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Iraq and Vietnam

Professor Owens offers a timely history refresher on Vietnam in the days after Tet.

Americans and South Vietnamese scored major military successes against the North Vietnamese from 1968 to 1971, helping to stabilize the political situation in South Vietnam. This, combined with economic improvements, was solidifying the attachment of the rural population to the South Vietnamese government.
Their approach was no mere holding action, but a positive strategy for ensuring the survival of South Vietnam. They knew that U.S. forces would be withdrawn eventually, so they employed diminishing resources in manpower, materiel, money and time to maximize the ability of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves before the American withdrawal was complete.
Abrams' approach was vindicated during the 1972 Easter Offensive -- the biggest offensive push of the war, greater than either the 1968 Tet offensive or the final assault of 1975.

As the Northern forces pushed south, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) held on -- fighting well (with the inevitable failures on the part of some units) with massive American air and naval support. Then, having blunted the communist thrust, they recaptured territory that had been lost to Hanoi.

So effective was the combination of the ARVN performance during the Easter Offensive and following operations (Colby's Phoenix Program and LINEBACKER II -- the so-called Christmas bombing of 1972) that the British counterinsurgency expert, Sir Robert Thompson, concluded that U.S.-ARVN forces "had won the war. It was over."

But while the war was being won on the ground, it was being lost at the peace table and in Congress.

First, the same sort of domestic defeatism that is endangering our effort in Iraq today impelled President Richard Nixon to rush to extricate the country from Vietnam, forcing South Vietnam to accept a cease-fire that permitted the People's Army of Vietnam (the North Vietnamese) forces to remain in South Vietnam.

Second, the Watergate scandal changed the makeup of Congress -- which, in an act that still shames the United States to this day, then cut off military and economic assistance to South Vietnam.

Finally, President Nixon resigned over Watergate -- and his successor, further constrained by Congress, defaulted on promises to respond with force to North Vietnamese violations of the peace terms.

In short, Iraq is no Vietnam, and it will not become Vietnam unless and until Bush's enemies succeed in weakening him politically to the point where we will be forced to cut and run, and abandon Iraq to terror and chaos. Sadly, there are quite a few legislators on the Hill who are working overtime to make sure that's exactly what happens.


This is claptrap, and Barry knows it.

AS IF the war in Vietnam was against the "Army of North VietNam".

Do the words "insurgency", "guerrila war", "daily body count", "quagmire" and "Vietnamization" sound familiar?

Yes? Wel, if they sound familiar, and are not applied to Iraq, it PROVES Republicans and COnservatives truly learned NOTHING in VietNam about the true cost of invasion and occupation, pacifying warring native populations, and throwing money and men's lives down a shit-hole.

Yes, it was the "Anti-War Commies" that lost the war in VietNam. Right. Asshats.

I agree with Barry. Iraq is another Vietnam.

Hopefully all of American will soon draw the same conclusion. Some responsible congressmen warned of this before the invasion began and they were viciously attacked by the Bush Administration.

It's all Republican. Bush has been denied nothing. If Iraq is Vietnam, like Barry says it is, then Bush created another Vietnam.

Of course, Barry seems to think that Vietnam was a good idea, if only we had "seen it through" ... read some history, that's what LBJ thought at the time, and later regretted.

Interesting posting. You overall analysis is correct except for 2 things:

1. The Iraq war was even more unjustified and wrong than the Vietnam war was. The reason? In 2001 we were attacked by terrorists, but instead of going after them, in 2003 we attacked a completely irrelevant country (Iraq) waisting resources and doing things that indirectly strengthened our enemies (islamic fundamentalists and terrorists). In a way the Iraq war is exactly the mistake that Bin Laden and the terrorists were hoping we would do. Bush and the neocons fell in that trap.

2. Nixon was a much more competent leader than Bush is. Importantly, Nixon had not started the war, like Bush did. Of course, you can argue that Bush did not start the war either, as it is very questionnable if he makes any decisions himself.

Hopefully the democrats will succeed in weakening Bush politically to the point that he will resign like Nixon did.

