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Keeping Score

I decided to tot up the tally. Since 1940, the media have predicted seven out of the last one quagmires.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 01, 2003 04:51 PM
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Excerpt: "I decided to tot up the tally. Since 1940, the media have predicted seven out of the last one quagmires."
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Tracked: April 9, 2003 05:49 PM

Can you elaborate?

Posted by Ilya at April 2, 2003 09:00 AM

I could--it depends on how you count. My point is that of all of our military activities over the past half century or so, there's only been one true quagmire--Vietnam.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 2, 2003 10:03 AM

Do we count Kosovo as a quagmire? After all, we're still there, what, seven years later?

Not that it improves the media's batting average, mind you.

Posted by Jon Acheson at April 2, 2003 11:22 AM

By that standard, WW II and Korea were quagmires, too. We still have troops in Germany (though perhaps not for much longer) and Korea. A quagmire refers to being bogged down militarily, not peacekeeping.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 2, 2003 11:27 AM

If you define "quagmire" as a conflict in a place where we still have troops, then Vietnam wasn't a quagmire, because as far as i know we don't have any military presence there.

Posted by Elizabeth at April 4, 2003 09:56 AM

No, a quagmire is a war in which get bogged down--stalemated, with no obvious resolution. Vietnam is the prototype, and in fact only one that we've ever had.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2003 12:25 PM

We didn't actually get bogged down in Vietnam. We were flat out losing. The senior US military officers at the time were too busy buffing and managing their career progress to want to either report the fact or do anything effective about it.

See e.g. 'About Face' by David Hackworth, who wasn't losing.

Posted by at April 9, 2003 06:06 PM

Hackworth has it wrong because he never understood the objectives. Vietnam wasn't about defeating the NVA. We could have wiped out Hanoi from the air if we'd just wanted that. The objective was to get the Soviets to spend themselves blind paying for the NVA's continued existence. It worked. Unfortunately, the Soviet-sponsored fifth column in the US driving the anti-war movement also succeeded.

Posted by Eric Pobirs at April 9, 2003 11:35 PM

If you read McNamara's memoirs ( he was sec. of defense through '68 ) you'll learn the problem with Vietnam was that there was no objective. There was never any plan to invade North Vietnam ( and risk bringing China into the war ).

The idea that the objective was to provoke Soviet military spending is obviously absurd. That war cost many many times more for the US than it did for the Soviets.

Posted by Tom Lancaster at October 29, 2003 02:59 PM

So? We could afford it. As it turned out in the end, they couldn't...

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 29, 2003 03:01 PM

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