January 24th, 2007

State of the State of the Union 2007: late and getting later

Overheard in the locker room last night before the President’s speech, from some twentysomethings:

I’m not going to watch Bush tonight. It offends me to hear him. I’ll just listen to Al Franken tomorrow and he’ll tell me all I need to know.

Okay, moving right along–

Maybe Bush should give a State of the Union speech once a month; this seems rather surprising, a positive reaction from viewers. My guess is that this initial public response will probably fade, if it exists at all. And perhaps the people polled–who, after all, were the ones already watching Bush’s speech, unlike the young woman quoted above–were predisposed towards Bush in the first place (even though they consisted of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents).

As for the speech itself–I’m not a big fan of State of the Union speeches as a whole. They tend to be laundry lists. But this one showed that Bush still has some fight in him–and, if not Churchillian eloquence, at least some ability to state the sobering facts of our current situation, and the consequences of a pullout (consequences barely mentioned by his opponents).

Jules Crittendon is impressed by what he sees as a sort of eloquence in Bush, at least about the all-important topic of the war. He writes of Bush:

But let’s let this great American orator, finally coming into his own, with quiet confidence and determination even in lonely leadership so deep into this war, tell it himself.

And then he quotes words which, if not exactly Churchillian, could–if America would listen, really listen and take them in–inspire the absolutely vital and necessary will to see this battle through:

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

Many understand that; many do not. Many act as though they do not care. I was listening to Bush’s speech for the most part rather than watching, only glancing up every now and then, so I didn’t notice this myself (although Crittenden disagrees and says even the Dems applauded):

As the president asked for a chance to make his Iraq policy work, Republicans leaped to applaud. Pelosi and the Democrats remained seated.

Speaking of leaping, some previously quoted words of Bush’s leapt out at me, and I repeat them for emphasis:

…it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned…

Unfortunately, one of the reasons we are facing the situation we’re in today is that, in recent decades, too often it has been exactly “like us” to do just that. Vietnam, for example. The aftermath of the first Gulf War. And now the constant drumbeat in Congress about Iraq. Our enemies are neither blind, deaf, nor dumb. That’s why Saddam played footage of those helicopters on the Saigon roof before our recent invasion of Iraq. He knew that America lacked patience, and he wanted his people to know it. And he was correct.

Can Bush’s rhetoric infuse the country with the requisite will? I don’t think so; the will itself has to be there in the first place, even for Churchill and the British. I wonder whether the unrelentingly gloomy prognostications in the press, the short attention span of modern life, the lack of knowledge of history, and the frivolity reflected in the overheard comments with which I began this piece don’t make it impossible to sustain anything like the sort of mindset we are going to need for this battle.

And need it we will, no matter who is in charge next time, Democrats or Republicans. Because, as Bush said last night:

We know with certainty that the horrors of that September [11th] morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us–unless we stop them.

97 Responses to “State of the State of the Union 2007: late and getting later”

  1. stumbley Says:

    The young woman’s comment you referenced at the beginning of the post reminds me of a discussion I had with a colleague who was a vehement supporter of then-President Clinton. I asked him why he was so vociferous in his support; what was it that Clinton had done that had so impressed him? What were the policies, the legislation that had made his life better? His answer? “Well, I don’t pay that much attention to politics, but I like what he’s done.”

    My feeling is that the generally positive press that Clinton received during most of his presidency was reflected in my colleague’s attitude—the papers and TV told him things were great, so things just HAD to be great, didn’t they? Now, when the economy is churning along, the stock market is closing at record highs, oil prices are declining, unemployment is at historic lows, more people (including minorities) own and are starting businesses than ever before, better than 60% of citizens polled think the country’s on the WRONG TRACK???!!!?? What the heck would be the RIGHT track?

    It’s in its relentless portrayal of gloom and doom that I think today’s MSM has poisoned discourse in this country. I ask the same colleague today what he thinks about the President, citing the positive factors above, and get “worst president ever.”

    Go figure.

  2. jgr Says:

    Neo, all of your posts (the two previous included) are very good. To continue Stumbley’s point, I think the Dems are offering the enticing illusion of a pre 9-10 world. Hillary is the perfect symbol. Her husband was the high (actually low) point of that time. It’s easy to avoid facing reality when the MSM assures voters illusion is truth.

    Al Gore was one of the inventors of the idea that the war on terror was a creation of George Bush. Terrorism a creature of domestic politics. The phobia against Bush may have its roots in the demonization which was a rampant feature of the Clinton years. Those in 1995 America who sought to destroy Bill, now threaten the world Bill bequeathed, all focused in the malevolent figure of George Bush. It’s deeper than this, of course. Neo has written well about the popular culture of the Left; all of that is threatened by a real America facing her enemies. The Left have lost–are losers, but they fight death viciously.

  3. Cappy Says:

    Hi, Cappy here, just popping in before the “respect for third world cultures/why do they hate us?/Kumbiyah” trolls show up.

  4. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    At our Faculty Senate Meeting today (a very large University in Florida) the person next to me asked, “Did you see that smirk on Cheney’s face when Bush mentioned ethanol?” as the Welfare Committee reported that they would keep everyone advised of the Legislature and developments concerning the ‘so-called’ Academic Bill of Rights. Well there were too many tender ears for a retort, but in the process of taking notes I penned a few belated ones:

    A. What do I care if Cheney smirks? He has a sense of humor – so what?

    B. Don’t you have some papers to grade?

    C. Did you see that smirk on Ahmadinejad’s face when he said, “Israel and America will soon be destroyed.”

  5. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    Picking up on jgr’s Al Gore was one of the inventors of the idea that the war on terror was a creation of George Bush.

    And who was (Gore) an important player in the development of The Iraq Liberation Act in October 31, 1998

    William Jefferson Clinton: “Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region. The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq’s history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.”

  6. Zeno Says:

    Al Gore was one of the inventors of the idea that the war on terror was a creation of George Bush.

    And he invented the Internet too. And global warming. Is he a candidate?

  7. Zeno Says:

    The impression I have is that politicians, being politicians, will always say what they think their electorate is thinking, or what the media is saying. But few act based on their principles.
    Bush, for good and bad – when he’s right but also when he’s wrong – strikes me as one of those few. It’s something. But explains his low popularity…

  8. Ymar Says:

    Politicians are rubber. You can bend them if you have enough power and will. They are servants really, not rulers. Public servants.

    Justice is not blind.

    For we are her eyes.

  9. DonkeyKong Says:

    “That’s why Saddam played footage of those helicopters on the Saigon roof before our recent invasion of Iraq. He knew that America lacked patience, and he wanted his people to know it. And he was correct.”-Neo

    10 years, half a million troops at it’s highwater mark, 275 billion spent. We lost our patience!

    No, the people running the war in DC as well as the Pentagon did’nt know what they were doing.

    When somebody keeps lying to you to cover their incompetence over 10 years and 58,000 lives lost. You lose a little more than patience. It just doesnt occur to you Neo, you don’t understand Vietnam, therefore you don’t understand Iraq.

    History doesnt repeat itself, but it rhymes.

  10. stumbley Says:

    DK, how old are you? You don’t seem to have the foggiest notion of what Vietnam was all about. We “lost” in Vietnam for the same reasons we are “losing” in Iraq—a political climate that hamstrings the armed forces and a press that relentlessly denigrates the administration in power. The ROE in Vietnam were hopelessly stacked against American troops: NO fighting in the North, NO mining or blockade of Haiphong harbor, NO interdiction of supply lines from Laos and Cambodia. Had we ruthlessly done any of those things, the outcome in Vietnam would likely have been different.

    Same with Iraq; if we were to ruthlessly punish both the Sunni and Shia death squads and militias, as well as the members of the government who are backing them, if we were to interdict supply lines from Iran and Syria, and yes, actually go after the “insurgents” who are infiltrating from those countries, even to the extent of crossing borders, Iraq would be different as well.

