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October 19, 2006

Media's Tet Offensive Sapping Our Will

Did you happen to catch the headlines this morning? From all accounts an historic event occurred; a watershed of epic proportions. In a war where our side has suffered endless setbacks we finally saw the first glimmering of clear and unequivocal victory, long past the time when reason or even blind hope could have predicted it. But all the same, there it was this morning; the words fairly lighting up screen as if to say, "Mission Accomplished":

BUSH ACKNOWLEDGES IRAQ-VIETNAM WAR COMPARISON.

How many men died to make that dream a reality? Yes, the President of the United States finally admitted what legions of anonymous Pentagon insiders have whispered amongst themselves, but only brave truth tellers like Keith Olbermann had the courage to speak publicly in that forbidding Climate of Fear in which we find ourselves, post-9/11:

Bush said insurgents are trying "to inflict enough damage that we'd leave."

Still, it was shocking to hear the words spoken out loud. Everything the insurgents have done to this point has been with one goal in mind: to secure our withdrawal. But why do they want us to leave?

No obstacle now prevents them from participating in the democratic process - none at all. But the insurgents are not content to share power with their countrymen. These criminals want to force their views on an unwilling populace at gunpoint, a dream they can only acheive with our help: help the aimless Bush administration has so far refused to provide. Fortunately, men like John Murtha and his Defeatocrats have a Plan to save the day. We can make everyone happy except, perhaps, the provisional government of Iraq (which has asked us to stay) and the innocent Iraqis who will be slaughtered by out of control militias of course, but no matter. We need only renege on our promises and leave the peaceful citizens of Baghdad defenseless against violent men who refuse to respect the rule of law. Surely with the irritating effect of our presence removed the insurgents will mend their evil ways and suddenly become fans of democracy, though they've shown no signs of democratic leanings so far. Surely they will suddenly become fans of law and order. Surely Iraq will not become another South Vietnam. After all, there are no boats in Iraq, are there? And with the media retreat from Iraq all but complete, America won't have to witness the ensuing bloodbath. It will be just like it was in the good old days when Saddam was in charge: an orderly solution.

We can go back to watching ElimiDate and American Idol. This is, after all, not our problem.

They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to foment sectarian violence," he said.

The insurgents are trying to turn the Iraqis against each other, trying to foment civil war. Divide and conquer: the oldest strategy in the book. Foreign fighters from outside Iraq are trying to tear Iraq into pieces, and yet the solution of men like James Baker is to talk to our enemies, Iran and Syria, who surely have America's long-term regional interests at heart. No doubt those profoundly democratic regimes will support the fledgling Iraqi government in its attempts to instill respect for human rights and the rule of law.

What is even more heartening is that instead of supporting the Iraqi government, the vast punditocracy, including much of the American Right, has already declared defeat in the name of a return to "realism". This is the response to the gallantry of those purple fingers in that long-ago January election. While Iraq was dodging bullets and burying its dead, America decided the war was cutting into time better spent cruising the aisles at Costco and loading up on jumbo-sized packages of breakfast muffins, chili lime hot wings, and pesto.

But then that is the mark of a civilized nation, isn't it? That is what makes us, unlike them, ready for democracy: the ability to set priorities and stick to them; the ability to be realistic.

Perhaps the saddest thing in all of this is that we have pulled the wool over our own eyes. Since the very beginning of this war, the media have trumpeted the Iraq=Vietnam comparison.

Since the very beginning of this war, some conservative pundits, including this author, have pointed up the irony of that analogy. For Vietnam was won on the battlefield and lost in the newspapers and TV screens of America. It was lost on Capitol Hill. It was a failure of political will, not military force. Fifty-five thousand American men and women died...for nothing. We literally threw their lives away, because we were faithless.

