There can be no comparison to the sheer violence and extreme inhumanity of the Vietnam War. It is critically important for me to start off with that sentence because I do not want ANYONE to think, even for a millisecond that I am drawing a comparison between the devastating price of the Vietnam war on its veterans with the comparatively miniscule casualty rates suffered in OIF and OEF. Those who went to Vietnam lived through a Hell all their own, and it stands alone as the most brutal and savage conflict in American history, even if other wars have higher total casualty numbers.
Yet there is one thing that OIF, OEF, and Vietnam veterans all share now. That is that they watched all that they had fought for, all that they sacrificed for, all that their friends gave their lives for thrown away in the name of political correctness and political expediency. The voting civilians at home did not like it anymore, so we folded like a deck of cards. And so all that we fought for amounted to nothing because we lacked the will to fight a war.
The similarity between the political handcuffing of our Soldiers in these three conflicts is eerie. The Rules of Engagement (ROE) were designed for a policing action, yet the enemy was clearly at war. What in the world were our politicians thinking?
Oh yes, they were thinking they wanted a "sanitary war." Except there is no such thing.
In war, you either fight to win by utterly crushing your opponent and their will to fight, or you win the hearts and minds of people before you invade and you support their uprising. Three times we have attempted to blend the two, and three times it has failed.
Yes, three times we have entered a war hoping that we could win the hearts and minds of the people along the way and rally them to revolt. Three times it hasn't happened. Three times it has led to failure because the number of people who stood up were never enough.
We fought a war for hearts and minds instead of fighting to win, and so we lost.
I'm sorry, I know my saying so will hurt and upset a lot of people out there, but that is how I feel, and I refuse to apologize for how I feel. I have lost a lot of good people because of this stupid conflict that went on infinitely longer than it should have, and this feels like a complete slap in the face to those of us who bore the brunt of this.
On top of that, however, is the fact that OIF and OEF had a unique psychologically damaging program never before seen in the United States military. They humanized the enemy in an attempt to get us to try to win hearts and minds, and in so doing, they absolutely crushed the psyche of the military members who engaged in combat.
It is already tough for Soldiers to fight thinking about women and children who might be caught in the crossfire, but when they get classes on how the guy shooting at them is just a normal guy who wants to have a farm in his country et al, well, how do you expect them to feel about themselves when the have to do their job and kill him?
This is the kind of politically correct garbage that led to the ROE that crippled the ability of our Armed Forces to fight the war. Instead of utterly crushing the enemy and then helping the good people to rebuild, we attempted to make good people our of the people fighting against us. The problem is that they were not good people, and as soon as we left (or turned out backs) they were terrorizing the good people that we were trying to help.
So if you ask a Veteran, you will not likely find anyone who is surprised that the Taliban waited us out. We refused to go after them in Pakistan, we refused to simply bomb them into the stone age citing collateral damage concerns in largely unpopulated areas, and we started returning combatants from Guantanamo Bay so that they could rally more people to fight against us. We literally let them turn some of the good guys into the bad guys. How is that going to win a war?
And now, the final insult. As we watch Iraq cozy up to Iran and the Taliban claim province after province, we much ask, how long until they're in Kabul? Well, soon enough that the US Military just sent 3,000 troops to Kabul to evacuate American civilians.
Here is the question that Americans should be asking, "How is it possible that after 20 years of fighting there are still enough Taliban fighters to be able to launch an offensive?"
We did not kill them, and we did not win their hearts and minds.
In trying to do the latter we did not do the first, so now we are reaping the whirlwind of our own making.
22 veterans a day die from suicide, and that is with them believing that what they did had merit and worth. Now, how do I look them in the eye and say that what we did was worth a damn? How will this effect them?
I can tell you the answer will not be good.
I know that we were welcomed home to applause while those from Vietnam were spat on, I will not compare us in that way, but I can say now that I understand one thing that those who fought in Vietnam feel, and that is that everything they sacrificed was pointless.
Thanks US Government, nice to know that your vote totals from civilians are more important than the sacrifices of the people who put their lives on the line for this country.
But hey, YOU will stay in power, so who cares about us.
Typical US Government.