November 27th, 2006

Vietnamization; Iraqization: (Part II)

[Part I here]

Whatever your opinion of President Nixon’s politics and policies, I think most of us can agree he was a strange and duplicitous man. I was not a fan, to say the least.

I watched many of his televised speeches at the time. They were not memorable, except for a few catch-phrases–mostly ridiculed by college and grad students such as myself–for example, “the silent majority.”

But in my quest to learn more about the Vietnamization phase of the Vietnam War, the part Nixon presided (literally) over, I read this speech of Nixon’s from November of 1969, in which he introduced and elucidated the concept of Vietnamization (as well as mentioning that famous “silent majority”). And it struck me that—well, see for yourselves:

…let me begin by describing the situation I found when I was inaugurated on January 20.
-The war had been going on for 4 years.
-31,000 Americans had been killed in action.
-The training program for the South Vietnamese was behind schedule.
-540,000 Americans were in Vietnam with no plans to reduce the number.
-No progress had been made at the negotiations in Paris and the United States had not put forth a comprehensive peace proposal.
-The war was causing deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.

In view of these circumstances there were some who urged that I end the war at once by ordering the immediate withdrawal of all American forces.

From a political standpoint this would have been a popular and easy course to follow. After all, we became involved in the war while my predecessor was in office. I could blame the defeat which would be the result of my action on him and come out as the peacemaker. Some put it to me quite bluntly: This was the only way to avoid allowing Johnson’s war to become Nixon’s war.

But I had a greater obligation than to think only of the years of my administration and of the next election. I had to think of the effect of my decision on the next generation and on the future of peace and freedom in America and in the world.

Well, it’s always risky quoting Nixon, a deeply flawed President. He was paranoid about his enemies, and his paranoia was part of what did him in, via his illegal actions in Watergate. He initiated the notorious “secret bombing” of Cambodia. He was a man profoundly uncomfortable in his own skin, as well. And, in the phrase he used in this speech, Johnson’s war did indeed become Nixon’s war.

But whatever I might think of Nixon, I have to say that his rhetoric in this speech seems unimpeachable (to coin a phrase). Because, in fact, the abandonment of Vietnam, which finally occurred post-Watergate, in 1975, led to a worldwide sense that America had lost the will to fight. We are still feeling its effects now in terms of international perception; the jihadists certainly have taken note, as they will if we withdraw too quickly and too precipitously from Iraq. The Democratic Congress would do well to ponder Nixon’s words and his warnings:

…many others, I among them, have been strongly critical of the way the war has been conducted.

But the question facing us today is: Now that we are in the war, what is the best way to end it?

In January I could only conclude that the precipitate withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam would be a disaster not only for South Vietnam but for the United States and for the cause of peace.

For the South Vietnamese, our precipitate withdrawal would inevitably allow the Communists to repeat the massacres which followed their takeover in the North 15 years before…

For the United States, this first defeat in our Nation’s history would result in a collapse of confidence in American leadership, not only in Asia but through-out the world.

And try this on for size:

-A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends.
-Our defeat and humiliation in South Vietnam without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest.
-This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere.
Ultimately, this would cost more lives.
It would not bring peace; it would bring more war.

Nixon went on to outline the principle that Vietnamese forces should be fighting for Vietnamese freedom. He outlined the goal of withdrawing American troops while training the South Vietnamese to take over, but he said:

I have not and do not intend to announce the timetable for our program. And there are obvious reasons for this decision which I am sure you will understand.

And then there’s the following; if more prescient words were ever spoken about Vietnam, I’m not aware of them [emphasis mine]:

In speaking of the consequences of a precipitate withdrawal, I mentioned that our allies would lose confidence in America.

Far more dangerous, we would lose confidence in ourselves. Oh, the immediate reaction would be a sense of relief that our men were coming home. But as we saw the consequences of what we had done, inevitable remorse and divisive recrimination would scar our spirit as a people…Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

Vietnamization was dismissed by many as a sham, and of course in the end our financial abandonment of the ARVN and the South Vietnamese meant we’ll never know what would have happened if we had kept up the economic support at a decent level. This article posits a believable case that, by the time we pulled the plug on the South, a turning point had been reached that would have allowed them to repel the North if they had been given the financial resources to do so. We will never know for sure, of course.

