But as every virus also this one needs predisposition in society to survive and multiply. So, the feeling is here, it is real, and we all know that at the end of the day nothing will be the same as it was before. And the war of the words will have its winners and losers, but who will end it, if we are searching for the enemy and the enemy is inside us?
Bratislava Policy Institute Executive Director. Over the past several years, it has become ever more apparent that the post-Cold War era of democratic reform, socio-economic development and Western integration in Central Europe is coming to an end.
Roots of the Vietnam War
Visegrad Insight is published by the Res Publica Foundation. This special edition has been prepared in cooperation with the German-Marshall Fund of the U. Words at War In the past thirty-eight months, the political climate in Slovakia changed. Many Winners and One Loser So, everything goes in our land; former social democrats are calling for protection against multiculturalism while spreading conspiracy theories against the traditional society.
Eisenhower had pledged his firm support to Diem and South Vietnam. Though the NLF claimed to be autonomous and that most of its members were not communists, many in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi. A team sent by President John F. Kennedy in to report on conditions in South Vietnam advised a build-up of American military, economic and technical aid in order to help Diem confront the Viet Cong threat.
By , the U. A coup by some of his own generals succeeded in toppling and killing Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, in November , three weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Congress soon passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution , which gave Johnson broad war-making powers, and U. The bombing campaign was meant to disrupt the flow of supplies across the Ho Chi Minh trail into Vietnam and to prevent the rise of the Pathet Lao, or Lao communist forces.
The U. In March , Johnson made the decision—with solid support from the American public—to send U. By June, 82, combat troops were stationed in Vietnam, and military leaders were calling for , more by the end of to shore up the struggling South Vietnamese army. Despite the concerns of some of his advisers about this escalation, and about the entire war effort amid a growing anti-war movement , Johnson authorized the immediate dispatch of , troops at the end of July and another , in In contrast to the air attacks on North Vietnam, the U.
Westmoreland pursued a policy of attrition, aiming to kill as many enemy troops as possible rather than trying to secure territory. Heavy bombing by B aircraft or shelling made these zones uninhabitable, as refugees poured into camps in designated safe areas near Saigon and other cities. Even as the enemy body count at times exaggerated by U. Additionally, supported by aid from China and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam strengthened its air defenses.
By November , the number of American troops in Vietnam was approaching ,, and U. The later years of the war saw increased physical and psychological deterioration among American soldiers—both volunteers and draftees—including drug use , post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD , mutinies and attacks by soldiers against officers and noncommissioned officers. Between July and December , more than , U. Bombarded by horrific images of the war on their televisions, Americans on the home front turned against the war as well: In October , some 35, demonstrators staged a massive Vietnam War protest outside the Pentagon.
Opponents of the war argued that civilians, not enemy combatants, were the primary victims and that the United States was supporting a corrupt dictatorship in Saigon. On January 31, , some 70, DRV forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap launched the Tet Offensive named for the lunar new year , a coordinated series of fierce attacks on more than cities and towns in South Vietnam. Taken by surprise, U.
Reports of the Tet Offensive stunned the U.
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With his approval ratings dropping in an election year, Johnson called a halt to bombing in much of North Vietnam though bombings continued in the south and promised to dedicate the rest of his term to seeking peace rather than reelection. Despite the later inclusion of the South Vietnamese and the NLF, the dialogue soon reached an impasse, and after a bitter election season marred by violence, Republican Richard M.
Nixon won the presidency. In an attempt to limit the volume of American casualties, he announced a program called Vietnamization : withdrawing U.
"We have met the enemy and they are ours"
In addition to this Vietnamization policy, Nixon continued public peace talks in Paris, adding higher-level secret talks conducted by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger beginning in the spring of The North Vietnamese continued to insist on complete and unconditional U. The next few years would bring even more carnage, including the horrifying revelation that U. James Kunder, a former marine and the acting deputy of the U. During Vietnam, his agency had fifteen thousand employees; it now has two thousand.
After the end of the Cold War, foreign-service and aid budgets were sharply cut. The office would be able to tap into contingency funds and would allow cabinet-department officials, along with congressional staff people and civilian experts, to carry out overseas operations to help stabilize and rebuild failed states and societies shattered by war—to do it deliberately and well rather than in the ad-hoc fashion that has characterized interventions from Somalia and Kosovo to Iraq. Lugar envisioned both an active-duty contingent and a reserve corps.