And then we compounded our sin, because after we withdrew from Vietnam we had promised South Vietnam military aid, and we were providing it. South Vietnam was continuing to fight, and they were holding their own. Melvin Laird, SecDef at the time, speaks eloquently of what happens to the powerless when America "forgets" her promises:


The truth about Vietnam that revisionist historians conveniently forget is that the United States had not lost when we withdrew in 1973. In fact, we grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory two years later when Congress cut off the funding for South Vietnam that had allowed it to continue to fight on its own. Over the four years of Nixon's first term, I had cautiously engineered the withdrawal of the majority of our forces while building up South Vietnam's ability to defend itself. My colleague and friend Henry Kissinger, meanwhile, had negotiated a viable agreement between North and South Vietnam, which was signed in January 1973. It allowed for the United States to withdraw completely its few remaining troops and for the United States and the Soviet Union to continue funding their respective allies in the war at a specified level. Each superpower was permitted to pay for replacement arms and equipment. Documents released from North Vietnamese historical files in recent years have proved that the Soviets violated the treaty from the moment the ink was dry, continuing to send more than $1 billion a year to Hanoi. The United States barely stuck to the allowed amount of military aid for two years, and that was a mere fraction of the Soviet contribution.

Yet during those two years, South Vietnam held its own courageously and respectably against a better-bankrolled enemy. Peace talks continued between the North and the South until the day in 1975 when Congress cut off U.S. funding. The Communists walked out of the talks and never returned. Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun. We saved a mere $297 million a year and in the process doomed South Vietnam, which had been ably fighting the war without our troops since 1973.

I believed then and still believe today that given enough outside resources, South Vietnam was capable of defending itself, just as I believe Iraq can do the same now. From the Tet offensive in 1968 up to the fall of Saigon in 1975, South Vietnam never lost a major battle. The Tet offensive itself was a victory for South Vietnam and devastated the North Vietnamese army, which lost 289,000 men in 1968 alone. Yet the overriding media portrayal of the Tet offensive and the war thereafter was that of defeat for the United States and the Saigon government. Just so, the overriding media portrayal of the Iraq war is one of failure and futility.

Vietnam gave the United States the reputation for not supporting its allies. The shame of Vietnam is not that we were there in the first place, but that we betrayed our ally in the end. It was Congress that turned its back on the promises of the Paris accord. The president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense must share the blame. In the end, they did not stand up for the commitments our nation had made to South Vietnam. Any president or cabinet officer who is turned down by Congress when he asks for funding for a matter of national security or defense simply has not tried hard enough. There is no excuse for that failure.

Mr. Laird is right. There is no excuse for that failure.

What's worse, the American media, aided by shameless politicians like John Murtha, have relentlessly cheerled an effort to drive us out of Iraq, despite their own admissions that they know this is precisely what the insurgents want. In a recent piece for the New York Times, Tom Friedman admits as much:

...while there may be no single hand coordinating the upsurge in violence in Iraq, enough people seem to be deliberately stoking the fires there before our election that the parallel with Tet is not inappropriate. The jihadists want to sow so much havoc that Bush supporters will be defeated in the midterms and the president will face a revolt from his own party, as well as from Democrats, if he does not begin a pullout from Iraq.

The jihadists follow our politics much more closely than people realize. A friend at the Pentagon just sent me a post by the “Global Islamic Media Front” carried by the jihadist Web site Ana al-Muslim on Aug. 11. It begins: “The people of jihad need to carry out a media war that is parallel to the military war and exert all possible efforts to wage it successfully. This is because we can observe the effect that the media have on nations to make them either support or reject an issue.”

If there was ever an admission against interest, this is it. Or is it, at long last, simply a declaration of allegiance?

The media are being used, and they know they are being used. They have known it since the war began. They know their goals are aligned with the goals of terrorists, murderers, criminals. And yet, though this is undeniably true, to say it out loud is to question their patriotism. It is incorrect speech, a thought which may not be uttered out loud, may not be voiced for fear of calling down the Furies upon the head of the speaker. Why is it, one wonders, that in a nation where the media ceaselessly inform us the administration is suppressing speech (yet they seem to be screaming dissent at the top of their lungs without repercussions) no one is allowed to question certain dominant memes expressed in the press? Are only some ideas subject to critical review? And who, exactly, gets to sit in judgment? Who controls the megaphone? Certainly not government.

