General Cosgrove was wrong on Vietnam (letter)by G. O'NeillNews Weekly
, August 24, 2002
I hope General Peter Cosgrove is sincere when he says "in hindsight it was obvious that Australia's involvement [in Vietnam] was going to be futile", and that he is not just pandering to the political establishment, which recently confirmed his latest promotion.
Some might say that our expensive involvement in East Timor to promote "democracy" was a futile exercise to appease oil companies and marginalise Indonesia in any future oil and gas development.
Others might say that committing troops to Afghanistan and Iraq are simply re-runs of past futile military mistakes.
In his excellent book, Unheralded Victory
, Mark W. Woodruff shows that during the Vietnam war, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese never won a major battle against the Americans.
This opinion is supported by senior North Vietnamese officers who confirmed that their war was all but lost in 1968 with the collapse of the Tet Offensive and subsequent American victories.
The same officers went on to say that their troops were confined to foxholes and tunnels.
The turn-around came with political paralysis in the US, when politicians, under media pressure, lost the will to win, and ultimately abandoned the South Vietnamese.
With such an air of defeatism still permeating the upper echelons of most Western governments, who in their right mind would want to place their life on the line and fight for the grandiose schemes of bumbling politicians. There's a good chance that in a few years time, any campaign will be written off as another "futile mistake".G. O'Neill
South Perth, WA