Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bush Compares Iraq to Vietnam

It seems the administration is backed into a corner, so they are rolling the dice and hoping not to blunder by invoking Vietnam in the Iraq war debate. Problem is they don't seem to realize that for this subject the dice only roll ones. This story is all over the blogosphere, so I'll just focus on CNN's article: Bush invokes 'tragedy of Vietnam' against Iraq pullout.

First off, it take a really arrogant person who avoided service in Vietnam to invoke the lessons Vietnam as a reason not to leave Iraq. This dipshit of a president needs to get a clue and shut up and resign, along with five deferment Cheney. They have no place leading our country especially in a war.

As for support for what Mr. Bush is saying, the right will since they don't have a true sense of the history of Vietnam and only see red when discussing the topic. Make no mistake, this is a play to the base, not to intelligent thinking Americans who make up the majority which oppose a continuation of our presence in Iraq.

Now, to the CNN article where we have this from Bush: unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields'...
Of course he forgets the random carpet bombings of the country by our air force which caused the death and suffering of innocent civilians in Vietnam. And what about the strategy of going into a town, wiping out the enemy there and leaving, only to have to return again and again because we kept giving up ground again and again because we did not have the manpower to hold that ground? Same thing is happening in Iraq.

There is also the long history of Vietnam's struggle for independence from the French. For over fifty years they fought a guerrilla war against the French, then the Japanese and then the French again. The Vietnamese, led by Ho Chi Minh, had actually defeated the Japanese but still the Western powers, including the US, refused to give them their freedom and instead rearmed the Japanese soldiers there to control the Vietnamese. Also remember the group Ho Chi Minh led was not strictly communist until the 1960's. It was in fact a coalition of nationalist groups who worked together for the freedom of Vietnam. The communists only came to dominate after it became clear that the West had no intention of allowing the Vietnamese to choose their own destiny: an independent Vietnam established by the Vietnamese people and not by the interests of foreign countries.

In 1954 the Vietnamese crushed the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. They controlled more than two thirds of the country and thought this was the moment that they had been waiting for, a united and independent Vietnam. The Western powers, in their arrogance, did not allow this and were more focussed on fighting communism and did not see or ignored the nationalist sentiment of the Vietnamese. Instead they thought they could split Vietnam and make it into another Korea. The problem in this was that South Vietnam was a creation by foreign powers whereas South Korea was only propped up by the Western powers and was, compared to South Vietnam, a country created and with the support of the people. To keep South Vietnam independent from the North, the Western powers poured billions of dollars into their economy in order to prop them up and make them more Western and thus identify with the West, and not with their brothers and sisters in the North.

American policy in Vietnam was doomed to failure because the government of South Vietnam was a Western puppet without the support of the people. Also, our military could not compete with a people who had been fighting for half a century for independence and have a history going back two millennia of fighting for independence from other nations.

We have lost Iraq as Vietnam because we do not understand the people. We have lost in Iraq as Vietnam because in our arrogance we believe we know what is best for these people. We have lost in Iraq as Vietnam because our objective is ethereal with no concrete targets to define victory.

We have not repeated these mistakes. Vietnam was a liberal war, and we learned. We warned against going into Iraq because as Vietnam it was not in our interest nor was it the source of the attacks on our soil.

This administration and the Republican party have repeated these mistakes because they have refused to acknowledge the mistakes and that we were wrong. These arrogant jackasses seem to believe that our country has the omnipotence usually reserved for God and therefore we can do no wrong. Until these dunces see what the mistakes were and understand them rather than defending America at all costs and only being able to proclaim 'victory or death' for every conflict we become involved in, our nation will continue to decline and we will continue to lose.

Now, for those who would be interested in learning about Vietnam rather than just assume they are all a bunch of pinko commies, there are two books you may be interested in:

The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family, by Duong Van Mai Elliott

The Sorrow of War, by Bao Ninh

Update 2:50 pm:

Josh at TPM makes a great point:

More concretely though, didn't the killing fields happen in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge rather than Vietnam? So doesn't that complicate the analogy a bit? And didn't that genocide actually come to an end when the Communist Vietnamese invaded in 1979 and overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime? The Vietnamese Communists may have been no great shakes. But can we get through one of these boneheaded historical analogies while keeping at least some of the facts intact?
In addition to that I would like to point out that in the conflict between Vietnam and Cambodia, we backed the Khmer Rouge. It would seem it is more important to stick it to a group of people that defeated us in a war than to support them in overthrowing a regime committing a genocide against its own people. BTW, by this point Vietnam was alone against Cambodia since China also supported the Khmer Rouge.
As Josh says, the communists in Vietnam weren't great, but their interests, beyond purging capitalist elements from their society, were on a whole more humanitarian the US government which would back genocide if it served their interests.

Also, if you haven't seen it, get your hands on The Quiet American. Very good commentary on our involvement in Vietnam early on.

1 comment:

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