Iran and the lessons of Vietnam
Due to the economic sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration, Iran is trying to provoke the U.S. into another one of those interminable Middle East Wars that President Trump was elected, in part, to avoid. The Mullahs hope to win world sympathy for Iran and cause our so-called European allies to pressure the U.S. into reducing the sanctions. Although President Trump understands how to play the geo-political oil game, some of the "hawks" in Washington’s Military-Industrial Complex may not.
To play the game effectively, we must understand what the Mullahs want: 1. The Mullahs want to stay in power. 2. The Mullahs want to see their Shiite sect of Islam prevail over the Sunni sect of Islam. 3. The Mullahs want to use nuclear weapons to defeat the Sunnis and use nuclear weapons to destroy Israel.
What the U.S. should do: Using both public and covert diplomacy, we should tell the ordinary people of Iran that the path to a better, more prosperous, more peaceful life can be attained by overthrowing the Mullah’s dictatorship. Once the Mullahs are overthrown, we will lift all economic sanctions against Iran and help the people of Iran join the community of prosperous, peace-loving nations.
But, in the short term, how should the U.S. respond to the Mullahs violent acts in and around the Persian Gulf? If the Mullahs destroy American lives, we can use submarine-based tomahawk missiles on selected military targets. The U.S. should not use ground forces or manned aircraft, lest the Mullahs capture POWs.
Yet, at the same time, the U.S. should not fall into the trap that a "graduated response" to Iran’s violent acts will modify the "behavior" of the Mullahs. In Vietnam, President Kennedy and President Johnson thought we could modify the behavior of Ho Chi Minh by applying a "graduated response" to Ho’s acts of violence against South Vietnam and against U.S. forces. Wrong! Ho’s behavior remained the same until we lost 58,000 troops, and went home.
Because of current Administration energy policies, the U.S. is now the world’s number one-producer of oil and gas energy. We no longer need oil from the Persian Gulf. But Iran has a desperate need to sell its oil. Over 90-percent of Red China’s oil comes from the Persian Gulf. If Iran continues to attack oil tankers and closes the Persian Gulf, we should not stand in their way. Do not interrupt when your opponent is committing financial suicide.
When Iranian violence against oil shipping reaches a certain level, the maritime insurance companies will raise their "war risk" rates beyond affordability. Ship owners and ship brokers will move shipping to less troubled waters. The Iranian currency, the Rial, will be of zero value.
Red China will have to turn to the U.S. and Russia for oil and gas. No worries. A stronger Russian economy means Russia is less likely to be aggressive against its Baltic neighbors and in Ukraine. A win-win for all.
These are all geo-political lessons we should have learned from the Vietnam War and they are explained in detail in my soon-to-be-published history of the Vietnam War entitled: Formula For Failure in Vietnam: The Folly of Limited Warfare.
©2019. William Hamilton.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). "Central View," can also be seen at: www.central-view.com.