- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009


Reading “Vietnam myths haunt Afghanistan” (Opinion, Wednesday) reminds me of the evening that my wife and I spent with Adm. Jeremiah A. Denton Jr. My father, a Korean War veteran and former Marine, accompanied us. My wife and I felt humbled and honored to listen to the self-effacing conversation between these two men who had experienced so much tribulation in the defense of their country and its principles.

Having said this, I respectfully suggest that those “myths of the antiwar left” that were enumerated - “that the Vietnam War was unjust” and “that the [Vietnam] war was not winnable” - need to be supplemented with this sobering myth: Technological superiority and good soldiers can prevail in a lengthy war absent the resolve of the supporting society. History has demonstrated repeatedly that, in a lengthy conflict, technological superiority on the battlefield is less important than the resolve of the contesting populations.

In the first century A.D., a powerful Roman army was destroyed by Germanic tribes, which, though inferior militarily, were willing to sacrifice anything to repel the Roman invasion. Augustus and the Roman people were far less committed than their German enemies; instead of renewing the battle with their superior forces, Rome retreated to the German borders. Vietnam imparted a similar lesson. Even Adolf Hitler’s powerful army could not have withstood the fully committed resistance of the Western democracies at the onset of the war. This has nothing to do with the justice of a cause and everything to do with a nation’s resolve.

Post-World War II American society is poorly equipped, psychologically and emotionally, for lengthy wars. We need to look in a mirror and think about what this means for the future of the American experiment in human liberty and justice. Absent this resolve, an enemy need not win battles to prevail. Unfortunately, our enemies know this, too.


Plymouth, Mich.

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