Blowback: when your actions lead to unintended consequences.
In 2003 the number of terrorist incidents jumped to their highest number in 20 years, in 2004 that figure tripled, figures for 2005 are on their way. Don't hold your breath. Today's insurgents in Iraq are tomorrow's terrorists? Maybe, parallels with Afghanistan can be drawn but the only comparison many people seem to be making is Vietnam.
I've just finshed reading an interesting essay by Melvin R. Laird, Secretary of Defense under Nixon from 69-73 who orchestrated the US army withdrawl from Vietnam and the empowerment of South Vietnam troops; the kind of thing that Rumsfield hopes to be doing. I'd like to share a few of his thoughts with you, they prove to be quite stimulating on the matter of American foreign policy and it's demand for futile, short-term solutions rather than a long-term investment.
"The resulting legacy [of Vietnam]...has left the United States timourous about war, deeply averse to intervening in even a just cause and dubious of its ability to get out of a war once it is in one. [The Vietnam War] is used as thier bully pulpit to mold an isolationist American foreign policy...Those who wallow in such Vietnam angst would have us be not only reticent to help the rest of the world but ashamed of our ability to do so and doubtful of the value of spreading democracy and of the superirity of freedom itself."
One of his most intriguing statements relates to the politicians role within a time of war: "I cannot speak for the dead or the angry. My voice is that of a policymaker, one who once decided which causes were worth fighting for, how long the fight should last and when it was time to go home." Another on the impact of war reporting on the people back home: "Had the mothers and fathers of US soldiers serving in World War II seen a real-time CNN report of D-day in the style of Saving Private Ryan, they might not have thought Europe was worth saving."
Some food for thought before we gorge ourselves...