    But in neither case, Vietnam or Iraq, does the Congress have the political will to allow the military to do what’s necessary. And the President is hamstrung by the necessity of appearing “diplomatic” and “sensitive” to global Islam. These factors, coupled with—as I’ve said above—relentless negativity and outright fabrication by the world press, make it extremely difficult to achieve the President’s goals.

    But you don’t want a free and democratic Iraq, anyway.

  11. DonkeyKong Says:

    Oh little Stumbly. If I could pat your tiny little head while explaining how wrong you are I would.

    Taking “off the gloves” and “doing what we have to do” (People always talk tough when they don’t kow what in the hell they are saying) would have required an invasion of the North.

    1 1/2 million troops at least. Double the war cost per year. Explain to the american people why we needed to do that. Hope the Chinese would’nt get involved like they did in Korea. Mine harbors in North Vietnam, yeah lets go to war with the Soviets, why not. Interdiction of supply lines in Cambodia and Loas, hello. We did that for 10 years. Laos is still the most bombed country in the world. Our invasion of Cambodia swelled the ranks of the Khmer Rouge, and we know what happend after that.

    Good god stumbly, you have plenty of bureaucratic dopplegager’s in the pentagon and state.

    You might get your wish.

    People like you and neo think you can build a democracy out of a pyramid of skulls.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    And you, DK, what do you build a democracy out of? What do YOU want to see in Iraq, and how do you get there? I’d really like an answer. Please engage in honest discussion. Again, how old are you?

  13. Huan Says:

    As a Vietnamese expat and refugee from the US betrayal and abandonment of South Viet Nam, and knowing how the press misrepresented the progress of the war, i would say that Neo-Neocon is among the growing number of Americans who actually are coming to understand what really did happened to South Viet Nam 30 years ago.

    But DK does not. I would recommend he starts by reading Vo Nguyen Giap.

    “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
    If Americans understood, America would weep in shame.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Plus, you mention the “mountain of skulls.” What would you call the RESULT of leaving Vietnam? Millions dead in Cambodia and Vietnam, boat people, reeducation centers, etc. We really stopped the dying when we left, eh?

  15. Huan Says:

    btw, most Vietnamese refugees in the US are both appreciative of the reception we have received from Americans here, but are also bemused and saddened by the naivite and lack of resolve of modern America, and how easily the media manipulates popular opinion and culture.

  16. Kurt Says:

    Of course, DonkeyKong, the real pyramids of skulls could be found in Cambodia after the US withdrew from Vietnam, thereby changing the dynamics of the region from bad to worse. But I suppose that the deaths of millions of asians don’t count in your bizarre moral calculus. Just like the deaths of arabs won’t count when the same thing happens after the Democrats force a premature withdrawal from Iraq.

    Tonight on ABC news, I saw a story about how violence was affecting the lives of Iraqi children. And I thought: “Just what kind of deluded souls believe that violence will go away or diminish if we withdraw our forces and let the whole country slide into bloody chaos?”

  17. stumbley Says:

    Saw the same set of stories on ABC, Kurt. 3 main stories about Iraq, and NONE positive. Nothing positive happened in Iraq today? Not ONE THING? News organizations are always preaching to us about how “comprehensive” their coverage is.

    Pitiful. Traitorous. Despicable.

  18. Wild Rice Says:

    …what really did happened to South Viet Nam…“:
    …what really did happened to South Viet Nam…“:

    Hmmm. Yes. Another defeatist who believes that the Viet Nam war is lost. Look, it is quite simple. If you wish to continue fighting the Viet Nam war then you singly, or in the company of others, are welcome to do so. It is just a matter of picking up you weapon and getting your butt over there.
    Hmmm. Yes. Another defeatist who believes that the Viet Nam war is lost. Look, it is quite simple. If you wish to continue fighting the Viet Nam war then you singly, or in the company of others, are welcome to do so. It is just a matter of picking up you weapon and getting your butt over there.

  19. Wild Rice Says:

    News organizations are always preaching to us about how “comprehensive” their coverage is.“:

    From a market point of view there must be a very large demand for the unreported “good news stories” to be reported. I’m surprised that some entrepreneurial person here has not gone to Iraq to report these stories.

    Unfortunately I cannot include myself as a candidate. My entrepreneurial flair is limited to running book on how lone he or she would remain alive.

  20. JonBuck Says:

    I am spreading these links everywhere. They are a must read for Left and Right alike:

    Part 1

    Part 2

  21. DonkeyKong Says:

    Ok kids, trying to turn Nixon and Kissinger into freedom fighters of the vietnam era.

    Talking about “taking off the gloves” and “ruthless clapdowns” out of one side of your mouth, then respect for the lives of muslims with the other in Iraq.

    I guess this is the place to witness cons and neo’s have ideological aneurism’s

  22. grackle Says:

    When somebody keeps lying to you to cover their incompetence over 10 years and 58,000 lives lost.

    If the commentor would provide some links to some lies as quoted by “somebody”(Bush, Cheney, Gabby Hayes? Why ARE they always so vague with their accusations?) perhaps we could all become as upset as the commentor.

    No quotes allowed unless they can be checked – For instance there’s probably transcripts of ALL of Bush’s speeches and pronouncements on the internet. Bush’s UN speech is definitely on the internet. You would probably find all of these at the Whitehouse site. Read some of these, find the lies and link to them here. Ditto Cheney or whoever else you have in mind.

    I’m afraid I have to eliminate hearsay, you know, the tactic of quoting those who SAY they ‘overheard’ “somebody” say so and so. And no quotes from ‘unnamed sources,’ as in, An unnamed source in the Whitehouse said today that President Bush was quite upset about the price of tea in China. Column writers make this crap up wholesale, so THAT’S out. If a newspaper article doesn’t name sources – that’s BY NAME – not as in, After the meeting adjourned one of the participants said that during the meeting President Bush demanded that congress should immediately declare war on Liechtenstein, then it can’t be used since there’s no name given, just a claim by the writer that “one of the participants” said Bush said something.

    OK? Got it straight? To reiterate: Original sources, linked to the transcripts which have the ACTUAL words from the original speaker(Bush?) so we can all check for ourselves whether the quote is valid.

    It is just a matter of picking up you weapon and getting your butt over there.

    I just might if the soldiers already there weren’t doing such a good job. But there’s so much work to do right here in the US – there’s people like the commentor to correct and demand they back up their words – the Propaganda War here on the home front – ALL the misinformation, distortions, hearsay and lies to combat.


  23. JonBuck Says:


    No response to Huan. Funny, that. I suppose he’s saying things you don’t want to hear.

    I challenge you to read the two links I posted above.

  24. stumbley Says:

    DK can’t respond to Huan. That would be an actual dialog with someone who knows what he’s talking about.

    Yo, Wild Rice: try going over to Hot Air and viewing Michelle Malkin’s report from Baghdad. She actually lived through it!

    You people are really pieces of….work.

  25. DonkeyKong Says:

    Haun, after the US fought for 10 years, expended 275 billion, and 58,000 of it’s countrymen, why did your government fall in 4 months (January 1975-April 1975.)

    We did’nt betray you.

    Oh I know, if we had only stayed another six months we would have won.

  26. somuch Says:

    Part One: Paraphrasing Some on The Right

    – Are there moderate Muslims? No. Looky here…quoting Koran, etc.,

    Part Two: paraphrasing some on The Right

    – Keep on keeping on in Iraq. “Muslims” will run a democratic government when we get it right. Beacon of democracy?

    Explain. You either trust them or you don’t.

    My overall point: if you believe Iraq can be run democratically by Muslims shutup with the paranoia. Stop acting like bigots then. Stop whitewashing them as a group.

    Iraq sure as hell is not going to be run by Conservative Republicans no matter what happens.

  27. Wild Rice Says:

    “But there¿s so much work to do right here in the US…“:

    Of course. Other priorities. How predictable.

