In the March 22 column “McMaster must puncture Trump’s illusions” Edwin Yoder referenced new NSA director General H.R. McMaster’s book, “Dereliction of Duty.” The book deals with the Vietnam war. McMaster makes the point that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were derelict in advising the president during the war.
Sounds about right, but the argument is weak for the reason that the nature of war demands full commitment. A military man believes that there is a military, i.e., war, solution to every problem. There isn’t of course, but that is the basis for their beliefs. That’s why the leadership of the military was put in a civilian’s hands.
With Vietnam we can kind of see it though. The war was entered into incrementally, bit by bit. Soon we’re in it knee-deep. What do we do? That was LBJ’s dilemma, and it proved his undoing.
With the Iraq war, it’s an altogether different approach. That was not incremental, not anything of the sort. Where were the generals then? Probably suggesting a military solution. The civilian leadership failed the test, starting from the president right down to the Congress who voted in favor of war.
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