At any rate, we do know that Nixon’s Vietnamization policy did “work” in one respect: he withdrew US fighting forces from Vietnam. It occurred over a period of four years; here’s a chart that shows the pace of reduction of US combat forces, which were all gone by 1973:

The goal of withdrawal was accomplished. But Nixon’s greater fears–the loss of faith in the US, both abroad and at home–were realized. We stand on the brink of major decisions in Iraq which could cause an intensification of this realization, with far graver possible consequences.

49 Responses to “Vietnamization; Iraqization: (Part II)”

  1. Sissy Willis Says:

    A wonderful, important post. As GW said regarding the only relevant Vietnam analogy, “We’ll succeed unless we quit.”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    “Because, in fact, the abandonment of Vietnam, which finally occurred post-Watergate, in 1975, led to a worldwide sense that America had lost the will to fight.”

    I don’t think that’s true at all – and I’d be interested to hear what evidence you’d offer for that claim.

    “We are still feeling its effects now in terms of international perception; the jihadists certainly have taken note, as they will if we withdraw too quickly and too precipitously from Iraq. The Democratic Congress would do well to ponder Nixon’s words and his warnings:”

    Again I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that, either. Certainly the withdrawal from Vietnam might have bruised a few American egos(though I can’t imagine why), but it didn’t harm future relations between the U.S and Vietnam, as we’ve seen just this week.

    So using the Vietnam anaolgy in regards to withdrawing from Iraq is tenuous at best – certainly next to no evidence to draw upon. Just more fear-mongering.

    There is however, quite alot of historical precendent for countries who militarily occupy other nations for long periods of time against the will of that particular country and the international community.

    Certainly didn’t help the Soviets in Afghanistan. Certainly didn’t help the British in a few countries. Thinks aren’t looking so hot for Israel at the moment – without a real change in direction, the future looks decidely bleak for the Jewish state.

    Have to watch that revisionist history, Neo…

  3. Don Says:

    I don’t think that’s true at all – and I’d be interested to hear what evidence you’d offer for that claim.

    It’s true, and continues to this day, as this quote shows:

    I cannot forget the sight of the American forces leaving Vietnam in helicopters, which carried their officers and soldiers. Some Vietnamese, who had fought alongside the Americans, tried to climb into these helicopters, but the [Americans] threw them to the ground, abandoned them, and left. This is the sight I anticipate in our region, but I am not saying it will happen in months. It will take years. The Americans will gather their belongings and leave this region – the entire region. — Hassan Nasrallah

  4. Anonymous Says:

    “Time to think of somethimg else.”

    You’ve repeated this mantra endlessly. What’s your “something else”?

    Vietnam “failed” because we pulled out too soon. The same will happen in Iraq, not because it’s not possible, but because the “freedom-loving” West has lost its will to prevail.

  5. Don Says:

    Well, it’s always risky quoting Nixon, a deeply flawed President. He was paranoid about his enemies, and his paranoia was part of what did him in, via his illegal actions in Watergate.

    As a promising young Republican during WW2, Nixon was not able to serve in the military as he wished: FDR’s corrupt administration gave the “high-speed” jobs to the likes of FDR’s son (second in command of Carlson’s Raiders) and JFK.

    Prior to the 1960 election, Nixon anticipated a gentleman’s contest with his friend Jack, Joe Kennedy in fact indicated support for Nixon if Jack lost the Democrat primary. Nixon was surprised at the cutthroat campaign that resulted, and he felt that he lost the election due to fraud.

    Watergate, IMO, was a result of Nixon’s experience with the corrupt Democrats. He tried to take them on in their own game, and lost big time.

    A good thing Nixon did: legalize gold.

  6. troutsky Says:

    So Nixon watched another 26,000 young Americans and who-knows-how-many innocent civilians die so the US would not lose face and you think this was a good idea? Because our national pride was at risk? Why not tell the whole story, like Truman supporting colonialist France over the nationalists? Like Eisenhour and Dulles and their friend Diem deciding there would be no national elections because they knew the Viet Minh would win overwhelmingly. Or Kennedy in 1960 looking at the Wall and the Bay of Pigs and saying “Now we have a problem in making our power credible.” Bad ideas are bad ideas but they are compounded when you let your pride and vanity overwhelm your better sense.and not allow you to admit your mistakes.Neo.

  7. Zack H Says:

    We are never leaving Iraq (even is we lose more soldiers than the 65,000 lost in Vietnam). However,Iraq is a diversion. As the army attacks Iraq, the US gov’t erodes rights at home by suspending habeas corpus, stealing private lands, banning books like “America Deceived” from Amazon, America Deceived (book) rigging elections, conducting warrantless wiretaps and starting 2 illegal wars based on lies. Soon, another US false-flag operation will occur (sinking of an Aircraft Carrier by Mossad) and the US will invade Iran (on behalf of Israel).