  28. Jimmy J. Says:

    I do understand and I have wept in shame. Glad to have you as a fellow citizen, sir.

    And yes, praise be to Neo and others who are getting the word out about the way the press and TV acted as a propaganda force for the North Vietnamese.

    The MSM is, to their continuing shame, doing a repeat performance on Iraq. I fear I will be weeping in shame again unless the new tactics work. Our gallant soldiers are doing magnificent work and their morale is high. Why can’t our law makers and democrats get behind them?

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Donkey Kong was banned some time ago for abusive and trollish comments (not mere disagreement, which doesn’t earn a ban). Ordinarily I delete all further attempts at commentary from a banned person, automatically.

    But every now and then I keep such comments up, even though I know that, in a way, this might encourage the troll to try to return. And in this case, I’ve decided to keep the above comment up.

    The reason? I think DK’s comment above encapsulates in a rather dense packet (“dense” in more ways than one) the combination of ignorance and overwhelming arrogance exhibited by many trolls from the Left. DK trashes the feelings of a Vietnamese refugee about the American betrayal of Vietnam in 1974-5 (whatever happened to the Left’s tender regard for feelings?). But of course, DK knows the history of Vietnam better than Huan. [continued in next comment…]

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    [continued from above comment]

    ….At least in DK’s eyes. The story of why the South Vietnamese government fell in four months is well known. I’ve written about it often (also see this for some background). But DK and his ilk aren’t interested in looking at that sort of thing. They know, they just know; better than articles by officers who were there, and most definitely better than Huan, an actual Vietnamese refugee but one who who–like so many others–isn’t cooperating by parroting what DK wants to hear.

    DK writes, dripping with sarcasm:

    Oh I know, if we had only stayed another six months we would have won.

    But it seems that DK is unaware that the important “we”–our fighting forces–had left Vietnam years earlier (see this post that features a chart illustrating the pace of Vietnamization and the withdrawal of US fighting forces). What precipitated the downfall of South Vietnam was the withdrawal of our money, not ourselves.

    After all that time, DK, it really came down to money. And not a whole lot of it, either. As President Ford wrote at the time:

    In South Vietnam, we have consistently sought to assure the right of the Vietnamese people to determine their own futures free from enemy interference. It would be tragic indeed if we endangered, or even lost, the progress we have achieved by failing to provide the relatively modest but crucial aid which is so badly needed there.

    “Relatively modest but crucial aid”–that’s what it was all about, DK. Money. Money, weariness, and propaganda from the likes of you.

    And people like me to listen to it, and to be taken in by it, to my sorrow. Like Huan says, at least I have the decency to weep in shame. What’s your excuse? Too young to remember?

    This time, I’m not weeping. I’m writing.

  31. grackle Says:

    Of course. Other priorities. How predictable.

    Notice I said “I just might.” If US forces were in some sort of crisis instead of the whipping delivered to the enemy from day one, I MIGHT consider it. But when things are going so well why would they need MY help over there. No, if the war is lost it’ll be lost by the effects of propaganda generated from US antiwar groups right here in the USA. My impact is likely to be greater on the actual outcome of the war if I and others like me counter some of the antiwar propaganda from these parts – that’s much more important in the scheme of things than going to Iraq for no reason.

  32. stumbley Says:

    “Of course. Other priorities. How predictable.”

    Yo, Rice:

    If there actually IS a Civilian Reserve Corps, I’ll offer my services (a little old for anything else). You?

  33. stumbley Says:

    By the way, the “chickenhawk” argument works both ways, you know. What’s YOUR excuse for not pitching in in say, Darfur? All your buddies in Congress leapt to their feet for THAT cause….

  34. grackle Says:

    Of course. Other priorities. How predictable.

    I’m past the age where anyone in Iraq would be interested in having me around. But if I were younger I believe I would jump at the chance to be embedded with a front line unit – the type of thing Michael Yon has done and is doing. It would be THE place to be if one has any aspirations of a literary, political or journalistic nature. Novelists as diverse as James Jones, Hemingway and Mailer drew heavily on personal military experiences to invest their works with a certain credibility and journalistic careers as well as political careers are boosted by a resume sporting war theater experience.

    On another tangent: The necessarily frequent rotations by US Reserve units has provided a common point of reference to quite a few young Americans in the military. If the WOT terror heats up this fact may ultimately have a positive impact on US chances because of Afghanistan and Iraq providing US Reserves with a well of esprit de corps and expertise. Sometimes a seemingly negative thing can turn out to be of unexpected benefit in the long run.

  35. Sergey Says:

    Mass perceptions are very inertial, even more inertial than individual ones. Enormous events are needed to change them. This is especially so when public is invited to switch from some pleasant picture of reality to harsh and grim. Even Churchill had success with public only after Dunkirk catastrophe made denial of reality impossible. This is neatly illustrated by experiments on bivalency of perception: when exposed to series of images gradually morhping from one possible interpretation to another, observers usually lagged, depending on from which end of series demonstration goes. Their previous convictions influence present ones, even on the most elementary and “objective” level of visual recognition.

  36. Aaron Says:

    Re: Vietnam

    Look, we might not have been able to win Vietnam, etc., but for sure, we now know that the VC and NVA LOST the Tet Offensive, but our media said we did.

    And that affected a lot.

    Was it the straw that broke the camel’s back or was it inconseqenetial?

  37. Wild Rice Says:

    But when things are going so well why would they need MY help over there.“:

    I find your sarcasm offensive. It is very wrong of you to attack the efforts of our men and women in Iraq.

    I should not have to remind you that many units are on their second or third tour in Iraq. Maybe if you knew some people in the forces, or their families, and knew of the resulting hardships you would less insulting.

    I really and extremely disgusted!

  38. Wild Rice Says:

    All your buddies in Congress leapt to their feet for THAT cause….“:

    My buddies? And who might they be?

    I have been to Sudan and Chad.

  39. Sissy Willis Says:

    Excellent post. As we discusssed earlier, I totally agree with your observation that

    Unfortunately, one of the reasons we are facing the situation we’re in today is that, in recent decades, too often it has been exactly “like us” to do just that.

    Your list of causes of our fellow citizens’ wobbliness is depressingly on the mark:

    I wonder whether the unrelentingly gloomy prognostications in the press, the short attention span of modern life, the lack of knowledge of history, and the frivolity reflected in the overheard comments with which I began this piece don’t make it impossible to sustain anything like the sort of mindset we are going to need for this battle.

    As Dick Cheney told the WaPo:

    Congressional opposition “won’t stop us” from deploying more troops . . . it will only “validate the terrorists’ strategy.”

  40. Trimegistus Says:

    The remark about getting the news from Al Franken does indicate one of the most alarming developments in modern media: the rise of non-news as people’s main source of information.

    Network news is dying, possibly a slow-motion suicide. But what’s replacing it isn’t news. It’s Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, ostensibly comedians. It’s Al Franken and, yes, Rush Limbaugh, who can at most be called editorialists rather than reporters.

    We’re reaching a situation where right and left wing people live in alternate universes, where even the basic facts of any situation are different for the two sides.

    I think a news organization could gain a truly mass audience and do some real good if they absolutely committed themselves to reporting pure facts, with clear and rigid standards for what is news and a ruthless process of eliminating spin.

    Otherwise American politics will be dominated by whoever the herd-mind of media professionals prefer.

  41. Wild Rice Says:

    As Dick Cheney told the WaPo“:

    It seems that Dick Cheney is the vice president of a nation of traitors. He really needs to consider his position.

  42. stumbley Says:

    “I have been to Sudan and Chad.”

    Yeah, and I’ve been to Burbank. Your point? Were you there with an NGO, doing volunteer work? Were you a mercenary? Did you go for two weeks, months, years? Was it a limousine liberal tour?

    Geez, you pop in with the most inane comments, absolutely off-topic and totally ungermane to the subject, and you expect us to take you seriously?