The total number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq in the last two and a half years has not yet equaled the number of American civilians killed in two and a half hours on September 11, 2001.

It's hard not to notice that not one terrorist attack on the U.S. has come close to succeeding since the anthrax attacks in late 2001. Did the terrorists just forget we're here? Are they cutting us some slack? Or are they pinned down in the scorching sands of western Iraq?

Your argument (used also by Bush et al), is extremely naive. If the terrorists could attack us here again they would, no matter what they do in Iraq. Did you forget the attacks in Spain and England recently? Were the terrorists on vacation from the Iraq war when they did them? Give me a break. This argument makes absolutely no sense.

"Your argument (used also by Bush et al), is extremely naive. If the terrorists could attack us here again they would, no matter what they do in Iraq." (Blue Wind)

You're right about ONE thing, "IF the terrorists COULD attack us here again they WOULD."

Thanks to the Patriot Act, here at home and Iraq's becoming a magnet for the global Islamo-cultist jihad, putting the bulk of the Islamo-cultist jihadists in one place for easy disposal, the terrorists have been unable to attack the U.S. again, which I believe was WithoutFeather's point.

Islamo-cultism is a very dangerous ideology.

Sure that much is obvious in their signature expression - mass terrorism, but even if that ideology merely wished to be left alone and sued for peace on those terms, WE COULD NOT PEACEFULLY COEXIST.


Because our Corporatist economy needs ever more consumers, and there are over 1 Billion Muslims worldwide, and because Islamo-cultism is a barrier that makes it impossible for us to export our hedonistic, materialism to that region and to all those potential customers and all that cheap labor, we are at a serious impasse.

In short, even under the best of conditions Islamo-cultism and the Corporatist West could not peacefully coexist because the West would be forced to fight for its own economic survival, in the face of Islamo-cultism's demand to be "left alone," and they would be faced with fighting for their own spiritual survival against the West's demand/need to export Western materialism/hedonism, while importing their cheap labor.

Just as Socialism and Market Corporatism (today's Western economy of choice) could not peacefully coexist, Islamo-cultism and the West were destined to clash as well.

Just as it was absolutely necessary for the West to crush and bury Socialism and in turn denigrate (even distort) its meaning (in a delicious irony, Libya's Qadafi recently described his own favored economy "Thatcherism/Reaganism" or Supply Side economics, as "socialism," showing that few people even know what that once vaunted ideology even means), it is now absolutely necessary for the West to crush, bury and distort whatever meaning Islamo-cultism (fundamentalist Islam) has for the Muslim world and replace it with something far more amenable to Western mores and traditions.

Just as with Socialism - "One of us had to go, better them than us,"...same thing with the West Vs Islamo-cultism - One of us has to go and better them than us.

The terrorists are walking across the Rio Grande as we speak. The Mexican border has been left wide open by Bush so that cheap labor can pour in unimpeded to take away American jobs. But hey, anything that puts another dime into a rich man's pocket is "good for America!"

With all due respect, I find Professor Owens' commentary to be very simplistic. We were in Vietnam, after all, for more than a decade. While the troop levels were next to nothing during the Eisenhower administration and grew only slightly during the Kennedy administration, you still had a period of roughly 8 years (1965-1972) where our troop levels were significantly higher than what they are today in Iraq.

The American public was very patient during the war, despite the rationale for our being there shifting from our supporting the French following WWII to our fighting communism in the 1960s. The question always in Vietnam was not our ability to engage the enemy in military battles as it is true that every major battle was won by the Americans. The problem always was our attempt at nation building. We never succeeded, in my view, at creating a South Vietnamese government that South Vietnamese were willing to fight and die for (on principle, not just for the money.) Our failures began with the assasination/coup of Diem (sp?) during the Kennedy administration on to our propping up of the Thieu government in the 1970s. While many have said that the Thieu government was superior to the Communists in the north, the bottom line is that South Vietnam never came together as a country, divided as it was by the minority Catholics (who maintained political control) and the Buddhists.