  8. ExPreacherMan Says:

    Good post Neo,

    I was around and politically aware before and during Nixon’s administration.

    I remember the horror of having a United Nations type proxy war with limits upon where, how and who to fight. Like tying one arm and one leg of a soldier, patting him on the head an sending him off to battle.

    The Vietnam war belonged to that crook L. B. Johnson. It was his war.. and it was his decision to fight a no-win war. Revisionists have re-written history.

    It was America’s defeat and it is in the process of being repeated in Iraq if the Libs have their way.

    Too much Lib and not enough guts.

    ExP(Jack)

  9. Don Says:

    So Nixon watched another 26,000 young Americans and who-knows-how-many innocent civilians die so the US would not lose face and you think this was a good idea? Because our national pride was at risk? . . . Bad ideas are bad ideas but they are compounded when you let your pride and vanity overwhelm your better sense.and not allow you to admit your mistakes.

    It is a serious mistake to allow America to loose confidence in its military power, and it is a serious mistake to let the thugs of the world think they can push us around. It isn’t a matter or pride, it is a matter of consequences.

    In WW2, Japan did not attack the USSR because they knew the Red Army would rip them up. They chose to attack the US instead, based upon the theory that we lacked the will to fight.

    It is vitaly important that we retain the will to fight–and that our enemies understand we have that will.

  10. expat Says:

    Question for the trolls: How many foreign news sources do you follow regularly?

  11. anonymous Says:

    Stanford professor and Telos editor Russell Berman’s “The Price of Realism,” is a powerful essay in which he correctly identifies the inability of Iranians and Syrians to stablize Iraq.

    More specifically—so the plan may go—if the US begins to “talk” with Iran and Syria, the axis-of-evil member and its mini-me might stop making trouble and become engaged in the establishment of order in Iraq. Clearly one important and dubious assumption is that the sectarian and factional war in Iraq (which for a long time has surpassed anything like an insurgency against the US) is primarily a function of Iranian and Syrian policies and not—as is much more likely—a consequence of the nature of Iraqi society itself. The regional version of realism which places the emphasis on an arrangement with neighboring states tends to minimize the significance of domestic Iraqi concerns: which is exactly why it involves dismissing “democracy.” Instead of pursuing the establishment of domestic Iraqi institutions, this strategy implies ceding influence to Tehran and Damascus, in order to “solve” Baghdad. (As if the Yugoslav wars could have been solved by “talking” in Budapest and Athens.)
    http://www.telospress.com/main/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=173

    IRANIAN WISHES FROM BBC
    Iran wants a wholesale transformation of its relationship with the United States, which is one of the most antagonistic in the world.

    At the moment attention of the US and its allies is on Iran’s nuclear programme which they say is intended to produce a non-conventional military capability.

    Iran wants to be allowed to continue its programme – including uranium enrichment – which it says is completely peaceful as well as its right under the international non-proliferation regime.

    That means an end to the threat of UN sanctions – which Tehran has been able to avoid so far – and an end to US and Israeli threats of military action to destroy its nuclear facilities.

    In the past, Tehran has had its fingers burnt by trying to open a dialogue with this most hawkish of US administrations.

    In May 2003, for example, it offered to open up its nuclear programme, rein in Hezbollah and co-operate against al-Qaeda, but was reportedly rebuffed as the insistence of former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

    Since then, a right-wing Iranian president has been elected, although overall executive power lies with the religious revolutionary leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei.

    From its past experience, Iran is likely to reject any overtures from the US or its allies for talks on limited issues.

    It wants to be absolved completely from Washington’s designation of it as part of the “axis of evil” – a state to be shunned by Western allies. In other words, Security Guarantees.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6144842.stm

    Even Juan cole admits that the Iranians can’t help “Syria and Iran are not responsible for the resistanc

  12. brad Says:

    Zack has topped all commenters for sheer goofyness. The boy repeats every odd accusation that has been proven silly (or will be when bush leaves office), and finishes with an anti-semetic flurry. Good job Zack! Try taking some logic courses in your junior year of high school.

  13. anonymous Says:

    Cont’d:for the resistance and talking to them is not going to help.