    “Maybe if you knew some people in the forces, or their families, and knew of the resulting hardships you would less insulting.”

    I do. Do you? I WORK with people who are contributing to the effort. Do you? I’ve SPOKEN at length to people who have served more than two tours; they have overwhelmingly been in support of the mission and would serve as many tours as it took, because they realize the importance of the effort. Do you?

  43. Good Ole Charlie Says:


    Bet you never hear from Wild Rice again…or if you do, the goalposts will mysteriously shift elsewhere.

    I, too, know one of the multi-tour guys. Just back from The Sandbox, he wants to go over again, but soon. He (and his wife) believes that what he is doing over there is making a major difference.

    Maybe not for the Iraqis (although he thinks so), but certainly for the USA’s interests. And the latter is The Convincer for him.

    Wild Rice: If you ever come back, speak to someone besides those either in academia or “the caring professions”. I.e., someone with a connection to The Real World.

    As an academic myself, I know how removed academics are from Reality…their reality exists somewhere else, far, far better than this vale of tears.

    Have a Kleenex on me, WR…

  44. Ymar Says:

    This time, I’m not weeping. I’m writing.
    neo-neocon | Homepage | 01.25.07 – 12:01 am | #

    More power to you Neo.

    I’m quite offended by this comment from DK though, Neo.

    People like you and neo think you can build a democracy out of a pyramid of skulls.
    DonkeyKong | 01.24.07 – 9:37 pm | #

    How dare he leave me out, I am the original pyramid builder of skulls, people. Original.

    Keep fighting the good fight Stumb, but one reason people don’t duel with chickens is that there is no honor in dueling an animal that doesn’t even understand the concept.

  45. TalkinKamel Says:

    DK can’t respond to posters like Huan with anything other than dripping sarcasm, because dripping sarcasm is all he has—he can’t really debate, he has no real arguments.

    DK, stop your sneering, and really respond to the posts and links; and, by the way, what do you really think about the mountain of skulls that really were piled up in Vietnam and Cambodia after America pulled out? Do you really think those deaths somehow don’t matter? That they people who died deserved what they got because they were just American puppets and/or standing in the way of glorious Communism?

    If so, come out and say it—in fact, go to California, Donk m’boy, and say it out loud, right in Little Saigon, or Little Cambodia!

    I’m sure they’d be very happy to be lectured to by you down there. You can tell them what REALLY happened!

  46. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    I wonder whether the unrelentingly gloomy prognostications in the press, the short attention span of modern life, the lack of knowledge of history, and the frivolity reflected in the overheard comments with which I began this piece don’t make it impossible to sustain anything like the sort of mindset we are going to need for this battle.

    I think what you describe above may be play a role in why the President is having trouble sustaining political support for this war, have you also considered the following?:

    1. The changing nature of the mission – from removing a “grave” WMD threat to nation-building.

    2. The Administration’s relentless public insistence for years that everything was going fine even when it obviously wasn’t, the endless “turning of corners” that just led to more blind alleys (the “gloomy prognostications” haven’t been coming only from the press – the DOD’s own reports have been showing it for years, among other sources), the implicit (and even explicit) assumptions before the war that it wouldn’t *really* be so hard, and wouldn’t take *too* long.

    3. The acknowleged unpreparedness for and mishandling of the occupation and insurgency: Why should the public be convinced that *now* they’ll get things right?

    4. The uncertainty of the consequences for US security after even the most positive of outcomes: Given all the other actors (and potential actors) in the world, how exactly a free and democratic Iraq, even after a guerilla war lasting many years and costing tens of thousands of lives and billons of dollars, will decisively reduce the likelihood of another major terrorist attack on the US remains unclear.

  47. grackle Says:

    I find your sarcasm offensive. It is very wrong of you to attack the efforts of our men and women in Iraq.

    Gee, when did I EVER “attack” the US military? On the contrary I have nothing but praise for the US military – who have been doing a good job in the face of antiwar idiocy here in the states. The commentor should do themselves a favor and Google the term “psychological projection” for an insight into their own mentality.

  48. Senescent Wasp Says:

    A prototype for the Civilian Reserve already exists for those with prior military service in certain critical skill areas. Due to the Democrat draw down of the active duty and reserves, when the WOT started some critical specialties were down to a handful of personnel. Retired and prior service people have stepped up to fill some of these positions in non-combat units and in DOD, not all of them that distant from the sound of gunfire.

    It looks like DOD would like to have a core of contract personnel thereby avoiding the striped pants, cookie pushers in State in organizations like the unlamented AID. This is also in line with the initiative to sub contract as much as possible outside the combat and combat support units. Think WASP’s, Merchant Marine and CAP of the WW II period.

    You won’t be a lean, mean trigger pullin’ machine but you could be part of the logistical and administrative tail that support the sharp end. It would help if your clearance is either up to date or easy to do.

    There are opportunities beyond the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

  49. stumbley Says:

    People like DK and Rice infuriate me. They’re the ones who will wail about the carnage in Baghdad, bemoan the “tragic loss of troops,” and criticize America for trying to do something about it. When we ask, “what would happen if we left?”, somehow their objections then shift to the “why aren’t you doing something about Rwanda or Darfur?” arguments, while at the same time complaining that “America can’t be the world’s policeman”.

    I’m firmly convinced that any objections they have to America’s involvement in world affairs arises from their own selfish motives: in their heart of hearts, my guess is that they’re really thinking “Why do anything for the w*gs, the g**ks, or the n***ers? The money they’re wasting over there could be used to fund free health insurance/student loans/better Social Security/food stamps for ME!”

    Most on the Left profess boundless empathy for the world’s downtrodden, but in reality, they give less to charity, volunteer less, and generally are just more selfish than conservatives: http://www.amazon.com/Who-Really-Cares-Compassionate-Conservatism/dp/0465008216/sr=1-1/qid=1169743802/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-1130772-9547922?ie=UTF8&s=books

  50. neoneoconned Says:

    There are opportunities beyond the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

    building model trains?

  51. Isaiah Hunahun Says:

    There are opportunities beyond the 101st Fighting Keyboardists.

    building model trains?

    TRANSLATION: When you are incapable of reasoning with you opponents, try “wishing” them away.

  52. Promethea Says:

    Good Ole Charlie . . .

    “As an academic myself, I know how removed academics are from Reality…their reality exists somewhere else, far, far better than this vale of tears.”

    I thought Neo summed up most of these people so nicely in her post….”ignorance combined with overwhelming arrogance.”

    I wrote this phrase down; it’s so spot on. Plan to use it where necessary.

  53. Huan Says:


    a simple check of history would tell you that South Vietnam did not fall in 4 months. The US withrew all combat troops in 1973 after negotiating a separate peace with North Viet Nam (The South Vietnamese government was intentionally excluded). As a part of this “peace” approximately 100,000 North Vietnamese regular army was allowed to remain inside South Viet Nam. Since Tet in 1968, the Viet Cong were no longer a force (despite what US media reported, Tet was a crushing defeat for the North and the VCs – this should hint at the lie the media propugated that it was a civil war, the North was a separate nation and the Viet Cong were Northern infiltrators). In addition, as part of the “peace” treaty, the South was promised aid should the North reneged and attacked – aid that never came.

    Truly your ignorance is showing with each post.

  54. armchair pessimist Says:

    About the 101st fighting keyboardists:

    We too have our role. Remember the decree of the levee en masse in 1793, which essentially drafted the entire popularion of France into the army. (An army which took all Europe 20 years to defeat, by the way)

    “From this moment until that in which the enemy shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic, all Frenchmen are in permanent requisition for the service of the armies. The young men shall go to battle; the married men shall forge arms and transport provisions; the women shall make tents and clothing and shall serve in the hospitals; the children shall turn old linen into lint; the aged shall betake themselves to the public places in order to arouse the courage of the warriors and preach the hatred of kings and the unity of the Republic.” (my emphasis)

    By the way, this voice of government becomes republics; I wish ours would use it.

