Summary: No nation, no matter how powerful, can long prosper (perhaps not even survive) with a broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA loop). Like ours. The primary symptom: an inability to learn. We cannot learn from our peers’ to fix our health care system. We cannot learn from our history to cope with 4GW (eg, foreign insurgencies). Today Tom Engelhardt explains our attempts to forget lessons of the past, and so we repeat them.
The Afghan Syndrome:
Vietnam Has Left Town. Say Hello to the New Syndrome on the Block.
By Tom Engelhardt
Originally published at TomDispatch, 10 April 2012
Reposted with the author’s generous permission.
- The Smog of War
- A Titleholder for Pure, Long-Term Futility
- A Vietnam Analogy Memorial
- About the author
- For more information
(1) The Smog of War
Take off your hat. Taps is playing. Almost four decades late, the Vietnam War and its post-war spawn, the Vietnam Syndrome, are finally heading for their American grave. It may qualify as the longest attempted burial in history. Last words — both eulogies and curses — have been offered too many times to mention, and yet no American administration found the silver bullet that would put that war away for keeps.
Richard Nixon tried to get rid of it while it was still going on by “Vietnamizing” it. Seven years after it ended, Ronald Reagan tried to praise it into the dustbin of history, hailing it as “a noble cause.” Instead, it morphed from a defeat in the imperium into a “syndrome,” an unhealthy aversion to war-making believed to afflict the American people to their core.
A decade later, after the U.S. military smashed Saddam Hussein’s army in Kuwait in the First Gulf War, George H.W. Bush exulted that the country had finally “kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.” As it turned out, despite the organization of massive “victory parades” at home to prove that this hadn’t been Vietnam redux, that war kicked back. Another decade passed and there were H.W.’s son W. and his advisors planning the invasion of Iraq through a haze of Vietnam-constrained obsessions.