    Tony Karon also reports that Iraq violence is out of anyone’s control.
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1562867,00.html

    The syrians and iranians, like all ME folks are shrewd, and canny. Iran and Syria do not have as much pull as Baker thinks they do. The Iranians and their death squads have not gone unnoticed by many Iraqis and they are called carpet baggers by the resistance according to one of Juan Cole’s friends who used to live in Iraq. The Iranians and Syrians will get what they want from Baker et al, and then surprise, they can’t deliver anything, because the Iraqi insurgencies has taken a life of its own. Having the syrians and the Iranians exploit the the Iraq war in many ways is more disatrous than what we’re facing right now.

  14. Steve Says:

    I always liked Nixon and I don’t see why anyone should apologize for saying so. Although I recall a fellow Marine with an IQ of about 75 who wanted to fight me over it. It was no big deal. Split decision.

    The stakes were very high in the Cold War and we couldn’t just walk out of Vietnam. By the same token, the Watergate scandals which took Nixon down were directly related to quasi-criminal activities on the part of people like Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times (Pentagon Papers.)

    It was an issue of credibility, and it was also an issue of generational civil war on top of the potential for actual racial war. As someone who saw this first hand in the San Francisco Bay Area as a teenager, it was real.

    Okay, Nixon exceeded executive authority and should have lost his job. However, five of his predecessors had done the exact same stuff, and the two immediate predecessors (JFK, and LBJ) were even worse. Nixon was a scapegoat.

    He achieved Detente with the Soviet Union, which facilitated Ostpolitik in Germany, which in turn made Solidarity possible, and which culminated in 1989 in the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end to the Cold War. Nixon was the main architect of that victory.

    He saved Israel’s ass in the Yom Kippur War, even though he was no philosemite, but because he was the first US president to see Israel as a strategic asset to the US.

    He also opened the door to China.

    And he did a lot of this by negotiating, that is, by talking.

  15. Loyal Achates Says:

    One would think that even more important than the ‘will to fight’ was that our enemies don’t think of us as retards.

  16. Don Says:

    The domino theory was proved wrong and Islamic fascism doesn’t exist. What next? Martians?
    justaguy

    Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. They all fell. Like dominos.

  17. Sally Says:

    The problem with the Vietnam war was that it was a fatal mixture — one part inherited colonial war and one part ideological war. America was motivated, quite rightly, by the latter, but too many Vietnamese themselves, in both north and south, were motivated by the simple ideal of national independence. The real failure, then, was a political one — the fact that the US’s ideological enemies had much greater success allying themselves with the nascent Vietnamese nationalism than America did. And bad timing, too, since today, after the historical defeat of the communist ideology, that association would have been much easier to break.

    You win some, you lose some, of course, but it’s certainly true that defeats have consequences that persist long after the event. In this case, the Vietnam defeat may be the greatest single determinant of another, and potentially even more consequential, loss in Iraq. Iraq is a situation almost completely different from Vietnam, other than being another war. A defeat here won’t involve any mere toppling of dominoes — instead it will almost certainly lead to a much larger regional and possibly even global war in the not too distant future, under much more difficult circumstances. That will be a tragedy for everyone, not least the few remaining “moderate” muslims — but that, finally, will be a war that we dare not lose.

  18. pete Says:

    OK folks. Once Again. Why are we in Iraq?

  19. pete Says:

    “A defeat here won’t involve any mere toppling of dominoes — instead it will almost certainly lead to a much larger regional and possibly even global war in the not too distant future, under much more difficult circumstances.”

    Really! Please tell us exactly how this “global war” is going happen. If you supported this invasion, please tell us why?

  20. troutsky Says:

    I agree there are consequences to being percieved as weak but we have the worlds largest,highest tech military ON THE PLANET people, by a magnitude of ten. We have the largest economy on the planet, we have the largest nuclear capability. We aren’t percieved as weak for Christs sake, we are percieved as an empire, a stupid, dangerous one, with citizens who support their leaders even when THEY support ruthless dictatorial regimes (Samoza, Pinochet,SADAAM, the Saudis etc etc)We are percieved as arrogant and hypocritical. Israel nukes? Look the other way.Israel occupation? Look the other way.Military dictator in Pakistan? You got it.Suharto? Great guy.Arbentz? Try a coup.

  21. douglas Says:

    Your first Nixon Quote:
    “…let me begin by describing the situation I found when I was inaugurated on January 20.
    -The war had been going on for 4 years.
    -31,000 Americans had been killed in action.
    -The training program for the South Vietnamese was behind schedule.
    -540,000 Americans were in Vietnam with no plans to reduce the number.
    -No progress had been made at the negotiations in Paris and the United States had not put forth a comprehensive peace proposal.
    -The war was causing deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.