  55. TalkinKamel Says:

    There are opportunities beyond the Chicken-hawk Revolutionary Brigade: blowing bubbles, launching ad-hominems, snark, sarcasm, insults, etc.

  56. The Unknown Blogger Says:

    Wow, you know things are bad when you guys start using the FRENCH to justify your behavior! 😉

    But seriously, I understand your point, and I believe that the failure of Bush to ask the public for any sacrifice (beyond paying higher taxes and having their plane trips disrupted) is another reason why many don’t take the War in Iraq more seriously.

  57. SB Says:

    We seem to have built the United States of America out of a pyramid of British skulls. The Jews seem to have built Israel out of a pyramid of Arab skulls. The French built their Republic out of a pyramid of French skulls. The Soviets built the USSR out of a pyramid of Russian skulls. The Chinese built the PRC out of a pyramid of Chinese skulls. The North Vietnamese built the SRVN out of a pyramid of Vietnamese skulls. (In fact, the communists of the 20th century have built any number of countries out of pyramids of skulls.)

    Let’s face it, DK: Skull pyramids work like nothing else does.

    Unfortunately, your little slogan is not true; it merely describes the world as you wish it were, rather than the world as it is. But we need idealists like you, so keep on nobly denying. If you screw up your face and deny really, really hard, maybe…just maybe…your wishes will all come true. Then everybody will like each other all the time, and nations will simply pop into existence as if by magic!

    In the meantime, however, you might want to watch your back lest stronger, badder men than you add your skull to one of their pyramids. (They’ve already got Daniel Perl’s and probably lots of others.) And don’t count on the Democrats to save your sorry cranium. They’re too busy selling out.

  58. Senescent Wasp Says:

    re: the model trains reference.

    conned is is a long time shape shifting troll who uses technical means to avoid Neo’s nasty troll filters. He is angry at being tracked down to his grotty little lair and having his ISP identified; among other things. This resulted in his being put on a security watch list in his country.

    He did a little Googling and believes that he has “outed” the undersigned as a armchair pessimist Says:

    Wow, you know things are bad when you guys start using the FRENCH to justify your behavior!

    Good one! Still, in view of latest polls and resolutions, we’d do well to drop the “cheese eating surrender monkies” stuff. Our own house is made of damn thin glass.

  59. neoneoconned Says:

    “conned is is a long time shape shifting troll who uses technical means to avoid Neo’s nasty troll filters. He is angry at being tracked down to his grotty little lair and having his ISP identified; among other things. This resulted in his being put on a security watch list in his country.”

    yeah well not quite. I use a dial up conection whcih is why you get a different ip each time. You probably need to learn a few things about the internet. As for the rest i have no idea what kind of fantasy world you live in but ….. oh get out of the house more

  60. Senescent Wasp Says:

    conned, it was technically trivial for my collegues and I, network engineers all, to compare the time stamps on your messages to your usages. After that, it was rather easy to arrange for your ISP to disgorge your information to, maybe, Special Branch. I was not involved in that end having retired, yet again, to civil life. I’m sure that they adjudged you to be just a windbag with a computer and a nasty attitude.

    I know something about the Internet having been involved in it ever since ARPA (later DARPA)brought my campus up as the third site (right after Stanford and right before U of Utah) while I was in graduate school. Playing whack-a-mole with people such as yourself is something we do for fun on our own. Think of it as exercise; rather like deep breathing. After all ping and traceroute are low level tools even when combined with things like mapulator and visualroute. We have more sophisticated tools available but they are more invasive and are like smashing ants with a brick; a waste of time and energy. Besides, they are no-no’s for use off the reservation.

    Greetings from the beautiful Texas Hill Country where I’m about to take a sunset ride. What a pathetic little git you are. I wouldn’t urinate on you if your caught fire.

  61. TalkinKamel Says:

    ‘Conned, sounds like you’ve been nailed.

    And as for us getting out more—you’re the one who’se been wasting time playing around with dial-ups and ISP’s, not us.

    You’ve got waaaaay too much spare time on your hands.

  62. Wild Rice Says:

    Since Tet in 1968, the Viet Cong were no longer a force…“:

    More exactly it was the force that it was in 1962 or 1963. And there was no indication that that the GVN and the ARVN would perform any better than they did in 1963 and 1964. This was the basis for American thinking at the time.

    With respect to your claim that “the North was a separate nation” the Geneva Accords said otherwise.

  63. Huan Says:


    1. The VCs were a force created by NVN to de-ligitimize the government of the south.

    2. The Geneva accord in 1954 sought to clarify the status of French Indochina as independent from France after France’s defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. As part of the accord Indochine was partitioned into North and South, until election would determine whether it be unified or not.

    3. By the Geneva Accord of 1954 North and South Vietnam were separate nations through their ability to govern, levy taxes, print money, and wage international diplomacy.

  64. douglas Says:

    “I should not have to remind you that many units are on their second or third tour in Iraq. Maybe if you knew some people in the forces, or their families, and knew of the resulting hardships you would less insulting.”
    -Wild Rice

    Senator James Webb (D) Virginia, SOTU rebuttal:
    “I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years. This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home. When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. “

    That was during peacetime.

    Never mind that during WWII, ‘for the duration’ was the norm. I bet they would’ve killed for one year tours (not to minimize the sacrifices made by those in the field now- they have my most profound gratitude, something I suspect you know little of).

    “I really and extremely disgusted!”
    -Wild Rice

    I am disgusted at your attempt to use our troops to support your views. Not as disgusted as I am at the Democrats for not even applauding when President Bush called for victory in the SOTU address.

  65. douglas Says:

    oh- it’s also misleading to state “many units are on their second or third tour…”
    Very few individuals are on third tour, even fewer on fourth- and they tend to be higher ranked career military. Besides, they maintain continuity and a level of experience and cultural understanding that they can pass on to the first and even second tour troops in their units.

    but you like misleading, don’t you.

  66. Wild Rice Says:

    …partitioned into North and South, until election would determine whether it be unified or not.“:

    Which was meant to occur in July 1956. Diem refused to hold it because he knew that he would lose in a land slide.

    Contrary to what you assert the Geneva Accords did not create two nations. On the contrary it was quite clear that their was only one nation. What it did create was two “regrouping zones” pending reunification. Imaging our surprise when we found out that we were fighting for the Southern Regrouping Zone of Viet Nam. About 58000 Americans died for the Southern Regrouping Zone of Viet Nam. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were wounded, some critically and with permanent disabilities for the Southern Regrouping Zone of Viet Nam. And the number of Vietnamese who died for the Southern Regrouping Zone of Viet Nam was in the order of millions. I have no idea how many were wounded but it must have been a horrendous number.

  67. Saskboy Says:

    I agree with the locker room assessment of Bush. Why bother listening, since you can’t trust him to be honest. It’s better to get the choice quotes from Franken or Stewart who cut through the bull to the brutal meat of Bush’s “matter”.

  68. Ymar Says:

    Talkin, Conned still was reading my blog and troll-commenting on it. Course he has time on his hands.

  69. TalkinKamel Says:

    Yes, Ymar, Conned needs a hobby, or something.

    Wild Rice needs to study history. He also needs to get over his hero-worship of the Vietcong, and quit lecturing Huan about his own country.

  70. Huan Says:


    your post reveals it is a semantic argument you are advancing. the millions of south vietnamese did not believe they lived in a zone. they lived in a nation. and the million north vietnamese who abandoned the north for freedom in the south also did not believe they left one zone for another. finally, the million plus who fought for their respective side did not believe they were fighting for a zone but for a nation.

    The geneva accord left a divided Viet Nam, north and south.
    despite your semantics based on paper declarations, the situation on the ground and actual reality left two nations.

    it amuses me that your argument seems predicated on what you read or what is “declared” on paper with real life.

