Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Van Creveld (Continued)

(Interviewer): You believe the current US involvement in Iraq will end up like the Vietnam War. What are the major parallels? In a more philosophical sense, why do we as human beings do not tend to learn from our history and past mistakes, especially in a serious matter as warfare?

Martin van Creveld: Both Iraq and Vietnam are, to use the terminology I developed in The Transformation of War, non-trinitarian conflicts. Experience shows that almost all countries that tried to fight such wars from, let us say, 1941 on, have lost, as did the U.S itself in both Vietnam and Somalia. Why should the war in Iraq end up differently?

Concerning the second question, you really should ask Mr. Bush. According to Carl Woodward's Bush at War, which has many verbatim reports of the decision- making process that led to Iraq, Bush, repeatedly referred to Vietnam, adding that "I am not stupid". Why, assuming the reports are correct, he nevertheless decided to go to war escapes me and will no doubt preoccupy historians to come.

(Interviewer): It has been said there are two major camps in the US military leadership: Those who follow the principles of Clausewitz and those who follow the principles of Sun Tzu. Do you agree in general? If so, which of the two ideas do you think will apply more in future wars? If not, what doctrines or sets of principles do you see the US military leadership following?

van Creveld: I doubt whether the U.S military leadership has followed either Clausewitz or Sun Tzu, or else it would hardly have gotten itself involved in an unwinnable war in Iraq.

Read the whole van Creveld interview here.

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