John Murtha, trying to score points on the President, invoked the supposed moral authority of Colin Powell:


Was former secretary of state Colin L. Powell defeatist when he warned: "If you break it, you own it"?

It's a good question, because no matter how you look at it, right now the job in Iraq isn't done and John Murtha doesn't want to finish it. Parts of Iraq are still visibly broken, and he and his cohort want to run away and leave them to pick up the pieces. Yet it would seem that by his own admission, that isn't what Colin Powell, his hero, would have done. It isn't the course for men of honor.

How long, after we withdraw to a "safe, over the horizon position", as men like John Murtha suggest, will it be until the final act in the Iraq=Vietnam drama plays out?

Until a feckless Congress, with the Democrats firmly in control as they were in 1975, votes to pull the rug out from underneath the Iraqis and withdraw even financial assistance? Once the first promise has been broken, the others are easy. They flow like water.

Ralph Peters is right. Osama bin Laden was right.

Once again, we have failed our fighting men and women. Iraq is becoming Vietnam, and it is going to be a bloodbath. I hope the media will be happy with what they have wrought. I hope they are pleased when the death tolls pouring from the new Iraq they fought so hard to achieve reach what they were under the UN sanctions that enabled Saddam to starve, rape, and brutalize his own people as the West watched impassively.

Perhaps they can tell the Mayor of Tal Afar why we are leaving. Perhaps they can explain it to the shade of Rafael Peralta. I cannot. Let Clarence Page do it - let him explain it to the families of all the men who have died. As I look around, I see a broken nation and I am ashamed and disgusted beyond belief at the cowardice and venality on display. This is not the nation I love, that I support, that I would gladly give my life for. I can only pray we remember what we once were before it is too late.

*******************************************************

Inspired, though he may not wish to disclaim all responsibilitity, by this post.

Posted by Cassandra at October 19, 2006 05:21 AM

Comments

That was a thoughtful, serious and dead on post. So let me be the first to ask: is saying "show your Tets" offensive?

Posted by: Hummer at October 19, 2006 09:41 AM

Sadly, I don't think anyone really wants to see my Tets anymore Hummer.

But thanks for asking. It's always nice to know a patriotic fighting vehicle is willing to prop up the
sagging...err.. egos of America's aging womyn.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 19, 2006 09:57 AM

No thanks necessary. I'm here to help all great Americans.

Posted by: Hummer at October 19, 2006 10:02 AM

I've said for awhile now that mistakes were made in liberating Iraq, but not the ones trumpeted daily in the MSM. No, the mistake that was made was over-estimating the strength and perseverance of the American people. Not all of the people, mind you, but enough of the shrillest, willfully handed the global megaphone by our liberal media, to make the difference between victory and ignominious retreat and defeat. They will scream and shout, protest and picket, doing untold damage to our efforts, and when their global displays of lack of will affect the outcome in Iraq to our detriment, they will step up and shout "WE TOLD YOU SO!"

The concept of self-fulfilling prophecy is foreign to them. In their own self-myopia, they will NEVER recognize or admit their own culpability in the eventual outcome. Lord help us when/if we have to defend ourselves against an even stronger enemy. We no longer have the backbone for it because of this cancerous, treasonous, malignant growth.

Posted by: Daveg at October 19, 2006 10:46 AM

- Casandra, the Left wing of the Dems, in concert with the lame-stream media, are trying to stampede Conservatives prior to the elections, because whether they want to admit it or not, it’s anything but in the bag for them and they know it. Any Right side bloggers that let that happen are whimps in my book.

- There certainly are apropos parallels to VietNam, but not the ones the SP’s would ever want to talk about. Min admited in his memoirs that after TET he was ready to throw in the towel and sue for peace, but he took heart watching the Marxist underground devide American’s, and that gave him the steam he needed to carry on. The Left continues on in its campaign to change our Republic to a soft-Marxist Socialism, but until they can win elections it’s all just a lot of smoke and noise.

