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Time: 10:09:33 AM
I can't speak for anyone else and I won't try.
For myself, I interpreted your post about the Germans and the Japanese in WW II vs. the Afghans in this war the same way you just explained it. I'm sure that's mostly a function of how well I know your feelings about issues of racism and your style of expressing yourself about issues of war and peace. I think that a person would have to have a good grounding in both of those things to get the message you intended. The German war machine was not the German "race." The Japanese war machine was not the Japanese "race." The Taliban is not the Afghan "race." But in these times when it is so easy to read what others are saying about Moslems or Arabs as though they constituted a race apart from the human race, I think it's good for all of us to stay on our toes about the language we use to talk about the enemy. I was glad to see your post and Keith's.
Keith went out of his way to say that he was not talking about your personal feelings (I didn't think that was necessary because I knew what he was talking about) but the apparent inconsistency of acknowledging that people are people and then distinguishing between them by nationality (race). In combat a soldier is a solder, but who wins and loses is decided by a hell of a lot of factors including the structure, training, equipment, leadership and moral support (war propaganda) of the army he's in.
The Vietcong were supposed to be the best jungle fighters in the world. Maybe they were at one time and their ingenious systems of tunnels and camouflaged base camps were definitely a challenge. But by the time I got to Vietnam the Vietcong no longer existed as an effective fighting force. I quickly lost respect for their fighting skill and courage in a straight up fight. They simply were not the great warriors my predecessors faced between 1965 and 1969. The only real advantage they had was in the American mass media were all they had to do was avoid total annihilation (run and hide) and kill a few of us (mostly by ambush) to be proclaimed "unbeatable."
In Dessert Storm the pendants said that the Americans would never be able to get through Saddam's dessert minefield. They said it was "impossible" and therefore foolish to attempt. As a former combat engineer I knew that was nonsense. The pendants said that American tanks would get bogged down in the sand (they said the same thing about our heavy equipment in the Vietnamese mud) and our troops would be slaughtered like lambs in a cage full of hungry panthers. I knew that they were wrong. When the American 10th Mountain Brigade (a strike force like the 173rd in Vietnam) was mobilized for combat in Bosnia, the bad guys backed right down and the 10th didn't even have to trade bullets to win the campaign. Until then, I had never heard of the 10th Mountain Brigade. But when I saw them, dressed for snow, loaded for bear and ready to go, I knew that nobody in his right mind would want to go up against them. If Saddam Hussein had understood what he was up against with the Armed Force of the Untied States and Great Briton there never would have been a Gulf War.
Whenever you are stuck by the ferocity of the enemy, the inhospitality of the weather OR the difficulty of the terrain you need to remember a three-part component of basic military tactics called "the order of battle." The order of battle is: Enemy, weather AND terrain. That's it. If you underestimate any of them you are going to loose.
If our media don't turn against us when something goes terribly wrong, the Taliban's terrain advantage will soon disappear -- if it ever existed -- and they will come face to face with the fact that the order of battle has already sealed its doom. It has underestimated the enemy. -- Jasper