    In view of these circumstances there were some who urged that I end the war at once by ordering the immediate withdrawal of all American forces.”

    Sounds familiar, no? What really struck me on reading that is the one difference- not 2800 KIA, 31,000 KIA. Lower by more than a factor of ten. Doesn’t that strike anyone else?

    Troutsky, here’s why we don’t give you much credit-
    “we have the worlds largest,highest tech military ON THE PLANET people, by a magnitude of ten. We have the largest economy on the planet, we have the largest nuclear capability. We aren’t percieved as weak for Christs sake, we are percieved as an empire, a stupid, dangerous one”

    It’s pretty obvious that what is meant is weak of SPIRIT. A weakness of WILL. All the rest of that is meaningless without the spirit and will to preserve it. Of course, the one thing in our favor is that we do have the will, unfortunately it takes too much to bring it out, and then lots more people die. Don’t try so hard to shoehorn everything into the U.S. imperialist worldview you’ve put on, life is more complicated than that.

    Pete: “If you supported this invasion, please tell us why?”

    For the thousandth time… We invaded because of 9-11. No, not because we believed Saddam was directly responsible (though it’s still possible, though unlikely). Because 9-11 shifted the paradigm. Containment, as a feasible philosophy, was blown out of the sky. People like Saddam, had already shown a complete disregard for international decorum in his invasion of Kuwait, his plot to assassinate Bush 41, his flaunting of the UN resolutions and OIF… I could go on, but you get the picture. given that, after 9-11 it was completely irresponsible to leave in power someone for whom the use of terrorists as a proxy would be very, VERY appealing. I dare say it was likely, and was already happening to some extent in lines of communication being opened up, and support of the Palestinian suicide bombers. It’s pretty obvious, really. So why the silly questions?

  22. Sergey Says:

    Every healthy society police itself. If this is not done properly, crime flourish. And international community is not an exeption. But until now it has not police force adequate for the job of removing dangerous psychos like Saddam and Ahmedinjad. All these Jihad nuts would be much more low-profile if such force existed. And physically it exist, the only one: US armed forces. But legally and morally it still has not established itself. This is a pity, indeed.

  23. strcpy Says:

    As someone who never grew up with any extra baggage from Nixon and Vietnam I never really understood it (I’m 31, soon to be 32).

    I remember in high school first learning what Watergate was. I was, shall we say, underwhelmed. Still, I didn’t really care about politics at that time. I never understood calling Vietnam “Nixon’s war” either. It seemed that if one were to “blame” what happened on anyone it would be Johnson (who did the big escalation) or Kennedy who started it. Nixon finally tried to fight the war and eventually pulled out.

    Our teacher was an old hippie, one of the worst grades I ever received on something I actually did (I was notorious for simply ignoring projects) was an essay on “Nixon’s war” where I pointed out that all the crap he complained about happened under Johnson. My first introduction to the Left.

    About the time I really started paying attention to politics was right before “Monicagate”. To this day I still see perjury in front of a federal grand jury and subsequent semi-voluntary disbarment to be much worse, yet totally accepted (in fact, I regularly heard that Nixon tried to shut the whole govt down in Watergate, though I never heard any evidence for this). Unfortunately for the prof at this point I was older and well aware of what the Dean of the college would say. My essays didn’t stay bad grades for long (though I made no friends).

    For me, most of what I read from the guy was pretty good stuff. He seemed fairly sharp, though I never understood why he did what he did, I also never understood why Clinton did what he did either. Had both of them pretty much admitted it (and, in fact, Nixon didn’t know about the recording till *after* they were done) little would have happened. They both seemed too sharp to get caught by this, though I think that has something to do with it (both thought they were sharp enough to get away with it).

    I find quite a few old lefties (currently known as neocons) that are surprised that Nixon had some really great stuff to say. Though no matter how much they find they can never shake the idea that he was some sinister being. There is just too much conventional wisdom that he was a crooked crook and Watergate was the worst thing in history, regardless of the fact that by todays standard Watergate wouldn’t even make the news. People my age and younger tend to either hate him for reasons they can not say (they give the vague “he was crooked because what he did was bad!!!”) or are confused as to why what he did was so bad.

  24. South Vietnamese Says:

    America did not lose in Vietnam. America quit in Vietnam. America backed the 1963 regime change that took out Diem three weeks before JFK was assassinate. LBJ took over and the rest is history.

