Friday, April 09, 2010

The other side of the, um, jungle?

Following a link to Spencer Ackerman's "Open Letter To The Washington Embassy Of The Bolivaran Republic Of Venezuela,", I found Ackerman's January 2010 open letter to the Center for a New American Security:
It has been brought to my attention that one of the greatest military geniuses of the 20th century, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, is still alive. This is a man from whom the American people, and the U.S. defense community, can learn a ton. You know who Gen. Giap is, of course, but for the uninitiated, he’s the Vietnamese general who patiently and persistently and cunningly won two Vietnam wars against major western powers and ultimately achieved his nation’s most important strategic objective of unifying Vietnam on Communist terms.

There has been much wise talk from the counterinsurgency community about the need to understand a given host-nation population on its terms. Far less discussed, because of the obvious controversy that results, is the need to understand how an enemy competes for the population’s active or passive support. We tend to reduce our insurgent enemies to their brutality or their barbarism; and exalt our own operations as providing security to thwart their rampage. And there’s truth in that. But it neglects the enemy’s strategy; its sophistication; and its advantages in sharing cultural, linguistic and historical bonds to the populace. Who better to challenge those assumptions than a man who actually defeated the U.S. in a war?
That is ... a very good idea. Giap is 98 years old, so I don't know how mentally acute he is, but would you be interested in Napoleon's senile remarks, had he lived to make some? Sure you would.

... In comments, PMS_CC provides some links to interviews etc. w/ Giap. (Thanks!)

1 comment:

  1. I went looking for examples of such remarks--obviously not in the context of Afghanistan or Iraq, but it's still interesting reading.;col1

    All of these date about a decade prior to the time frame we'd love to hear comments on, but I think some sense of what he might say is visible in the interviews.