At home and abroad:
Two views of gulf crisis
This runs behind the soldier
The current anti-war "movement" in the United States certainly has a noble cause, yet the members' efforts are somewhat misplaced, and their sense of history slightly is lacking.
At the recent Boston peace rally, Hampshire College Professor Michael Klare stated that "war is likely because Bush has ruled out any other possibility" ["10,000 rally against Mideast war," Dec. 4]. Does Klare have some inside connection to the president that the rest of us are not privy to?
It seems far more likely that George Bush is following a policy which takes into account some important lessons from recent history, namely Munich, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
The Munich agreement of 1938 was an effort to halt the growth of German Nazi control. It was hoped that Hitler would be satisfied once he was in possession
of Austria and the Sudetenland, but as we know, the policy of appeasement did not satiate the Nazi appetite for expansion. Chamberlain's "Peace in Our Time" simply did not come to pass.
Johnson's Vietnam policy of gradual escalation was designed to stop North Vietnamese aggression with the minimum use of American troops and materials. This gave the enemy opportunity to rebuild their
own forces and allowed them to spread their losses over an extended timeframe.
Combined with the limited effectiveness of advanced weapons against dispersed targets, Johnson's plan could only lead to a stalemate in Southeast Asia. The Vietnam model will not apply in Kuwait for two reasons. If we do go to war, it will not be a slow, overcautious application of force, but a crushing blow of all available resources.
Also, Iraq's army is more comparable to the classic Western army, and there will be no shortage of hard military targets
for our airpower and advanced weapons.
The main lesson to be learned from the "victory" over communism in the Cold War has been the success of deterrence. The buildup of a credible defense against communist expansion is all that kept the Warsaw Pact in check for 40 years.
The Soviet Union knew that it could not recklessly expand without the resistance of a powerful United States. Limited in their ability to expand and gain more resources by force, the Soviet Union eventually fell victim to its own economic and bureaucratic system.
Obviously, Bush has taken all of these lessons into account in planning a Persian Gulf strategy. The only way to avoid war is to convince the Iraqis that we are willing to fight one and that we have the means to do so.
Bush cannot whisper aside to the American populace, "Pssst . . . I'm not really trying to start a war, I'm just trying to make Saddam Hussein realize that a war with the United States is patently unwinnable for Iraq and probable if he doesn't quit Kuwait. Don't tell any of our Iraqi friends. . . ."
It is simply unrealistic to ask the president to explicitly lay all his cards on the table. The first rule of negotiation is to do so from a position of strength. Our buildup of weapons and troops in the Persian Gulf area lends credence to our demands for an Iraqi withdrawal.
The additional troops recently sent to the gulf make war less likely, not more so. Therefore, the best way to work for peace in the Middle East is to support the president and back our commitment to calling for an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
Timothy M. Townsend '90->