Among things asserted in the letter, “Our failure to learn from the past”: 1) “The lesson we learned in Vietnam was that when politicians run the war they try not to lose, rather than trying to win, but you take casualties and in the end you lose.” 2) “Wars are won when you kill enough of the bad guys to make them stop, not through negotiation.”
Gen. Giap, who led the North Vietnamese forces, viewed human life as being of no value and was prepared to send hundreds of thousands of his men to die for the cause. Unencumbered by democracy, he was free to pursue his goals without regard to the will of the people. Thus, it seems probable that we would have needed to continue our efforts for quite some time before we could “kill enough of the bad guys to make them stop.”
As a Vietnam veteran, I would pose the following questions to the writer: Had the decision been his to make without any political restraints, how many more of us would he have been willing to sacrifice in pursuit of uncertain victory? How many more children, killed or running aflame in terror from their napalmed villages, would he deem acceptable? With all due respect, offering callous and overly simplistic solutions to this complex issue is an affront to any responsible discussion of the topic.