Reactions 8

Shades of Vietnam, women and the Taliban, and military strategy: more spiked readers give their views.


Topics Politics

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After the attack on America: more spiked readers give their views.

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Nice article (Oh, what a ‘wobbly’ war, 30 October). In the USA, the war has gone through a number of name changes: America’s War, America At War, The War Against Terror, Action Against Terror, Strike Against Terror…presumably, next will be Deep Concern About Terror, fading to Mildly Miffed. Nigel Foster, UK

The end of Mick Hume’s article Now it is war – but for what? (8 October) reminded me of the epilogue of the Vietnam war movie, Platoon. To the haunting strain of Adagio for Strings, Charlie Sheen says: ‘Looking back now we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves – and the enemy was within us.…’ Another voice-over earlier in the film says: ‘We’re going to lose this war. I figure we’ve been kicking people’s asses for so long, it’s time we got ours kicked.’ It is unlikely that the Americans are going to get their butts kicked in Afghanistan. But there do seem to be some parallels, namely that the ‘war’ we have chosen to fight seems to have nothing to do with achieving our overall objectives. If the war in Vietnam was about defeating communism, it failed utterly. Can the military action in Afghanistan in any way ‘eliminate’ terrorism? The objectives of the military action in Afghanistan have been repeated fairly consistently ad nauseam…but I can’t recall exactly what they are. This isn’t because I haven’t heard them enough times, but because, like the five (or is it three?) conditions for joining the Euro, they are vague, subjective and don’t seem to mean much. Zac Grant, UK

A note about carpet bombing (Oh, what a ‘wobbly’ war, 30 October). ‘Shades of Vietnam’ has been the response on prime-time news and from peace protestors. The pictures are evocative to say the least. But back then, the US military elite realised that carpet bombing was an implicit sign of desperation which came after a ground campaign had become bogged down in the face of implacable opposition. There was a recognition then that it signified a failure to inculcate ground troops (conscripts, lest we forget) with sufficient moral fibre to take defeats and come back at the enemy. Is it not significant, then, that such a parlous state of military morale seems already to have been presumed by the adoption of such barbaric tactics before rather than after any testing of (professional) troops on the ground. Contrary to George Bush senior’s declaration after the Gulf War that the USA had kicked the ghost of Vietnam, it seems to have regained enough composure to pilot B52s. Wystan Mayes

This was a most excellent article and I am grateful that somebody finally put this information on a progressive website (Lifting the veil, 30 October). There is a professor at Lewis and Clark college in Portland, Oregon, who is from Afghanistan, and in the August issue of The Portland Alliance he explained the same facts about women in Afghanistan. Curiously, when I sent the information to all my middle-class friends who had been circulating an email petition about women and the Taliban, they were silent. Nobody wanted to read this different perspective. Holly Thau, USA

Why does everybody who’s ever seen The Dirty Dozen somehow feel they are qualified to analyse and approve tactical or strategic decision-making? Thus it is with Josie Appleton’s criticism of the use of fuel air weapons in the battle with the Taliban (Cutting more than daisies, 7 November). I put her remarks in the same box I put the remarks of those who invoke the word ‘Vietnam’, as if it had magical qualities which would somehow make otherwise outraged Americans wither and break off the engagement. Sorry. The word for us isn’t ‘Vietnam’: it is Pearl Harbor. Thom Warren Winfrey

I have seen it often recently – ‘Islam means “peace”‘. It doesn’t. Islam means ‘submit’, in the context of submitting to the will of God. Stewart Paterson, UK

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