It is true that our army defeated the Vietnamese Army convincingly both in 1968 and 1972, but in the end the agreement made in late 1972 and signed in 1973 allowed the Viet Cong to stay in large portions of the South, including in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon. Check out the Vietnam Historical Atlas, which I have, and you will see why Thieu reportedly cried when Kissenger showed him what that peace agreement allowed.

This agreement, mind you, was made long before Watergate rose to the Public Surface. Yes, the burglars were arraigned in January 1973, but Nixon had won the 1972 election in a landslide. He didn't have to sign that agreement, but the reality was that no matter how much our army won against their army we were losing in key sections of the country the battle against the Viet Cong guerrillas. We would defeat them there, only to have them pop up elsewhere.

To those who say we should've stayed longer, I ask how long? Because the truth in Vietnam was that we were winning every battle but couldn't win the war. Why? Well, it is hard to defeat an enemy by attrition when they are willing to take on unlimited casualties. So instead of thinking militarily, we had to help build a government for which South Vietnamese would fight and in this we failed because what was so notable in the final assault of 1975 was how too many of the South Vietnamese just gave up. Instead of fighting to the death, too many were praying for the Americans to return. South Vietnam in 1975 still had a client state mentality.

So the parallel in Vietnam is whether we can help build a country that can stand on its own. Because our military, while great at fighting battles, can not be expected to negotiate between the various factions in Iraq especially considering that most soldiers do not speak the language. In the end, the question is whether a government emerges that not only is strong but has strong support. While I think that training soldiers is important, we could spend years there training soldiers if all those soldiers are interested in is the paycheck. There has to be soldiers willing to fight and die for the country we helped to build. They also have to believe that they are fighting for Iraq, not for the United States, a belief that is not held currently by many of the soldiers there.

Now we have, in my view, done a far better job in Iraq than in Vietnam in creating a state that has true support among the majority Shia and the Kurds in the north. My guess is that when we end up leaving that there could very well be a civil war where the Shia and the Kurds crack down on the Sunnis in the middle. (The result of this will be greater influence for Iran, but that is happening already.) In any case, I believe that we will eventually have to leave (with perhaps some bases still there) and this war will happen soon after we do. (I don't believe that Kurd soldiers fighting for the Kurds will need any of our training.) The only other option is to create a client state, where we get to be the lucky ones who get to deal with the Sunnis. However, if we create a client state, we will only succeed by staying there forever. I don't think that most Americans will stand for that and I am with most Americans there.

The total number of US military personnel killed has nothing, absolutely NOTHING to do with the number of US civilians killed on September 11.

It is nothing but an insidious, deliberate, premeditated propaganda talking point.

But let's play along for our audience:

Why don't we count the number of US AND IRAQI servicemen, police, emergency workers, contractors, and civilians killed in the last 2 1/2 years of war in Iraq?

Oh, yeah. Because no one knows for sure how many they might be, but best guess is some number between 30,000 and 200,000.

You think we got even yet, WF? Can we stop now?

I was at the Pentagon when the sorry-terrorists made cowardly attacks. They don't give a damn about the rules of law, repect for non-combatants, and fair plays. We don't have any shopping malls being blown up by these maniacs. So what have you done lately to contribute to going after these bad boys? Say a little prayer for the troops out there. Thanks one when you see one this week. Watch FOX news once in a while. Will you? Cheers, KKY

"You think we got even yet, WF? Can we stop now?" (Blue88)

Just as WMDs weren't the reaosn for the invasion of Iraq (its violation of 1441 was), the goal of this war isn't "payback" or "revenge for 9/11."

There is NO direct link between Iraq and 9/11, and no that "shouldn't give anyone pause for thought," because Saddam's Iraq was, at least according to the U.S. State Dept, one of the leading, if not THE leading "State Sponsors of international terrorism."

This war is part of a global assault on those rogue nations that have sponsored, funded, harbored and otherwise assisted international terrorists. Attacking the nations that have sponsored, harbored, assisted, supported, etc international terrorism is as vital as going after the terrorists and their money supplies, etc.