Even more than that, the entire panalope of haurange and screech during the late 60's early 70's, is one giant windmill of fools fighting fools over non-existant issues. VietNam was just the Piniada for the Socialists and the Republicans to fight for the spirit of America. It's going on still to this day, and the only way the Left can win is if we cave in. I don't intend to do that, now or ever.

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 19, 2006 11:54 AM

We need to support the Tets.

Posted by: Cricket at October 19, 2006 12:19 PM

There’s only four “thruthiness’s” anyone need's to know about the whole VietNam saga.

1) - Starting with Eisenhower, the whole point of state department/adminsitration policy was the staunching “The spread of world wide Communism”. Thats the sum total of it. Period.

2) - After Kennedy’s assasination, and because the Russians had achieved a sort of nuclear "first strike" viability they might actually be foolish enough to try, the “MAD” initiative was added to the national policy, as an absolute, do or die goal. A lot of the "race to the moon, NASA developements, went into the MAD initiative. Basically in a way we went to the moon to insure our survival here on old mother earth.

3) We had to stay in Vietnam into the early 70’s until the nuclear sub-fleet could be deployed and MAD firmly established, stale mating Russia, and China, and stopping the advance of Communism. It’s a damn tragedy it took us that long because it cost a lot of American live’s, but we really had no choice.

4) It worked. after that Communism never again advanced a single inch anywhere in the world, and eventually Russia collapsed, and China had no options, outside of modernization

- Nixon never really understood any of that, spending most of his time mumbling over his “enemies” list, and fighting an empty fools game with the American Left, all of whom also had their heads up their rear ends, while our State Department kept it's head down and just went right ahead, carrying out the work of Kennedy and Eisenhower, while the insanity swirled around them. Forget Johnson, he was aa ego-driven small town Mayor in a National position, basically treading water, while the developments went on apace.

- Bottom line. All that energy bringing down Nixon, exerted by the Left, was a fools errand.

- So there you are. If you know those four fact’s, you know more than 95% of our population. Not pretty, but truth seldom is.

- Anyway, thats just a small part of what “the Left doesn’t know”, because their poly-sci profs, and SDS weatherman didn’t know it either. Imagine how much more effective their Marxist campaigns would have been if they only knew the truth.

- When you realize that the "VietNam era purpose" was completely different than most people, including the majority of our politicians thought, it's a lot easier to view the efforts of the Left, and what their real agenda is, and even easier to thwart it. the Doom and Gloom is over-hyped, and has a purepose also. We don't have to buy into it. It's up to us.

- You’re welcome.

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 19, 2006 12:41 PM

I don't think Ralph Peters is actually right, this time. His complaint is that the new COIN manual is what it is because the authors caved in to political correctness.

The main author on the USMC side was General "it's fun to kill 'em" Mattis.

I've read drafts of the COIN manual, and I think it looks good. Peters' complaint on this score seems unjust to me.

Posted by: Grim at October 19, 2006 01:12 PM

Okay, you get an "A" for the whole semester with this post. I've linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2006/10/re-medias-tet-offensive-sapping-our.html

Posted by: Consul-At-Arms at October 19, 2006 01:48 PM

That part, Grim, I am manifestly unqualified to comment on and I will leave up to you. Like you, I would be reluctant to second-guess Jim Mattis.

I only know that for the first time in five years I fear for my country. I have been relentlessly upbeat despite the naysaying and the gloom and doom in my own party, through the last election, through the debates when they kept saying Bush couldn't win, on election night when they were saying we'd lost to Kerry. I never once lost faith.