  71. Wild Rice Says:

    …the situation on the ground and actual reality left two nations.“:

    That was Diem’s, who was a dictator, doing. He unilaterally declared the southern zone to be a country. He was deposed and succeeded by a bizarre sequenced of junta governments. This was followed by an authoritarian police state run by Ky and Thieu.

    You claim that a “million plus who fought for their respective side did not believe they were fighting for a zone but for a nation”. But the evidence of my own eyes told me something quite different.

    I have said before that we “lost” Viet Nam some time in mid 1946. All that remained after that was to drag it out at great cost of lives. The truth is that the Republic of Viet Nam (south Viet Nam) was a cruel joke.

    But here’s the bottom line. Why do you claim the the Viet Nam war is lost? If you believe, as you claim, that the war is win able then it is not lost. You are free to continue the fight as long as you like. It is just a matter of action on your part.

  72. Huan Says:

    the evidence of my own eyes and ears, speaking with the north vietnamese who left north vietnam to fight for the south, and the south vietnamese who fought for the south, tells me otherwise.
    common sense would have told you the same, that people do not risk their lives in fight for a “zone”

    authoritarian police state? when your country is infiltrated by those sseeking to impose their way, a communist way, by use of force, you have to be able to respond appropriately. The US did the same in the Civil War. Lincoln was hailed as a dictator. Habeus corpus was suspended. What a cruel joke!

    why 1946? and who do you refer to with “we”?

    we did stay and fight for the years after US abandonment. but a third world country without support fighting against another third world country supported by a superpower cannot be expected to win. especially when promises of support were smoke and mirrors, leading to betrayal.

  73. TalkinKamel Says:

    WR were you ever in Vietnam? Did you fight there? Did you live there? Have you even studied it much, beyond some politically correct books in college, under a leftwing professor? If you did go, was it in a Jane Fonda way? To find out all the “evils” America was allgedly perpetrating over there?

    The war was lost because the communists were able to take over, and impose a Marxist dictatorship on the Vietnamese people. The war may have been winnable at one point; after we cut off the money it wasn’t. So Vietnam fell to the Communists, whose atrocities, by the way, I notice you never mention.

  74. Wild Rice Says:

    …the north vietnamese who left north vietnam…“:

    The majority of whom were Catholic and, as a consequence, were viewed by the majority of Vietnamese with suspicion and as colonialists. And they, in turn, seemed to regard the majority as sub-human. But, as you point out, they, and others did fight. This is why South Viet Nam was a cruel joke. At the very least they deserved good government and a competent military. They got neither.

    Leaving aside the details of US history I am talking of a lot more than a suspension of Habeas Corpus. Why is it that you think that American men should have been wasted to prop up such a regime?

    By “we” I’m referring to Americans, which is why I quoted “lost” – Viet Nam was never ours and we were wrong to regard as so.

    Rather than me relating large passages of US history as it related to Viet Nam I refer you to the Pentagon Papers.

    Abandonment? Promises? Betrayal? I think that there is something you should know. By 1974, if not before, the American people had spoken ™. And they said that it was over. You should have understood that at the time. In any case you understand it now.

    All this was well know to the GVN and ARVN at the time. They failed to adopt a strategy and tactics to suit. End of story.

  75. TalkinKamel Says:

    Why should Catholic Vietnamese be considered less “authentic” Vietnamese than all the rest? I’ve met some Vietnamese Catholics, and, trust me, they were definitely not Europeans, so why should they have been seen as “colonialists”? And what makes you say they saw other Vietnamese as “Subhuman”? That seems to me rather dubious. Were you there? Did you talk to all the many thousands of them, and did they all tell you, “Well, Mr./Ms. Wild Rice, I believe all the non-Catholic Vietnamese are subhumans!”

    It sounds to me like you’re just spouting Communist propaganda. The Communists don’t approve of religion, especially the Judeo-Christian variety, so, of course, it was in their interests to demonize the Christian Vietnamese people (Not that they were crazy about Buddhists, or the Hmong animists, either; And, even if Catholics were a minority, didn’t they still have a right to worship as they pleased, and to have some say in the government?). Portraying them all as bigoted “colonialists” and corrupt bigots sounds like VC propaganda; a Catholic Vietnamese has the same racial make-up as a Buddhist/Animist/whatever/ Vietnamese. He isn’t a Frenchman in disguise. If such a person thought Vietnamese with different beliefs were subhumans, he’d have to believe he was subhuman too.

    Huan’s pulled the cover, so to speak, on the glorious people’s republic, where all the Vietnamese supposedly lived happily ever after (once all those bad Catholics colonialists were gone)—exfept, of course, they really didn’t.

    The American people wanted out of Vietnam because the Media convinced them it was an evil, unwinnable war (even after Tet), and the 60’s peace protestors had swallowed a great deal of Marxism whole, including propaganda about the evil, corrupt Catholics, and media outlets, such as Life Magazine, glorified the anti-war movement, giving it a moral legitimacy it really didn’t deserve.

    I’m waiting for you to talk about what happened in Vietnam after the Communists took over.

  76. Huan Says:


    most of the north vietnamese who left the north in the 1950s were not catholic. you would have to understand the culture and clearly you do not. read the history of vietnam prior to the 1950s.

    there was no animosity between vietnamese catholics and non catholics. intermarriages between them were rather common. this may have been the first time that the sectarian conflict what has been imposed on the vietnam war. i guess since the comparison between the two are so en vogue that some has actually bought it hook and sinker. amusing.

    true that the south vietnamese deserve a better government and military. i would say the same for the US a that time. when blacks were treated as third class citizens, denied their constitutional right to vote, and were lynched on a regular basis. but it sadens me to see your cold uncarring hubris, to suggest that millions, because their government and military did not meet your standard, would be better off oppressed, tortured, and abused under an authoritarian communism. such compassion and adherence to purity! in case you haven’t heard, the enemy of good is perfect. that is the difference between being practical and living in fantasy land. this is what TalkinKamel wants you to respond to as well, the cost to the vietnamese of being less than what you thought they ought to be, having a government and military less than what they deserved.

    We? vietnam was never yours. south vietnam was never yours. for a brief time the US helped the people of vietnam stave off communism, until political expediency led the US to betray them.

    the american people do not conduct international diplomacy. as a matter of fact it is illegal for a private citizen to do so. constitutionally the president of the US, acting on behalf of the nation, conduct international diplomacy. with regard to vietnam, to negotiate away a nation’s territorial integrity is abandonment. and to promise aid when attack and to renege is betrayal. it is an even more poor leader to act based on opinion poll.

    with regard to strategy and tactic, you apparently do not know the difference between the two. wars cannot be won without resources. as i have attempted to explain to you before, a third world country cannot win against a superpower bankrolling and arming your opponent without similar support.

    i recommend you read what general Giap had to say about how he forced US withdrawal while losing the war on the ground. your ignorance of how the US media, and thus the american public, was manipulated into defeat is astounding. coupled with hubris only adds tragedy to ignorance.

    i hope your name is not Dana Rice.

  77. Wild Rice Says:

    most of the north vietnamese who left the north in the 1950s were not catholic.“:

    I am reflecting the US government view. If you dispute this take it up with the government.

    Wrt the animosity I saw something quite different. But, again, this was the view of the US government.

    I do agree that the Big Minh and succeeding administrations did try and address this problem but it remained to a large degree.

    “vietnam was never yours. south vietnam was never yours.”: I agree. That is what I said. Yet a large number of Americans died and where wounded in order, supposedly, to make South Viet Nam fit for the South Vietnamese.

    There you go again. Promises. Betrayal. There were no promises made and no betrayal. Further the US signed a treaty with the DRV. That treaty did not and could not change the borders of the “sovereign” South Viet Nam. And, as I have said before, South Viet Nam was not sovereign. It was a re organization zone.

