Will The Favorite Go The Distance?

by Philip Greenspan

April 14, 2003


The Vietnam War taught the government many lessons in how to successfully wage its future wars. Consequently certain principles were adopted and implemented.

•  Retain the support of the American people. A most important principle: to retain that support, the following principles are required.

•  Do not draft the public's children into the military. Utilize an all volunteer army, navy, air force, etc.

•  Keep military engagements short by employing an overwhelming force.

•  Prevent exposure of ideas, thoughts, images or news items that might negatively impact support of the war effort.

Those factors were prevalent in all the subsequent military actions.

In 1973, conscription was abolished and an all-volunteer military established. Although Congress later restored draft registration no one has been drafted.

Military forces struck very weak opponents: Panama, Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan; or were strictly air or missile attacks: Libya, Sudan, and Afghanistan. Wars that could not be concluded quickly were conducted as part of the multinational NATO force: Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo) or by surrogates: the Contras in Nicaragua.

The media was effectively controlled. Reporters were not permitted to roam freely in the war zones. Their actions were closely monitored. All of their submissions were subjected to censorship. There will be no TV scenes of a GI setting fire to the home of a poor villager. There will be no picture of a nude girl on fire running from the fighting. There will be no picture of a policeman shooting out the brains of a suspected Vietcong.

The multiphase War on Terrorism with a lineup of opponents -- Afghanistan, Iraq, and then presumably Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, North Korea, etc. -- is in its initial phases and already the successful formula is unraveling.

The Afghan phase closely followed the prescribed elements. In the wake of 9/11 strong support was garnered from the public and foreign countries; it was fought against an already prostrate nation; and although much of the country has not been secured and is still in turmoil, the media cover-up creates an impression of a quick US victory.

The administration hawks in their desire to quickly commence Round 2 against Iraq deviated from the blueprint.

The generals were short-changed on their demands for ample troop strength for the operations. The inexperienced draft-dodging war hawks, confident of their superior ability and knowledge, overruled them. Their long-shot gamble appears to have succeeded but it may encourage a recklessness that will cause harm in the future.

They were unable to secure the support of any major power other than Great Britain, and that support is undermined by a substantial backlash amongst the British people.

The most significant failing was the absence of real support within the majority of the American people. It took years for the opposition to the Vietnam War to become as intense as what has emerged in opposition to the War against Iraq.

The hawks are gambling that they can rally the public to its side now that this war seems to be won. As in all wars, there is an upsurge in support with the commencement of hostilities. The hawks anticipate that this early success on the battlefield will augment that support.

All means to win that support are being employed. The toady media performed its tasks beautifully in the pre-war period and can be counted on to continue that role.

The PR flacks are now set to work their magic on the public as well. An initial PR attempt to win the hearts and minds of the American public is the ploy to support those who fight to "save" America.

Will this PR tactic bring positive results? Maybe, but early PR efforts have not panned out. Charlotte Beers, a former chairwoman of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather hired by the administration to improve the US's image, was unable to turn the trick. Opinion around the world is overwhelmingly against the US attack on Iraq.

Whether the Iraq phase of the war is really over is open to question. The joyous demonstrations of the overthrow of Saddam do not necessarily indicate that the Iraqis are welcoming the U.S. for a long-term occupation.

The Shiites in Lebanon welcomed the Israelis but their welcome was short lived. Not only did they later force the Israelis out of the country but their belligerence continues through the actions of suicide bombings of Hezbollah.

With time hostility may appear in Iraq as well and the occupying forces will be targeted. Support for the hawks could rapidly diminish. Rather than avoiding the pitfalls of the Vietnam experience, the U.S. will be replaying that scenario.

Now that Round 2 seems to be almost over the hawks will have to confront more formidable challengers for the following rounds in the War against Terrorism.

Troops are scattered in countries all over the world and more are needed in each succeeding country to be attacked. The volunteer ranks will not be able to field sufficient numbers, even for the hawk's miserly plans. Will a draft be implemented?

If Yes, then just watch those protester numbers soar. And watch how the toady media, after continual complaints from its angered readers, begins to cave and actually starts printing some truthful articles.

Yogi's insightful comment may become appropriate. "It's déjà vu all over again."

Perhaps this is all a dream or an illusion.

But here's a tip: In spite of the all the hype, don't bet on the favorite. The champ won't go the distance!

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Internal Resources

Main Media & Propaganda on Swans

Iraq on Swans

The 1991 Gulf War Rationale - A Swans Dossier


Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).

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Published April 14, 2003
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