  25. grackle Says:

    [Blah, blah , blah] … we are perceived as an empire, a stupid, dangerous one, with citizens who support their leaders even when THEY support ruthless dictatorial … [blah, blah, blah].

    Foreign Policy Lesson #1, combined with a short history lesson.

    It’s just after WW2. It would behoove any administration of any industrialized nation to insure their industries of the ability to buy oil on the world market. In order for THAT to happen there must be oil for sale. So ALL the industrialized countries, not just the US, seek trade agreements and alliances in the Middle East. At this time just after WW2 there are NO democracies in the Middle East; democracy will only be bought to the Middle East many years later, by the USA. Virtually EVERY country in the Middle East at this time is ruled by dictators who gained power by force of arms.

    So why does the US support dictators in the Middle East? For the simple reason that there are NO DEMOCRACIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO SUPPORT other than what democracies the US can help bring into being, such as in Iraq; because there were NO democracies to support when trade agreements and alliances were necessary for the economic health of the nation. In fact, ALL nations who are players on the world scene have alliances with “dictators,” not just the US.

    I’ve never understood what the Left finds so ominous about the situation, but if you’re fixated on the idea that the US is evil – ALL history is stuffed willy-nilly into the AMERIKA IS UNIQUELY EVIL Template.
     

  26. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “Though no matter how much they find they can never shake the idea that he was some sinister being.”

    That’s because the media hates Nixon more than anyone else, even Dubya. Their brilliant burning hatred colors all reporting about him, even today. Sadly, even we neocons rely upon the media for information, so tight is their monopoly on it. There is no way to escape the taint of Nixon-hate that permeates everything we see and hear.

    Nixon might have been a hero, or a villain, but we’ll never know for sure because the media won’t allow any information to be spread about him that doesn’t paint him as a worse monster than Hitler, Osama, and Lee Harvey Oswald combined. All we can tell is that something is just not right about the official view of Nixon, as people that utterly depraved and evil only seem to exist in comic books and fairy tales. The fact that whenever we ask how someone more demonic than Darth Vader could become president of the US always gets answered with hand-waving and rants about “sheeple” and “vote fraud” doesn’t inspire trust.

  27. Mike Bourne Says:

    It is sad in some very large measure that the moral clarity that exists in Nixon’s embracing the goals of the U.S. in Vietnam (to his own peril) was absent in his approach to dealing with his critics. Had he done so in that instance, it may very well have meant a monumentally different outcome in Vientnam and a much different picture in the world at large now.

    Communism’s moral and idealogical bankruptcy revealed itself to the world over the last century and burned itself out. The Islamofacist’s have now filled the vacuum since there promulgation of a similarly bankrupt ideology laid dormant for so many years was rekinded by their mistaken assumption that their victory over the U.S.S.R in Afganistan was at their own hands.

    They have been so emboldened by this mistaken assumption, that they believe that they can now defeat the infidel precepts of freedom and democracy embodied by the U.S.. Sadly, it has become almost temptingly, surreally true.

    As we trudge along suffereing the daily recriminations of the “hate Bush” crowd, we find ourselves upon the precipice where, we may repeat our mistake in Vietnam by abandoning Iraq before asserting the principles of Democracy as superior to oppression, and cast the die against the spread and flourishing of democracy.

    This places us much closer to the precipice of a destructive eruption of violence in this Third World War. While not yet quite ineveitable, the enemies of the U.S. and democratic principles are gaining the incremental victories to embolden them to persue this fool’s rush that will end in the deaths of hundreds of millions of innocent people and the near destruction of the planet.

    We as Americans (not the looney liberals who hate this country) so deeply will not suffer the destructon of the principles we cherish to suffer at the hands of the mad ideologs that wish to subsume our culture to the tenets of Islam. But then, they believe that their supperior numbers will allow them to survive the ultimate clash.

    Let us hope that some miracle allows us to work through this very dangerous time. We all went down a similar road in the 1930′ believing that rhetoric was rhetoric only and not a statement of purpose. In that instance we were woefully mistaken. Will we repeat that mistake?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    So why does the US support dictators in the Middle East? For the simple reason that there are NO DEMOCRACIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO SUPPORT other than what democracies the US can help bring into being, such as in Iraq; because there were NO democracies to support when trade agreements and alliances were necessary for the economic health of the nation. In fact, ALL nations who are players on the world scene have alliances with “dictators,” not just the US.

    I’ve never understood what the Left finds so ominous about the situation, but if you’re fixated on the idea that the US is evil – ALL history is stuffed willy-nilly into the AMERIKA IS UNIQUELY EVIL Template.