And now I just do not know what to think.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 19, 2006 02:02 PM

Casandra. As volitile as this election season is, with events happening almost daily, I don't think Cleo in her finest moment could devine the elction results. But taking a scenario where the Dems manage to eke out a thin margin in the house, I view it as "giving them just enough rope". Up til now the Dhemmi's have been able to hide their lack of alternative idea's, other than cut and run, behind the "we're not Bush" screed. after taking the house, they won't be able to do that anymore with the "we're not in charge" excuse, and after two years of watching the "investigations" fiasco's and attempts to raise every tax in cite, yet more efforts aimed at crippling us in the WOT, I gotta believe all of that will just cement the Republicans in '04.

- As Coulter said a few weeks ago, "If the Dems can't pull it off this time, they might as well pack it in and go home".

- The interesting thing really, is that in an "off" year election, when the out party has a slam dunk historically, it's still in doubt, even just a few weeks before election day. Even with the political wind at their backs, the Dems are in a fight. Not exaactly a mandate.

- Regardless of the outcome, Congressional elections are a "local" issue. Winning in a National campaign is a completely different kettle of fish. That's when all the damage of the far left will come home to roost.

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 19, 2006 02:31 PM

...ment to say "cement the reps chances in '08, just as it did in '04"

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 19, 2006 02:33 PM

Oh, I get it now. I was wondering what the big deal was. I thought Bush had only agreed that "a rack today" was like "the tit 30 years ago." Well duh!

Posted by: Unicorn at October 19, 2006 03:05 PM

Now, as then, the media is largely to blame. But more people are becoming aware of the reality, thanks to "Da 'Net", all the time. Courage!

Posted by: camojack at October 19, 2006 07:17 PM

We won the war. We lost the post-war. I am sorry for the secular and progressive people who still exist in Iraq, for they will be the real losers. The plurality of Iraqi voters went for parties that were willing to suck up to Iranian interests and look the other way when death squads infiltrated the police -- and those voters will get their choice.

The US is not a martial society. And, for the most part, martial societies do not do as well as more mercantile ones. Admittedly the martial societies often have more stirring songs. But (with a few geographic and ethnic exceptions), we are are more traders and builders than warriors. And, IMO, this is a good thing.

The "War on Terror" is really a war on radical Islamic expansionism. We will not win that broader war by military means, because war is the human condition that allows violent, extreme, and backward cultures to play on something like an even playing field. Peace is the condition that allows American strengths -- our vibrant economy, seductive culture, and love of innovation -- to flourish. Much as some here might not like it, American pop music is more dangerous to Islamic extremism than American firepower.

I will grant that the neocons had a commendable goal of bringing a reasonable democracy to an Arab land. But their attempt at that goal failed. IMO an oil-rich society is perhaps the worst place to try to plant democracy -- the ease of central control of resources makes it hard to foster the balancing act of successful politics. Witness Venezuela for another example of that.

At this point, Iraqi government is worse (for both us and them) than it was under Saddam. But I do not see how our continued presence is going to improve the situation.

Posted by: Fritz at October 19, 2006 08:52 PM

This was a winnable "war" (the war ended three years ago, we are now in the occupation stage). It is a more difficult task than it was three years ago, due to mismanagement by this administration.

This administration went into this war with blinders on. After defeating the opposint Army, the administration kept the blinders on because it had just tied one hand behind its back.

I do not believe that this administration can complete a successful operation. I have more confidence in Murtha than I do Bush (which is not saying much, given the little confidence I have in Murtha).

People claim that the Democrats have no plan. But, so what. Even if they had a plan, it would not matter, since it is Bush who has to make the decision to execute the plan. What scares me is that Bush had no plan for the post-war period and he still has no plan.

Posted by: Allan at October 19, 2006 11:19 PM

But Kerry does! How do you feel about Hillary?
She doesn't want to pull out of Iraq and is running as a moderate. Do you think she has the integrity to stay to that position if she wins the nomination? And if she wins the election?

Posted by: Cricket at October 20, 2006 02:01 AM

Its been a real sucky month.