    It is quite simple. If the US was not up to your needs the “sovereign” GVN was at liberty to ally itself with any other country it cared to. For instance, in 1974, instead of squealing about the US it could have looked for other options.

    Or it could have held the elections that where meant to have been held in 1956. The ICC was still in existence in 1974.

    We Americans like to think that the people are sovereign. And we like to think that when we tell our representatives to do something they do it. It does not always work that way of course. But in 1974 we told our representatives that we were staying out of Viet Nam and so it was.

    Again you failed to adopt an appropriate strategy and tactics. As you point out it is fatal to attempt a strategy for which there insufficient logistical support. It follows that logistics determine the set of available strategies. We cut our cloth to our means.

    …”how he forced US withdrawal while losing the war on the ground.”: When did he say that?

    Lets assume for a minute that he did say that and that the American people are so gullible. In that case the same strategy was available to South Viet Nam. However, you were unable come up with the goods. Bit late complaining about it now.

  78. TalkinKamel Says:

    Don’t presume to talk for “we” Americans, Rice; some of us think we ought to have stayed in Vietnam, and that the Vietnamese were betrayed into the hands of a despotic, Communist tyranny (whose atrocities I notice, you still won’t address.)

    And to sneer at Huan and tell him, “Bit late complaining about it now” is contemptible. Oh yeah, bit late complaining about the fall of Saigon, the re-education camps, the thousands killed by the Communists, the thousands more who died at sea when they had to flee. All water under the bridge, right old chap?


  79. TalkinKamel Says:

    Huan’s right about your cold, uncaring hubris. You’re just mad we don’t all buckle under to the modern myth, that the Communists were the saviors of Vietnam.

  80. Huan Says:


    the more you post, the more you reveal your superficial understanding of the vietnam war, as well the inability to grasp reality vs fantasy.

    conceptually south vietnam could have allied with anyone instead of the US. but reality suggests otherwise, that in a bi-polar world of USs-West vs Sino-Soviet spheres, there was no other choice.

    and thus when you are attacked by a proxy of one superpower, without equivalent logistic support, there is only so much tactical adjustment you can make. when all you have is to bring a knife to a gun fight, you are likely to lose. duh!

    with regard to your claims that the north vietnamese leaving the north for the south were predominantly catholic, i challenge you to post the source, or text from the source with links. having been part of it, your assertion just reek of ignorance and weasel argument constructs.

    but as you are so fond of government souces, read what promises were offered by Nixon to the South Vietnamese government.

    yes, a large number of americans did die and were wounded in viet nam. (the south vietnamese lost four times more). certainly it was in vain, as the US lost the war. unlike say the thousands who died in western europe or korea, who stood and won and left millions free.

    but yes, it is a bit late now for South Vietnam, and the hundreds of thousands who died because of the US’ abandonment and betrayal. but you are a fool to think that it left the US unscathed. After the Vietnam war, the US was viewed by all as a paper tiger, weak and cowardly without resolve to win. and subsequently this led to attacks against US interests by everyone with an axe to grind against the US, including the latest from Bin Laden. it never helps to build a reputation as an unreliable friend and ally.

    but apparently you are incapable of learning from mistake, rather sticking with cold hubris, as you and your ilk are about to repeat the same mistake, abandoning the millions of iraqi to islamofascism and emboldening others to act against the US.

    doesn’t matter how many suffers, as long as their skin is different, as long as they don’t meet your desired standards, as long as it is not in the news.

    there is no shame to being ignorant, but it is shameful to cling to blind ignorance and let other suffer instead of you.

  81. Wild Rice Says:

    conceptually south vietnam could have allied with anyone instead of the US“:

    Well there you have it. The only ally available to you did not meet your requirements and high standards. In that situation I would think that it would be very foolish for a country to pursue the strategy that South Viet Nam did during 1973 and 1974. In my view such a country should try and hold the elections required by both the 1954 Geneva Accords and the 1973 Paris Peace Accords as soon as possible. In fact, that particular course of action was available to the South at any time after 1954.

    My perception regarding the Catholic majority of refugees from the north comes from US Government appreciations of the time. These are not available to me now (and, in any case, are very unlikely to be online). However, consider this paragraph from the “Pentagon Papers”:

    Thirdly, the predominantly Catholic Tonkinese refugees provided Diem with a claque: a politically malleable, culturally distinct group, wholly distrustful of Ho Chi Minh and the DRV, dependent for subsistence on Diem’s government, and attracted to Diem as a co-religionist. Under Diem’s mandarinal regime, they were less important as dependable votes than as a source of reliable political and military cadres. Most were kept unassimilated in their own communities, and became prime subjects for Diem’s experiments with strategic population relocation. One heritage of Geneva is the present dominance of South Vietnam’s government and army by northerners. The refugees catalyzed Diem’s domestic political rigidity, his high-handedness with the U.S., and his unyielding rejection of the DRV and the Geneva Accords.

    I do not know just how accurate this appreciation is but it was, and is, the US government’s understanding.

    I do not know what President Nixon promised. However, I refer you to the US Constitution. If you read that document you will understand that appropriations are made only by the US Congress. If President Nixon promised money to the GVN he was, in effect, committing a fraud against the GVN. I point this out to you so that if, some time in the future, you are approached by a shady character in a dark alley offering you billions of US tax payers dollars you will not be taken in again. Beyond that the only solution is for you to try and collect the promised moneys from the late President Nixon’s estate.

    We did not “win” in Korea. The present DMZ is where the original demarcation line was. As an aside, I should note that our experience in Korea was a large factor in our thinking regarding Viet Nam.

    In the years 1973 through to 1975 I can only speak of European and Middle Eastern attitudes, in the context of Viet Nam, to the US. Contrary to you assertions that the US was “viewed by all as a paper tiger” there was great relief. The view there was that we had finally come to

  82. stumbley Says:

    “there is no shame to being ignorant”

    On the contrary, Huan, there is great shame in being as willfully ignorant as WR is. There are a great many sources which totally contradict his totally false view of the war; when faced with them, he steadfastly refuses to consider that he might be wrong. It is shameful, deceitful, and pathetic. It’s also pathetic to ignore millions of deaths from a failed ideology and to continue to profess that that ideology is “progressive” in any way. He is worse than a “useful idiot”, he’s either a real idiot, or actively working against humanity. Either way, the world would be better off without his ilk.

  83. Wild Rice Says:

    In the years 1973 through to 1975 I can only speak of European and Middle Eastern attitudes, in the context of Viet Nam, to the US. Contrary to you assertions that the US was “viewed by all as a paper tiger” there was great relief. The view there was that we had finally come to our senses.

    In the interval from 1946 to 1990 the US was engaged in a cold war. The national interest of the US was best served by winning that war. Our leaving Viet Nam contributed to that win.

    I am mystified by your assertion that a “win” in Viet Nam would have deterred bin Laden in any way.

    We are now involved in a “war on terror”. Whether you agree with that characterization or not it is the policy of the US government. And, in that context, the invasion if Iraq is a strategic disaster. We must get out as soon as possible.

    If the main export of the Gulf states is oil. This means that, from the geopolitical point of view, our intervention in Iraq will be far more expensive than our intervention in Viet Nam.

  84. Huan Says:

    1. had south vietnam knew that the US would be a fickle ally, certainly we would not have allied with the US. but by the 1970s it was too late. our weapons required US ammos, our tanks and planes required US parts. and since the north did not have this problem, the south had no chance once the US denied us these necessary support.

    2. but had the south forseen the betrayal that would come, who could we have allied with that could have provided the necessary support to that given by the chinese and the soviets? isn’t this then nothing more than an abstract possibility without credible probability?

    3. in 1956, with the support of the Americans, fearing a communist victory, election was not held in the south, and the legitimacy of any election in the north could not be determined. subsequently, the partition of vietnam into two became defacto. as the result, migration of thousands occurred and this was facilitated by both sides. the french were determined to move as much of their supporters south as possible, most of these were catholics. however, this does not mean that the majority of the 500,000+ who moved southward were catholics.