    You see, grackle, this is the type of ‘lack of rigorous(elementary I’d say) thinking”that those ordinary folks simply don’t understand.

    First off, the U.S in the middle east ACTIVELY supports dictatorships – that is, when movements for reform and democracy do take place i.e democratic elections in Iran – the U.S simply goes OUT OF IT’S WAY to undermine and destroy the process.

    THE REASON FOR THIS is that when democratic ideals take place the DANGER is that an independent nation might expect more things from it’s government or elect somebody who decides to NATIONALIZE THE OIL INDUSTRY -it’s profits might go to the benefit of the populace, and not a few rich autocrats(very much mirroring the political situation in America actually).

    This means less CONTROL. And seeing as U.S CULTURE, U.S HEGEMONY and IDEALISM has so little credibility outside of the U.S, the great thinkers in the U.S CORPORATE POLITICAL CLASS feel that they stand to lose that source of ‘STUPENDOUS SOURCE’ of POWER , namely middle east OIL in a democratic, FREE MARKET of global economics. See the hypocrisy?

    And if you doubt that the U.S establishment has held this policy for the better part of 100 years than you only need to look into declassified NSA and State Department memos – or even take a close listen to the words of just about every U.S President after the WW2 to hear this policy explicitly.

    So nevermind the crap about America being ‘uniquely evil’ – it isn’t whether we thinks it’s evil – it is what it is.

    So it’s up to YOU to decide whether undermining democracy, actively destabilizing democratically elected governments, invasion, occupation, carpet bombing and yes, supporting brutal dictatorships EXPLICITLY is evil. And if you are – which I’m sure you are with all the Nazi references you make – than the next question is whether you are able to make the minimum effort to look and mirror and be honest.

    We’re more interested in the truth, cutting out the hypocrisy, and supporting the fundamental changes that are absolutely neccessary if we’re to survive as a species and as a planet.

  29. Sergey Says:

    The opening salvoes of large-scale confrontation will began much sooner that most people expect. Russian anti-missle complexes “Tor” are already in Tehran. They are mighty weapons, making bombing impossible. At spring 2007 they will be operational. So window of opportunity to derail Iranian nuclear armament will close pretty soon. I expect massive bombing of 1500 nuclear targets in Iran in winter to come. If US would not do it, Israel would. It have no choice.

  30. kungfu Says:

    If you really want to know what was wrong with Vietnam, read Martha Gelhorn’s “The Face of War.” Read her WWII section and then read her Vietnam section. Note the difference in her reporting. She sounds like an unapologetic propagandist for the War Department in the former, but this is not the case in the latter.

  31. gcotharn Says:

    Reading this post, I’m reminded of three things:

    1) My respect for Nixon’s patriotism. The man believed the nation was more important than his personal ambition. Nixon’s resignation contrasts sharply with Clinton’s cling to power. Nixon’s concession of the 1960 election contrasts sharply with Gore’s actions in 2000. Nixon’s quoted remarks about Vietnam contrast sharply with current politicos – who are willing to sacrifice: America’s safety, the West’s safety, our Iraqi allies, and innocent Iraqi citizens – just to score personal political points. Reprehensible.

    2) John Cleese’ character’s taunting of the Kevin Kline character in “A Fish Called Wanda”:
    “They really kicked your (U.S.A’s) ass in Vietnam!”

    3) The beat which is constantly drummed into Jihadist heads by their leaders: America has not the will to finish a fight. We will wear her down. It is a certainty.

  32. armchair pessimist Says:

    Damn! but I ‘ve got Putin envy. Why can’t we off our press too?

  33. Sergey Says:

    “undermining democracy, actively destabilizing democratically elected governments, invasion, occupation, carpet bombing and yes, supporting brutal dictatorships EXPLICITLY is evil.”

    US never undermined democracy in ME and in Third World in general by very simple reason: there never was a democracy to undermine.

    “democratically elected governments” can be very undemocratic. Hitler was elected by huge majority. HAMAS also, and this is is facsist, genocidal, terroristic organization. Iran also.

    The main priciple of US international policy for decades was “do not destabilize authoritarian regime if it has no democratic alternative”. Resonable enough, and since in Third World democracy is impossible, US supported dictators seeking stability. Only recently neocons decided change the rules and abandon stability fetishism for “creative destruction”.

    Excessive moralism in politics is stupid. The best example – Jimmy Carter, the worst president in last century. Sometimes it is better to support secular dictator than allow religious fanatics came to power.