But Colin Powell, then the Secretary of State, and other Administration officials refused to give it strong backing. Then, in the summer of , the Administration reversed course by announcing the creation, in the State Department, of the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization; the office was given the imprimatur of National Security Presidential Directive But the new office was virtually orphaned at birth. Congress provided only seven million of the hundred million dollars requested by the Administration, which never made the office a top Presidential priority.
The State Department has contributed fifteen officials who can manage overseas operations, but other agencies have offered nothing. Frederick Barton, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, considers failures like these to be a prime cause of American setbacks in fighting global jihadism. Yet it has spent less than a billion dollars on aid for education and economic development, in a country where Islamist madrassas and joblessness contribute to the radicalization of young people.
On a recent visit to Nigeria, Barton heard that American propaganda efforts are being outclassed by those of the Iranians and the Saudis. We are sclerotic, bureaucratic, lumbering—you can see the U. If, as Kilcullen says, the global counterinsurgency is primarily an information war, one place where American strategy should be executed is the State Department office of Karen Hughes, the Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
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Hughes is a longtime Bush adviser from Texas. Last year, she sent out a memo to American embassies urging diplomats to make themselves widely available to the local press, but she also warned them against saying anything that might seem to deviate from Administration policy. When you do strategic communications, it fails, because nothing gets out. The V. The decision was later overruled. After the Cold War, the government closed down the United States Information Service and, with it, a number of libraries and cultural centers around the world.
Since September 11th, there has been an attempt to revive such public diplomacy, but, with American embassies now barricaded or built far from city centers, only the most dedicated local people will use their resources.
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To circumvent this problem, the State Department has established what it calls American Corners—rooms or shelves in foreign libraries dedicated to American books and culture. She recently visited the American Corner in the main library in Kano, Nigeria, a center of Islamic learning. In general, though, there is little organized American effort to rebut the jihadist conspiracy theories that circulate daily among the Muslims living in populous countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nigeria. According to the expert, an American diplomat with years of experience identified another obstacle to American outreach.
I once asked David Kilcullen if he thought that America was fundamentally able to deal with the global jihad. Kilcullen reminded me that there was a precedent for American success in a sustained struggle with a formidable enemy. This is a long way to go here. President Bush has used the Cold War as an inspirational analogy almost from the beginning of the war on terror. Truman, who was reviled in his last years in office but has been vindicated by history as a plainspoken visionary. A Bush speech gives only the uplift—which suggests that there is no strategy beyond it. Buckley, Jr.
Kilcullen is attempting to revive a strain of Cold War thought that saw the confrontation with Communism not primarily as a blunt military struggle but as a subtle propaganda war that required deep knowledge of diverse enemies and civilian populations. After September 11th, Sageman traced the paths of a hundred and seventy-two alienated young Muslims who joined the jihad, and found that the common ground lay not in personal pathology, poverty, or religious belief but in social bonds.
Knowing the Enemy
At the bottom is the vast population of mainstream Muslims, who are potential allies against radical Islamism as well as potential targets of subversion, and whose grievances can be addressed by political reform. Some of these join radical groups, like the young Muslims in North London who spend afternoons at the local community center watching jihadist videos. The very small number of fighters who are recruited to the top tier of Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups are beyond persuasion or conversion. When I asked him to outline a counter-propaganda strategy, he described three basic methods.
And we might need to consider creating or supporting the creation of rival organizations. A favorite Kilcullen example from the Cold War is left-wing anti-Communist trade unions, which gave the working class in Western Europe an outlet for its grievances without driving it into the arms of the Soviet Union. The U. Thomas Barnett, a military analyst, proposes dividing the Department of Defense into two sections: one to fight big wars and one for insurgencies and nation-building.
He thinks that the entire national-security bureaucracy, which was essentially set in place at the start of the Cold War, is incapable of dealing with the new threats and should be overhauled, so that the government can work faster to prevent conflicts or to intervene early.
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Traditional diplomacy, with its emphasis on treaties and geopolitical debates, is less relevant than the ability to understand and influence foreign populations—not in their councils of state but in their villages and slums. At the highest levels of Western governments, the failure of traditional approaches to counter the jihadist threat has had a paralyzing effect.
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