Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal remembering North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, who passed away Friday at the age of 102.
Giap, sometimes called the "red Napoleon," drove the French out of Vietnam to free it from colonial rule and later forced the Americans to abandon their grueling effort to save the country from communism
McCain wrote of a meeting between the two, when Giap told McCain he was an "honorable enemy" and said the two "should discuss a future where our countries are not enemies but friends."
Giap was a master of logistics, but his reputation rests on more than that. His victories were achieved by a patient strategy that he and Ho Chi Minh were convinced would succeed—an unwavering resolve to suffer immense casualties and the near total destruction of their country to defeat any adversary, no matter how powerful. "You will kill 10 of us, we will kill one of you," Ho told the French, "but in the end, you will tire of it first."
Giap executed that strategy with an unbending will. The French repulsed wave after wave of frontal attacks at Dien Bien Phu. The 1968 Tet offensive against the U.S. was a military disaster that effectively destroyed the Viet Cong. But Giap persisted and prevailed.
The U.S. never lost a battle against North Vietnam, but it lost the war. Countries, not just their armies, win wars. Giap understood that. We didn't. Americans tired of the dying and the killing before the Vietnamese did. It's hard to defend the morality of the strategy. But you can't deny its success.