    There were no carpet bombing since Vietnam era, and even then only jungle with Vietkong positions were bombed this way.

    Invasion and occupation sometimes are the only means to prevent enemy obtain WMD. In politics goals justify means.

  34. some dude annoyed by morons... Says:

    “Can you give any examples of UNSC resolutions that post Kuwait Iraq flaunted? I keep hearing this meme from the warmongers but have never actually been given one example.”

    Are you for real? Perhaps a visit to an ear or eye doctor will cure your stupidity. Go read UN Res. 1441 to see the litany of Saddam’s sins or perhaps the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 which passed 98-0 in Congress. Now you’ve been given 2 examples. Mmmkay?

  35. douglas Says:

    Justaguy, why can’t you do your own homework?

    googled “saddam” “flaunt” “inspections”

    Second hit- that right wing media organ, the NYT, list of pieces by late former exec. editor of the OpEd page, Rosenthal-

    Times Select Content On My Mind; Bridge-Burning Time
    By A. M. ROSENTHAL

    A M Rosenthal Op-Ed column says unless Pres Clinton assumes international leadership and responsibility Iraqi Pres Saddam will continue to flaunt UN Security Council resolutions.

    A little more searching:

    From a review of “The Bomb in my Garden”:
    “In the chapter called “Nuclear Hide and Seek,” Obeidi spells out the extent of lies and deception that Iraq employed to mislead the inspectors. This included, between inspections, gutting buildings and reconstructing their walls and floors with non-radioactive materials to disguise their original purpose. But the time was too short to accomplish the amount of destruction required and the inspection teams found nuclear-related material in the temporary nuclear weapons program headquarters. In one instance, Saddam was so incensed that he kept the entire inspection team in the parking lot for four days while he tried to recover documents seized by the inspectors.

    When Obeidi began meeting with inspectors, he lied and obfuscated as instructed, since Saddam was still in power. The secrets remained buried in his garden through the years when he resumed civilian work. The return of inspectors in 2002 raised personal questions for Obeidi about what to do with the secret cache; but he opted to keep it hidden. Only after allied troops occupied Baghdad did he feel secure enough to reveal his secret. Obeidi claims that the occupation bureaucracy at first did not handle well his attempt to reveal what he knew and possessed. But after a brief arrest, he was brought to the United States with his family.”

    More searching:
    Ten there’s this, and since they also accuse the US of deception, you can’t say they’re on my side, but they support my assertion that Saddam did everything he could to deceive the inspectors:

    The hijacking of UNSCOM

    By Susan Wright
    May/June 1999 pp. 23-25 (vol. 55, no. 03) © 1999 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    Saddam Hussein’s campaign to conceal his biological and chemical weaponry was a major catalyst for UNSCOM’s problems. Had Iraq fully declared its biological and chemical weapons programs under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 687 and 707, UNSCOM’s role could have been restricted to confirming declarations and reporting to the U.N. Security Council.

    Instead, the agency’s tasks evolved from gathering information to countering an elaborate game of deception. In so doing, UNSCOM became a pawn in another game of deception being played by the United States.

    Now I disagree with their perceptions of what the United States did, but it certainly backs me, and not you. It also demonstrates that I, like most here, I suspect, re

  36. Ymarsakar Says:

    Justa doesn’t do his homework because he likes annoying and pinging you guys. Or whoever will respond, I suppose. A game. I can play games too. Fetch!

    We can’t be like Russia because Bush is keeping America from becoming a fascist state. Off Bush and get John Kerry, then it will be another story.

  37. douglas Says:

    Sergey: “Russian anti-missle complexes “Tor” are already in Tehran. They are mighty weapons, making bombing impossible.”

    No worries Sergey. The TOR system is listed at being effective to 20,000 feet. Operational ceiling of the B-2 bomber, officially listed at 50,000 feet. Wave one of any military action against Iran turns those 29 brand spanking new missile systems to dust on the ground before the third B-2 gets there. Your Russian brothers were just making an easy buck.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    somedude – your the moron dude. The Iraq Liberation Act wasn’t a UNSC resolution.

    And res.1441 didn’t authorize a unilateral attack on Iraq. That is a fact. And of course the reasons for the attack have since been proved absolutely false – and were easily proved false at the time, too.

    The Security Council must vote and give explicit authority to attack. It wasn’t given – there was no vote(which would have been vetoed anyway)so this is an illegal war; a crime(called ‘aggression’)a clear violation of the UN charter.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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