War is Hell. Losing is Worse.
First, some credentials: I served in the Air Force from 1964 onward, in one capacity or another. As someone who has been transferred from the active force to the retired reserve, I continue to serve, and am ready and willing to be called back to active service, bad back and all, at the President's pleasure. During my 26 years' active and reserve service (22 active, 4 reserve), I served in the imagery intelligence career field. There, I helped develop the information used in constructing war plans, and on several occasions supplied key information necessary for operations plans and emergency response activities. As the saying goes, "been there, done that, have the t-shirt" - or in this case, the medals, ribbons, and performance reports to back up what I say.
I served in Vietnam from October, 1970, to October, 1971 - just one year, not the two or three tours some of the Army people put in. Yet I was there during some of the most interesting events of the war. I had a chance to 'get my feet wet' before the Dewey Canyon II excursion into Laos in February, 1971. I had the unique position of being a part of the Briefing Support team. That unit looked at EVERY SQUARE INCH of imagery taken by all in-country and Navy units, EVERY SINGLE DAY. On several occasions, we received SR-71 imagery and other special imagery that most others didn't get a chance to see. We had a bird's eye view of the entire war - something only a few generals had access to, and most of their information came from us.
The United States didn't "lose" the Vietnam war: Congress and the "leadership" lost the courage to win. We all know what happened after that. The death toll from that cowardice is in the millions, with tens of millions more losing what little freedom they had.
President Bush is in a difficult situation. He's the President, but the Pentagon, the State Department, Congress, and half a dozen other agencies are always trying to second-guess him, and to protect their own turf - and ideas.
The Pentagon has been training officers to fight a land war in Europe for 50 years. It's going to take a decade for the officers that are now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, developing new tactics and new methods of fighting, to work into leadership positions. They will be fought every inch of the way by the "oldtimers". That's going to cost us people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's already costing us support from "home". It's costing the President "approval", although the majority of that is from the constant hammering he's receiving from the mainstream LEFTIST press.
And there are, and have been, some bad ideas. Why al-Sadr is still breathing air, and his "militia" - the privately-owned and supported army not-so-covertly sponsored by the Iranian mullahs - continue to exist is beyond me. At the same time, I'd have nuked Tehran and Qom the first time I found Iranians in Iraq. I don't have the President's patience, and I believe that nutjobs should be handled with the biggest hammer I can wield. Unfortunately, I'm not in charge.
Right now, the best possible result the President could get is for the Iraqi government to give the finger to the Sunnis, go ahead and approve a constitution, and accept the civil war that will result. The US should side with the legitimate government of Iraq (those that approve the new constitution), and waste the Sunnis, chasing them all the way to the Med through Syria, while at the same time crushing Sadr's minnions once and for all. Once that's taken care of, we should build up about eight divisions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and push toward Tehran from east and west. The problem is, we don't have a big enough army to do that, and Congress isn't going to approve a huge expansion, along with the huge cost that would incur. All of us that fought in Vietnam and after are mostly too old to be effective in combat, although we could possibly relieve a few locals to pick up the fight.
We also have to get the rest of the nation to understand that the war on terror is more like the Cold War than World War II. Occupying ground and crushing governments is one thing, but the biggest outcome MUST be a change in the attitude of the Arabs that live there. That's going to take time - possibly decades. Until they can accept that there is the possibility of a government that's NOT made up of the Mullahs or Royals, and that the people will be better off under such government, including the leaders, nothing's going to change. We've seen some of that change taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. We see moderation, appreciation of others, and the acceptance of ideas from others than the fiery spewers of hate in the mosques. It CAN work, but only if we take the long view, and MAKE it work.
Unfortunately, there are those in this nation that want to destroy it. They believe that everything we've ever done as a people is bad, evil, wicked, and wrong, and it all has to be scrapped if the "world" is going to be a better place. They have no proof of this, but facts don't matter to them, only feelings. Those feelings have gotten a minimum of 60 million people killed in the last century, and appear to be heading to an even higher number in this one.
This nation has lots of problems it needs to deal with, both internally and externally. Trying to tear the foundation out from under it isn't going to make anything better for anyone. The people that preach such hate and destruction need to be told forcefully and offen to STFU. They should either offer an alternative that will work - not pie in the sky, but something practical - or get out of the way and let the rest of us continue to make things better for as many as possible. Hate, however, is incompatible with honest thinking. That leaves the left in a very difficult place: all they can do is destroy, and that destruction will destroy them as much as it does anyone else. They're too blinded by their rage to realize that.