whether it was technically legal under German law to gas Jews or gypsies, whether Soviet law allowed the starving of Kulaks, whether Saudi law allows (and even encourages) flogging women who have been raped, or whether it is currently legal under Somali law to hijack ships and shoot their crews if they resist. The point of the Geneva Conventions is that they codify some basic minimum requirements for behavior in war that everyone already knew. You can argue about some details and borderline cases: e.g. are some modern tear gases so strong that their use constitutes gas warfare and should be forbidden? But the behavior of the VC and NVA and their masters in Hanoi, and the current behavior of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, are far beyond anything even a fool like Robert Cook can accuse the U.S. of, and constitute far more than merely "cheating".

Paco Wové said...

"Can you possibly be such a fool as to ... think that you can get away with..."

Well, it's not as though his reputation here will suffer.

Paul said...

Dr Weevil,

You need to take a good course for a firearms trainer by the name of Clint Smith (of Thunder Ranch fame.)

'Always cheat, always win' is the motto one uses to survive an attack. You don't play a game by rules. You win. As Miyamoto Musashi said, "the spirit is to win, what ever the method."

Playing by Queensbury Rules, especially the rules we made in Vietnam, are looser rules. Thus we lost in Vietnam.

I'm all for such as the Geneva Convention as long as BOTH sides play by such rules.

We made our 'rules', like no bombing or invasion of North Vietnam and we lost. Gen Gap had no such qualms.

Dr Weevil, as Gen. Sherman said, "war is hell" and he was right.

But you can make it even worse than hell if you add artificial rules that the other side does not play by.

Oh, and as for atrocities, we condemned Germany for bombing of civilians in cities, then we turned around and did the same thing (Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Osaka, etc..)

We ain't no angel at this game either.

Dr Weevil said...

No rules? Really? So we should encourage our troops to eat parts of dead enemies, as some Syrian Jihadists have done? Rape the wives and daughters of the enemy? Plenty of nations do that. Torture children in front of their parents, and vice versa, as both sides in Syria seem to be doing? Slaughter college students asleep in their dorm, like Boko Haram? Torture our prisoners the way the North Vietnamese tortured McCain? Sorry, but that's complete bullshit.

Of course, there are things that are permitted in war that are not allowed in civilian life: building a "bodyguard of lies", for instance, or attacking enemy soldiers when they're asleep in bed on Christmas morning, as George Washington did after crossing the Delaware. I am also in favor of burying Al Qaeda terrorists in pig fat. (We would soon find out how since CAIR and company are when they insist that that terrorists are not "real Muslims": if they're not real Muslims, real Muslims won't mind if they're treated that way.)

But the idea that anything goes, including rape, cannibalism, torture, slaughtering civilians, and so on, including (presumably) use of chemical, nuclear, and biological agents: that is, as I said, bullshit, and shameful bullshit.

And the idea that Johnson and Nixon should be blamed for NOT sinking to the level of the North Vietnames and Viet Cong, rather than blaming the latter for doing so, is disgusting.

Dr Weevil said...

Sorry, "we would soon find out how SINCERE", etc.

AlanKH said...

Meaning? That it's accurate and tells the truth without fear or favor?

Bing is ill-equipped to find stuff. Duh.

Robert Cook said...

"Bing is ill-equipped to find stuff. Duh."

Well, if there's nothing to find, then Bing's lack of findings has to be considered accurate!

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Paul said...

Dr Weevil,

Uh.. we DID use nukes in WW2. And we most certainly DO have them now and would use them if the other side did (and maybe even preemptively.)

My point is, if the opposition does not play by the same rules we do, then we are free to do as we may.

If they play dirty, then by all means we play dirty. Just how low we go will depend on how low the enemy goes.

And things like rape, cutting off ears (or heads as in Detachment 101, of the OSS, the Karens we commanded in WW2 did) do not advance one's war aims.

Phosgene gas, and nukes, do.

Dr Weevil said...

And my point is that we cannot do things just because the enemy does: why do you think raping the enemy's wives and daughters (and husbands and sons, for that matter) doesn't work? Because if it does work, it refutes your argument. I think it is probably quite effective in breaking the enemy's will to continue fighting. It's still wrong. There are some things we shouldn't do, even if the other side does them. I note you omit my cannibalism example.

Paul said...

Dr Weevil,

Russia in WW2 raped millions of German women, and the Germans knew they would do so (as they did in Poland when they first encountered German women.)

This did not break the German's will. In fact it spurred them on to do anything to stop the Russians.

But again, things like torture does get valuable information. And if the torture is done by the enemy, then so be it we do the same.

And that is why I don't gripe at the drone war in itself. The Muslims use suicide bombers (much like the Kamikaze.) I do gripe at using the drone war as the ONLY policy, as we do today.

Nerve gas? NBC war? Well again, if the enemy signs agreements not to use such, ok, we will abide if they do. But if they do not sign such agreements, well there are no rules.

Dr Weevil said...

So if we fight some enemy that hasn't signed the Geneva Conventions, we should go ahead and gas them, nuke them, or infect them all with anthrax or smallpox? No need to replay: it appears that you're an asshole.

Paul said...

Dr Weevil,

If we fight an enemy that has not signed whatever agreements WE have signed, then there is no limit to the methods we can use.

Simple as that.

It does not mean we HAVE to use them, but we can.

This was the mistake of the Geneva Convention. They locked in everyone who signed but did not lock in those that did not sign. Thus Japan in WW2 had no reason to abide by such agreements.

And Dr Weevil,

If Al Qaeda used gas on us, or radiological weapons, or anything like that then I would feel the U.S. is not bound to any rules that disallow such weapons.

And since they do use torture, I see no reason we can't. Does not mean we have to, but we can. They have signed no agreements with anyone thus all is fair.