Tough Guys

This quote, a dissenting view from Jeffrey Goldberg’s lengthy piece on McCain’s views on preemption, stood out because it called to mind a friend’s observation that the Vietnamese are the only battlefield enemy we’ve faced that didn’t crumble under the weight of B-52 strikes:

“We lost in Vietnam because we got beat,” Andrew J. Bacevich, an international-relations scholar at Boston University and a Vietnam veteran, told me. “I served during the period when Abrams was supposedly winning the war, and what I saw there [in the Central Highlands of Vietnam] makes it impossible for me to believe that we were winning. That’s a personal statement, not a scholarly judgment, but what I saw were South Vietnamese forces that were utterly incapable, a South Vietnamese government that was utterly ineffective, and an American Army that was falling apart.” 

My friend’s takeaway point was that the outcome of the Vietnam War said more about the North Vietnamese than it said about us. They’re pure warriors and damn near impossible to beat on their home ground.

Goldberg’s article is worth reading in full.

Dept. of Unfortunate Comparisons

Elp the blogger likens the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the old F-105. Ouch. For those not in the know, the F-105, aka the “Thud,” was part of the USAF stable of early- and mid-60s fighters that helped make the North Vietnamese look like the second coming of Oswald Boelcke’s Flying Circus.

Crossed Out

Andrew Sullivan’s suspicion that McCain embellished or out-and-out-invented the story of a Vietnamese guard’s drawing a cross in the ground to cheer him up one Christmas may be off base, or maybe even just mean. But … I can’t dismiss it. The NVA who guarded our guys were notoriously tough and brutal. Most of them should’ve been hung long ago as war criminals (though, granted, a lot of them no doubt honestly felt the same way about the pilots they were guarding). I don’t feature any of them doing anything to help a POW, especially one as non-cooperative as McCain.