Posted by: actus at October 20, 2006 07:15 AM

I hear that "no plan" stuff a lot, but I don't buy it. We had a plan, and that plan included a large number of troops coming in from Turkey to pincer Iraq's armies between the Northern force and the Southern force. Of course, it didn't work out that way once Turkey revoked permission, which is an event I place squarely on the shoulders of the disloyal Secretary of State, Colin Powell. I don't believe his obstructionism started or ended with the Plame fiasco. And I believe a large cause of the insurgency we see today was allowing those troops to slink away and disappear into the civilian populace.

Yes, I agree that Murtha would have better success in implementing his "plan" simply because there aren't all that many obstructions and uncertainties in the act of tucking your tail between your legs and running away. You more than likely won't like that characterization of Murtha's "plan," but I can't see it any differently than that no matter how much lipstick gets applied to that hog.

WRT to Bush having a hand tied behind his back, 'tis true, but he wasn't the one that tied it there. That was done for him by the lack of support from the MSM and our "dissent is Patriotic" crowd. "MORE TROOPS," they chanted, almost in synch with "WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS WHEN THEY FRAG THEIR OFFICERS." With domestic support like that, it's no wonder that plans based on a belief that the American public would stand behind our efforts didn't do very well.

Posted by: Daveg at October 20, 2006 08:14 AM

I absolutely agree that the war and even the occupation were winnable at the beginning. The occupation became unwinnable beginning with Rumsfeld's infamous response to massive looting in Baghdad -- that "freedom is messy". With that one remark, Rumsfeld put freedom on the side of destruction, chaos, and disorder. Wonderful.

Posted by: Fritz at October 20, 2006 09:14 AM

Dawg,

Yes, there was a plan. A plan to defeat Saddam's army. It worked very well.

The plan ended when the war was over. We had no plan for the occupation.

Bush tied his own hands. No-one else did anything. MSM was behind him 100% in Sep 2001 through at least March 2003. He could have and should have mobilized the nation, but refused to do so. There was no mention of support for fragging in March 2003. There was a case (in the 101st ABD), but there was almost universal scorn.

Posted by: Allan at October 20, 2006 10:58 AM

actus ... what happened little trooper... you failed your quarter terms already?....

- We're living in dangerous times people. You can suck on your latte's, read your paper, and pretend if you elect some cut and runners, it will all go away. Good luck.....

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at October 20, 2006 11:18 AM

Cass,
I guess I'm about where you are today.

The idea for confronting Salafist Islam was that "moderate" Muslims could be found and encouraged to form republican (small r) democracies, and therefore introducing liberal ideas to the Arabic-Muslim world, and reform it. The individual countries of the Middle East (and elsewhere) would choose to fight the 'asymetrical' war at home, rather than allow it to be exported everywhere, and be more attracted to the ideas we were introducing rather than Medieval Salafist Islam (Sunni or Shia variety, take your pick).

Afghanistan was the first test, but the results were marginal, so we needed a larger stage, and Saddam Hussein provided the justification for it in Iraq.
The human capital exists in Iraq to do just that, and probably still exists today, but the dwindling of patience in the US and the failure of Iraqis themselves to work out their differences, etc., could be "dooming" that prospect.

The second method of confronting Salafist Islam was "containment" (prophyllaxis of militant Islam). This was recently discussed extensively on a comment thread at "Winds of Change" . This will be "harder" but "easier". (?) Not a rootin', tootin' shottin' war, but "clever and smart" ways of making the 'fight' more effective. We, at home, will have to make real choices as a country:
1)How many Arabs/Muslims will be allowed to immigrate into Europe or North America, Canada and the US?) (zero?)
2)How much trade can we really have?

3) How much can we tolerate illiberal Islam in out midst, using the "liberal" social and legal mechanisms in this country to bring about their desired "end state"?
I personally think that "prophyllaxis" of Islam will fail, because it is too "hard" to sustain over time, even though the threat is quite real.

Finally, there are the third and fourth solutions, which you can probably guess.
3. Surrender (dhimmitude), within a couple of generations.
4. The unthinkable, which I won't explicate on. Draw your own mental pictures.

