The weekend "Must Read" is not online yet but watch this space - the NY Times magazine will have a cover story by Peter Maass titled "The Salvadorization of Iraq". [Story here. Sir Humphrey delivers a good review.]
The author follows one of Iraq's top generals, whose US advisor, James Steele, led and trained Special Forces in El Salvador.
The theme - do we want to win if we have to be this nasty?
Also, the NY Times magazine spends time with Jack Abramoff, a rising star of the Tom DeLay scandals. I can't even tell you if they make news (but others will!).
Finally, sexism in the art world - why is contemporary work by women consistently less valuable than work by men?
I have a theory so sexist I daren't reveal it, at least until I can run it past a couple of friends of mine who work at the auction houses.
The War We Could Have Won
For all the claims of popular support for the Vietcong insurgency, far more South Vietnamese peasants fought on the side of Saigon than on the side of Hanoi. The Vietcong were basically defeated by the beginning of 1972, which is why the North Vietnamese launched a huge conventional offensive at the end of March that year. During the Easter Offensive of 1972 - at the time the biggest campaign of the war - the South Vietnamese Army was able to hold onto every one of the 44 provincial capitals except Quang Tri, which it regained a few months later. The South Vietnamese relied on American air support during that offensive.
If the United States had provided that level of support in 1975, when South Vietnam collapsed in the face of another North Vietnamese offensive, the outcome might have been at least the same as in 1972. But intense lobbying of Congress by the antiwar movement, especially in the context of the Watergate scandal, helped to drive cutbacks of American aid in 1974.
...In 1974-75, the United States snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Hundreds of thousands of our Vietnamese allies were incarcerated, and more than a million driven into exile. The awesome image of the United States was diminished, and its enemies were thereby emboldened, drawing the United States into new conflicts by proxy in Afghanistan, Africa and Latin America. And the bitterness of so many American war veterans, who saw their sacrifices so casually demeaned and unnecessarily squandered, haunts American society and political life to this day.