Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kissinger Speaks to The Future President.


Henry Kissinger, wrote a book review in the International Herald Tribune, What Vietnam teaches us. The lessons for future Presidents stands out amid the look back at a past war.

He writes:

For America, the Vietnam War was the traumatic event of the second half of the last century....

....For younger leaders, an understanding of the controversies of their fathers has proved elusive, obliging them to slide into the same dilemmas in their contemporary policies.

"Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam" does not fill that vacuum. It does, however, illuminate the five years (1961-1966) during which the defense of South Vietnam was Americanized. Tracing the efforts of one of the most prominent public servants of the time, it seeks to come to terms with America's entry into its tragedy.

The most important element of this review is the sage advice Kissinger offers to future presidents:

1. When the president is asked to consider going to war, he must be presented, above all, with an analysis of the global strategic situation on which the recommendation is based.

2. The purpose of war is victory. Stalemate is a last resort, not a desirable strategic objective.

3. Victory needs to be defined as an outcome achievable in a time period sustainable by American public opinion.
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4. There has to be presented to the president a sustainable diplomatic framework.

5. Diplomacy and strategy must be treated as a whole, not as successive phases of policy.
6. Authority for diplomacy and strategy must be clearly assigned.

7. The administration as well as critics should conduct their debates with the restraint imposed by the knowledge that the unity of our society has been the hope of the world.

Does any else notice the great divide between our current strategy and what Kissinger has written?

The moral found inside Kissinger's review is:

When America goes to war, it should be able to describe to itself how it defines victory and how it proposes to achieve it. Or else how it proposes to end its military engagement and by what diplomacy. In Vietnam, America sent combat forces on behalf of a general notion of credibility and in pursuit of a negotiation whose content was never defined.

Sound familiar?

1 comment:

Yours Truly said...

I don't like this mutha. E pazzo. To think he was an alien from a war torn land. Just sad. Project for a New American Caligula Redux, anyone?