( I am reproducing below an article written by me on June 25,2006)
THE JIHADI VIETCONG
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO.79
We saw in Vietnam a clash of wills between a low-tech Vietcong and hi-tech Americans.
Low-tech ultimately prevailed over hi-tech.
Hi-tech taught the Americans how to kill----more and more.
One lost count of the body-counts projected by the US Army officers in South Vietnam and by Mr.Robert McNamara, the then US Defence Secretary, in Washington DC as indicators that the US was winning the war.
If body-counts alone could win a war, the Americans should have won in Vietnam. They did not.
There is something more to battles than body-counts-----morale,motivation, determination, ability to improvise and faith in oneself. The Vietcong had them in plenty.
In addition, the Vietcong had something more, which ultimately made the difference-----the ability to recover and fight again and again undeterred by all the losses suffered by them at the hands of the American troops, artillery and air force.
The Vietcong were like ants. They kept coming more and more. The more the Americans killed, the more they came. They kept coming out of dozens of ant holes located in foreign territory----in North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.
You cannot destroy ants unless you locate and destroy the ant holes. The American air strikes could not destroy all the ant holes in foreign territory.
They did not even try to destroy those in China lest they provoke Beijing. Their air strikes against those in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were ineffective due to the complicity of the local authorities with the Vietcong.
Ultimately, the hi-tech Americans were overwhelmed by the low-tech ants. They called it quits.
We are seeing in Afghanistan a clash of wills between a low-tech Taliban and the hi-tech forces of the US-led coalition.
The hi-tech of the US-led forces is enabling them to kill more and more.
Body-counts reminiscent of the Vietnam days are back in vogue.
20 Taliban killed, 40 killed, 65 killed, 149 killed......
It goes on and on.
Every time you watch the TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper, you see or hear only body-counts.
To whom did those bodies belong?
To the Taliban as claimed by the US-led forces? Or
To innocent civilians as alleged by the Taliban?
The more the civilians you kill, the more the alienation.
The more the civilians you kill, the more the anger against you.
It is a vicious circle.
The Taliban are like ants. They keep coming more and more. The more the Americans kill, the more they come. They keep coming out of ant holes located in the Wairistan and Balochistan areas of Pakistan.
Instead of focussing on the ant holes from which the ants are entering Afghanistan, the Americans are focussing on the places in Afghanistan which are being invaded by the ants----killing many innocent civilians and driving others to join the ants.
This is like damaging or destroying your house because it is invaded by ants instead of locating the ant holes and destroying them first.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is right.
The US-led forces have to change their methods. They have to attack the sources of terrorism.
They have to destroy the ant holes instead of keeping themselves confined to chasing the ants after they enter Afghanistan.
The American-led forces cannot be successful, despite all their resources and fire power, in destroying the ant holes unless they have the genuine co-operation of the military-dominated Government in Pakistan.
Expectations of such genuine co-operation have proved themselves to be illusory.
The Americans have only one option. Facilitate the coming into power of a genuinely democratic Government, which might co-operate sincerely.
It is better to have a sincere ally, even if it be only half effective, than to have an insincere ally, who feeds the ants while pretending to destroy them.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
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