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Letter: New approach needed to end Mideast conflict

New approach needed to end Mideast conflict

None of the Republican presidential aspirants has served in the military. That does not prevent them from offering military solutions to the Mideast turmoil.

We are engaged in a conflict, not a war. Wars have recognizable enemies and criteria for winning or losing. When President George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” on the aircraft carrier, the Iraq War was over – its leader captured, the army disarmed and disbanded. And yet the situation was far from normal.

Conflicts are not won or lost, they must be resolved. Their resolution may require a combination of military, economic and diplomatic actions. Ground troops are at a disadvantage where they look different from the native population. Witness what happened to French and U.S. forces in Vietnam and Russian forces in Afghanistan. This disadvantage is magnified many times in the Mideast, where it is next to impossible to differentiate between friend and foe.

It remains to be seen whether our current strategy of using very selective intervention by special forces units, together with air strikes, local military ground forces, and economic and diplomatic actions, will be effective. No previous efforts were successful.

Hans G. Reif

World War II Veteran