Moreover, the growing threat that Islamo-cultism/Islamo-fascism poses is a threat to America's economic survival as it has unfortunately sprung up in a region very sensitive to American interest. The Mid-East and its oil reserves are vital to our oil-based economy right now.

Should we suddenly move to shale oil and oil sands reserves and to drilling beneath the ocean floors (all of which have promise and all of which have seen rapid technological advances in lately) then the Mid-East would soon be of little or no import to us at all. In fact, we could, and I believe it would certainly be in our best interests, at that point to basicly "pull the plug" on the Mid-East's OPEC based economy, unleashing a devastating "economic bomb" in that region...now that would be "payback," BUT, the reason for advocating it wouldn't be revenge, but "cutting off the potential funding to international terrorism."

Republicans Calling a Decorated War Hero a Coward Devalue the Heroism of our Soldiers Currently Serving in Iraq

Even in the Orwellian world of American politics the events of recent weeks have been surreal. But despite all the arguing going on among our political leaders one thing has been constant, that is the overwhelming support for our troops in the field. Regardless of ones political affiliation or view on the conduct of the operation in Iraq, it is clear that all Americans support the troops, and all grieve equally when they are injured or die.

It is clear to anybody who is paying the least bit of attention that the war in Iraq is not going well. Thus far 2094 American soldiers have died and more than 15,000 have been left permanently disabled. The war has thus far cost the average American family over $3000 and costs each family an additional $100 per week. The sole measure of success on the part of the wars supporters is that if we left now the country of Iraq would implode. Americans have rightly come to question whether this is an appropriate measure of success for a war that has cost us all so dearly.

But as the Bush Administration grows increasingly desperate they have come to adopt a strategy of questioning the patriotism of those with whom they disagree. It should be noted that 63% of Americans believe that the war is not going well, and that 57% of Americans believe that the Bush Administration misused pre-war intelligence to justify their preconceived plans of going to war. But Bush and Cheney are undeterred, grimly describing those who don’t agree with their policies as “deeply irresponsible, reprehensible and dishonest.”

Recently the Bush war marketing campaign has taken a further turn, suggesting that those who question the Administration conduct of the war undermine our soldiers in the field, that those who disagree with Bush don’t support the soldiers. Only19% of Americans support Cheney, 34% support Bush and only 40% of Americans still believe that Bush is honest. Those numbers seem to be sinking by the day as Americans are increasingly disgusted and appalled by an Administration and a Republican Congress that judges whether citizens support their own soldiers on the basis of who agrees or disagrees with the Administration war policy.

There is no doubt that we ask a great deal of our soldiers in the field, this has been the case throughout the history of our country. We have seen so many times that ordinary men are asked to perform extraordinary duties; those that go above and beyond are considered heroes and recognized by their country for their valor. Just over a week ago our country paused to reflect and remember, and to honor those who served our country in war. Veterans proudly displayed their medals, tokens of appreciation from a grateful country for their acts of bravery. Today in Iraq we have men and women performing those same duties on our behalf; some will be similarly honored.

But what message does it send to our soldiers in the field in Iraq, soldiers whom we are asking to perform extraordinary acts of bravery on our behalf, when their Commander in Chief questions the bravery and patriotism of a soldier who earned 2 purple hearts? When the Vice President (himself a recipient of 5 deferments) suggests that a much-decorated veteran who happens to disagree with him “lacks backbone?” When a Republican member of Congress suggests that that same decorated war veteran is a coward? Does it devalue the service of our soldiers in the field when they see that the Administration can so easily dismiss a war hero as a coward simply because he disagrees with them? Why should they be as committed to duty, honor and bravery as John Murtha was when they see that the Administration would piss on Murtha and his medals for their political purposes? Would the Administration do the same to them?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, just when you thought you had seen the worst of American politics, we’re treated to the spectacle of cowards like Cheney calling heroes like Murtha a coward. Orwell lives, but the last shred of decency on the part of the Bush Administration has long since passed. The Bushtanic is sinking, but as it was when Nixon went down the mood is not celebratory, it’s far more like mourning; mourning for our country, for all of us…for we brought it upon ourselves when we elected the incompetent bastard.

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