Which is why, I still have "hope" for Iraq and what we are doing their, because even a fool's hope for a better outcome is better that the alternatives.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 20, 2006 11:57 AM

To "Daveg at October 20, 2006 08:14 AM" --

"...I believe a large cause of the insurgency we see today was allowing those troops to slink away and disappear into the civilian populace..." was because L. Paul Bremer decided on May 23, 2003, to dissolve the Iraqi Army. Powell had nothing to do with it.

Essentially laying off hundreds of thousands of soldiers, trained and well armed, now really pissed off for losing their livelihood, fueled the insurgency.

Posted by: jpr at October 20, 2006 03:19 PM

I have prans. Rots of prans. But no one ristens.

I get so ronery.

Posted by: Kim J. at October 20, 2006 06:40 PM

Kim J....is that a chick name?

Posted by: Pile On® at October 20, 2006 09:33 PM

As in Kim Jong-Il?

Posted by: I'm So Ronery at October 20, 2006 09:37 PM

Cass, not to be intrusive, but, could you aid in blogswarming this story:
http://hotair.com/archives/2006/10/20/the-kennedy-kgb-letter/

not necessarily that one, but at least some story covering that information. Its 'old' information, but it serves as proof of (at least I think) unaccounted-for treason on the part of Kennedy, who should never have been a senator for so many years.

Posted by: RiverCocytus at October 21, 2006 09:06 AM

"what happened little trooper... "

icasualties.org shitty month.

Posted by: actus at October 21, 2006 02:11 PM

Sorry about actus. He follows me around.

Posted by: RiverCocytus at October 21, 2006 02:40 PM

The debate over parallels between Vietnam and Iraq is interesting but may not be appropriate.

To begin, the scale of the two military efforts weakens any comparison. Troop numbers, casualties, etc. all make Iraq pale when compared to Vietnam. (I realize that Iraq isn't over yet but America is a long way from 55,000 deaths.)

Secondly, America recovered from Vietname, recovered magnificently. The ability to rebound and return is as American as apple pie and has been demonstrated so many times that to expect anything else is ludicrous.

Thirdly, history has shown that there was no need for America's involvement in Vietnam. The so-called domino theory, the defending the free world, the right of SVN to live its own life, etc., etc. were all smoke and mirrors. America's experience in Vietnam was marvellously examined in Barbara Tuchman's book and, especially given our current involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is stunningly prescient.

The casuality toll continues to climb. Several commentators have mentioned that Bush did win the war but, while combat continues, is losing the occupation. The latter does follow after the former unless there is a plan to get out. There does not appear to be a viable plan to win the occupation. Once again, the West has confused itself in believing that its own tenets and traditions can be applied elsewhere. Iraq, an artificial creation of England, France and the US after WWI, will need the centuries we've taken to acquite the traditions and habits of democracy. Afghanistan has never submitted to an overseas power.

Democracy cannot be imposed by external entities. It can only grow, citizen by citizen, from within the culture's population. Even then, it doesn't always work.

Finally, I do weep for the dead and wounded. Whether they're Canadian, American, British, Australian, Spanish, Polish, Roumanian or other members of the coalitions in Afghanistan or Iraq, their suffering should not go unhonoured. However, to perpetuate their sacrifices needlessly doesn't redeem us. If we, the western nations, can't win in these still feudal states, and I suspect we can't, why remain? These two combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq do not represent some Sunday afternoon football game. We do our dead and wounded no service by remaining unless we have a reasonable set of objectives and a realistic chance of success.

I have no big hoo-hoo for, or against, George Bush. I do, though, for the members of our armed forces.

Regards,
George

Posted by: George at October 21, 2006 07:35 PM

While I agree with part of what you have said about Iraq, I disagree about a couple of things:
First of all, Iraq has had a more or less 'stable' internal government. Leaving aside the references to Saddam's systematically killing off the Kurds and ruthlessness to enforce his dictatorship by oppressing the rest of the country in the time honored manner of his
idol Papa Joe, it did have some western ideals and influences.

