TIME THERE'S A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
We're in Round One of a 30-rounder,
and after only a monthlong bombing campaign, the doubting Thomases are already
saying we're bogged down in another no-win war. These naysayers -- many of whose
entire counterinsurgency experience, apart from office politics, consists of movies
like "Apocalypse Now" -- are comparing our efforts in Afghanistan to
BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
This is pure nonsense! There's no similarity except that the terrain in both hot
spots favors guerrilla warfare, and both opponents are clearly fanatics skilled
at hit-and-run ops.
Our opponent in Vietnam was fully backed by the Soviets, the Red Chinese, the
former Warsaw Pact countries and an international peace movement that included
many more Americans than we had soldiers in Vietnam.
Our fight with the Taliban and with international terrorism, on the other hand,
is a just war in which we have the moral right. Sept. 11 got us into this conflict,
and long before 9/11, the Taliban provided sanctuary and support to bin Laden's
murderers as they prepped and launched their strikes on America.
The Reds were based out of Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam, where they trained
and licked their wounds. And from the beginning of the war until its bloody end,
the communist bloc supplied the Viet Reds with tanks, MIGs, SAM missiles and other
gear. Also, by the end of the war, both the Viet Cong and eventually the North
Vietnamese army units that reinforced the VC in the south had the backing of the
majority of the South Vietnamese people, who supported their efforts with volunteers,
supplies and intelligence.
China's Mao Tse-tung likened a guerrilla war to fish and water -- the fish being
the insurgents, the water the people. In the case of Vietnam, the pool was very
deep, and as the war dragged on, it got deeper and was stocked with more and more
But the Taliban army and bin Laden's al Qaeda forces are already fish in a dried-up
swamp heading for the frying pan because they don't have the support of the majority
of the people. The Taliban is a rogue gang that took over Afghanistan at gunpoint
and has employed terror and genocide to stay in control. It has neither nation-state
supporters nor sanctuaries in border countries where it can either stockpile supplies
and equipment needed to fight a strong opponent coming at it from all directions
or else run to when things get hot. And to make things worse, the Taliban has
an armed adversary composed of its own people - supported by the United States,
Russia, China, Iran and scores of other countries -- who want its collective head
on a pike.
Sure, there have been mistakes. And there will be more as the politicians patch
the warring tribes that oppose the gangster government into a united anti-Taliban
coalition. Because these tribes are like our Hatfields and McCoys, we'll need
all of Colin Powell's diplomatic schmoozing to forge them into a cohesive team
and then hold it together. But it will be done. Just as our fighter jocks and
"snake eaters" and those of our allies are getting their act together
a little better with every mission.
The high stakes in this long and different kind of war -- freedom and our way
of life -- are exactly the same as in World War II, but the way it will be fought
will be far different. Unlike when we went after Hitler and Tojo during the Big
War, insiders say that U.S. conventional units won't be taking ground in Afghanistan.
Instead, the troops that take out the Taliban will be made up of Afghan fighters
supported by Special Ops folks and U.S. and Allied air power.
Winning Round One -- Afghanistan -- is more than doable, but it won't be easy.
No war ever goes according to plan or is casualty-free. So there will be reverses,
and more Americans will come home on stretchers or in body bags.
But despite the know-it-all doom-and-gloom gang, Round One will soon move to the
mop-up stage. And when the bell rings for Round Two, Dr. Germ and the Mustached
One better have a deep bunker.
America will win this long war.
As with WWII, we have no other choice.
is the address of David Hackworth's home page. Sign in for the free weekly Defending
America column at his Web site. Send mail to P.O. Box 11179, Greenwich, CT 06831.
(c) 2001 David H. Hackworth
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.