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November 13, 2003

Major Combat II: Mission Back in Effect

Posted by Phil on November 13, 2003 9:33 AM

You'll never hear it from the White House, but at least Slate's Fred Kaplan acknowledges that the war isn't over:

The latest lesson of the war might be this: Whatever great improvements are wrought in a military force--in the firepower of the weapons, the maneuverability of the troops, the coordination of the individual services, the accuracy of the missiles and bombs--these factors comprise but the first phase of a war. As many predicted all along, the harder and more enduring part is the second phase. Neglecting this truth a few months ago, at the end of the first phase, means that the second phase will now be much harder than it might have been for all concerned.

It's nice to be able to point out that, five months ago, I was not neglecting this truth.

Last night Ted Koppel ran a long piece on the Toledo Blade's investigation into Vietnam War atrocities committed over several months by Tiger Force, an elite Army paratrooper unit. (More on that via Salon--and it's worth the commercial if you haven't read about this yet.)

I missed most of the Nightline piece, but caught Ted's follow-up with two retired military men. After recounting that, in his own experience in Vietnam, he saw how confused and brutal things could easily get on the unit level, he sought to point a crooked finger into the future of our operation in Iraq. One of the military guys was visibly dejected if not disturbed as he agreed that, although Vietnam was very different, the possibility for similar confusion, violence, and polarization of citizens exists in Iraq. Destroying them in order to save them, that sort of thing.

When will they ever learn?