So, compared to Afghanistan which was dragged out of the 14th century after WWII, Iraq was farther on the road to becoming a democracy within Islam. Kuwait has managed it, as have the UAE, Qatar and a couple of other places.
Yes, the same sort of treatment about women continues, but change for them for the better is coming. Maybe not totally through the US forces
but there are outspoken Muslim women.

This is my opinion and for those who have lived in the ME and read this blog, they will step forward and correct anything I have said.

Posted by: Cricket at October 21, 2006 08:02 PM

Just curious about the lack of discussion about what happened in Vietnam after the North "liberated" it, slaughter of 1 million. A terrific argument for cut and run.

I believe we need to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government to take control and either support them in applying more bloody-minded tactics or do it ourselves. The latter is not a pleasant prospect but needed to defeat the terrorist jihadi in Iraq.

Posted by: RWing Nut at October 22, 2006 12:49 PM

RWing Nut
(talk about freudian typing errors, I typed your name as 'Nit' instead of 'Nut.')

I forgot about that and you raise a most compelling argument to not leave Iraq to the jihadis.

But if we are able to stay and win their hearts and minds to the reality of the deomocracy that they have wanted, so much the better.

Posted by: Cricket at October 22, 2006 01:36 PM

>How do you feel about Hillary?
She doesn't want to pull out of Iraq and is running as a moderate. Do you think she has the integrity to stay to that position if she wins the nomination? And if she wins the election?

No. Hillary! will say or do whatever her internal polling tells her to say or do. Remember Bubba's 'middle class tax cut'? yeah- it got shoved aside for a federal gas tax increase.

ON THE WAR- Iraq as we see it in 2006 is what we get when we try to fight a war in half-measures and with pulled punches. You get an unsatisfactory outcome- maybe even no settled outcome at all.

FINALLY- Arabs and muslims are never ever going to embrace representative, republican government. They will never embrace liberal Western values. They are as unlike us (U.S.) as we will ever find. They are not worthy of our sacrifice in blood and treasure.

Planting the flag of liberal democracy in the Middle East, by way of Iraq, was a fine idea. It did not work. The best we can hope for is containment of the islamic menace.

Posted by: barry at October 22, 2006 01:53 PM

"[Melvin Laird] Without U.S. funding, South Vietnam was quickly overrun. We saved a mere $297 million a year and in the process doomed South Vietnam, which had been ably fighting the war without our troops since 1973."

In that sense, why say we can't continue funding the Iraq gov't, itself, after a U.S. troop withdrawal, if, as Laird explains funding, itself, was the real failure of U.S. commitment in Vietnam that lead to the fall of South Vietnam? A lot of the discontent over the current state of the Iraq War should be properly attributed to how the war was sold to the American public during it's run-up. Rumsfeld (paraphrasing): "who knows?  the Iraqi War could last 6 days....6 weeks....I doubt 6 months."  And someone else in the administration: "The Iraqi oil will pay for the cost of the war by itself." These claims haven't panned out by a wide margin. Even generals in the thick of things have come to terms and have assessed that the Iraqi War cannot be won militarily at this stage.

BTW, the insurgency and the sectarian violence are two different creatures. Sunni militiamen captured by Shia, or visa versa, have been whisked away from their custody by U.S. interrogators and released in trade for providing the U.S. wiht an insurgent's address. How the interrogators are able to determine whether their militia prisoner is really outing an insurgent or falsely marking an opposing religious militiaman, I don't have a clue, but the point is that sectarian fighters and insurgents are separate entities. To compound the situation the people in Baghdad fear that if the U.S. intervenes in the sectarian violence, that would only drive opposing militias underground. Also, peace-maker measures by the U.S. may even drive militias to ally with insurgents to jointly attack the U.S. liberators.

Posted by: RONW at October 22, 2006 04:59 PM

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