    4. in Jan 1973, the Paris Peace accord was signed. Nixon promised the US would retaliate if the north broke the agreement, which they shortly did. promised US air support did not come. it was not until Dec 1974 that congress voted against funding to south vietnam. this was vetoed. the veto was over ridden and funding ceased in August of 1974. but this did not forbid military assistance.

    5. South Korea is a win. it is a prosperous and free nation. this is fact on the ground. While a state of war does exist with the north, there has been no military clashes for years. but it was not a total win because the north remain communist.

    6. it hardly matter what the western europeans thought of the US. they were allies to the US. it did matter to those who opposed the US, and the weakness of the US as demonstrated by withdrawal and betrayal in Vietnam. read up on how the enemies of the US responded, they are the ones most likely to act against the paper tiger, not the western europeans. Bin Laden numerous statements have encouraged attacks against the US, as the US lacks resolve for casualty and susceptible to media manipulation, a lesson he learned from the vietnam war.

    7. after the US withdrew from vietnam, war spread. the communist vietnam effectively took control of south vietnam, laos, and cambodia. similarly, a withdrawal of the US from iraq will embolden iran to take over at least iraq and control an even larger portion of the world oil. from a “geopolitical point of view, our withdrawal from Iraq will be far more expensive than our withdrawal from viet nam.

  85. neo-neocon Says:

    Huan, just one point–

    In your #4 above, you write that the funding cutoff didn’t forbid military assistance. You are correct, but actually military assistance had already been forbidden by other acts of Congress.

    Here’s a timeline of the Vietnam War. You’ll note the following two items, both occurring before the funding cut:

    June 19, 1973 – The U.S. Congress passes the Case-Church Amendment which forbids any further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, effective August 15, 1973. The veto-proof vote is 278-124 in the House and 64-26 in the Senate. The Amendment paves the way for North Vietnam to wage yet another invasion of the South, this time without fear of U.S. bombing.

    December 13, 1974 – North Vietnam violates the Paris peace treaty and tests President Ford’s resolve by attacking Phuoc Long Province in South Vietnam. President Ford responds with diplomatic protests but no military force in compliance with the Congressional ban on all U.S. military activity in Southeast Asia.

    Congress had tied our hands. They would like to do it again, I’m afraid.

  86. Huan Says:

    the Case-Church Amendment was passed by congress a few months after the US signed the Paris peace accord, and accord that the US promised military aid should the north vietnamese violated the treaty.

  87. Wild Rice Says:

    our weapons required US ammos, our tanks and planes required US parts.“:

    But, of course, your new ally would replace weapons and systems as required. I see no problem. I think you are making this up as you go along.

    Look it is quite simple. Your points (1) and (2) suggest that South Viet Nam’s best strategy was to get the elections going ASAP. I’m talking about elections in March or April of 1973.

    Here is what really happened. In January 1973 the US and the DRV sign the Paris Peace Accords. These accords were basically a restatement of the original 1954 Geneva Accords, to which they refer to a number of times. The Paris Peace Accords reiterated that Viet Nam is one country indivisible. The Accords required reunification through election. The GVN consistently refused to hold elections. At one point Thieu announced that there would be no reunification and that the war would continue. Eventually the PRV walked out and the North reunified the country by other means.

    Having signed the Peace Accords the American people had expected the Viet Nam would have been reunified by 1975. They were not prepared to support a war. The GVN failed to understand that.

    As to President Nixon’s promises what can I say. I can only refer you again to the US Constitution. You must have missed the part which details the method by which treaties are enacted in the US. Basically what happens is the administration negotiates a treaty with a foreign power and then presents the result to the US Senate for approval. Nixon’s administration did not negotiate a defense treaty with South Viet Nam. So he was promising something he could not deliver. As with the money promises he was scamming the GVN. They didn’t call him ‘Tricky Dicky’ for nothing.

    There were no promises other than the terms of the Paris Peace Accords. The was no betrayal. We did not, and do not, owe South Viet Nam any more than any other entity. The South had received more than it was entitled to by 1975.

    Wrt our geopolitical position regarding Iraq the damage occurred when we invaded.The main beneficiaries of our invasion are Iran and Al Quaeda (bin Laden predicted many years ago that we would invade an Arab oil producer). To put this another way President Bush has acted not in the national interests of the US but in the national interests of Iran. We may be able limit the damage but we cannot wind back the clock.

  88. Wild Rice Says:

    The Amendment paves the way for North Vietnam to wage yet another invasion of the South, this time without fear of U.S. bombing“:

    The expectation was that the elections would have occurred before August 1973. That is ‘North Viet Nam’ and ‘South Viet Nam’ would have ceased to exist. The elections, having occurred, would have made it impossible for the North to invade the South. It was the GVN that refused to hold elections.

  89. Huan Says:

    1. don’t you know the differences among possible, probable, and practical? i’ll simplify it for you. what other nation should south vietnam allied with instead of the US to fight off north vietnam – china – soviet union? all you talk off are theoretical without any real world practicality.

    2. since you are so much in love with treaties and declaration, holding them up to replace the reality on the ground, answer this. given the paris peace accord intended for a political solution, what was the timeline for this political solution to occur? and when did north viet nam, aided by china and the soviet union, initiated military action in violation of the accord? and what were the provisions offered to the south vietnamese for them to sign the accord?

    3. i am curious where you get the August 1973 date from as this was not in the text of the Paris peace accord.

    4. and what to make of the provision within the paris peace accord regarding the rights of south vietnamese for self determination?

    5. the paris peace accord was signed with the unstated understanding that the north would invade, and the south will fall without US support. reassurances were given and reneged upon. the paris peace accord gave the US a ticket out, like the treaty waved by chamberlain. you do realize that the original geneva conference was signed 20 years previously to do the same for France.

    6. both essentially declared that western powers (initially France and later the US) cannot dictate the integrity of vietnam, and it was up to the vietnamese to do so. the north wanted one vietnam under their rule, the south wanted no part of that and preferred a separate state. the south’s desire for freedom existed prior to US intervention. communism is anathema to the traditional vietnamese way of life.

    7. it is in the national interest of the US to have a free and democratic iraq in the heart of the middle east. it is not in the national interest of iran to have such an iraq. it has done all it can to destabilize iraq. to withdraw would facilitate an iranian victory.

  90. Wild Rice Says:

    don’t you know the differences among possible, probable, and practical?“:

    I understand the situation that South Viet Nam was in in January 1973. The question is did the GVN?

    It is my conclusion that that there were no other allies available to the South. This is why I said that “I would think that it would be very foolish for a country to pursue the strategy that South Viet Nam did during 1973 and 1974.

    Wrt your point (2) it was in the interests of the South that political solution occur ASAP.

    Wrt your point (3) the August date was the expectation of the American people. We were not prepared to wait forever. The GVN failed to understand that.

    Wrt your point (4): elections in the South.

    Wrt your point (5) “reassurances” given by whom? When. Were they legal?

    Wrt your point (6) from the Paris Peace Accords:

    Article 15

    The reunification of Viet-Nam shall be carried out step by step through peaceful means on the basis of discussions and agreements between North and South Viet-Nam, without coercion or annexation by either party, and without foreign interference.

    The expectation of the American people was that reunification would occur ASAP. This was also in the interests of the South. As you have stated the South refused. In that regard you were on your own. The only mystery is why you believed that that US was going to pay for your actions or intervene militarily.

    Wrt your point (7): then make it happen (if you can). I should point out that if the support of the American people is required to achieve your goal then it is the responsibility of the Neocon’s to muster that support. It is not the responsibility of the American people to support any particular policy or party.

  91. huan Says:

    1. you now say that it was foolish for the south vietnam to rely on the US in 1973 as they did was foolish. so then when the US left vietnam, the US abandoned south vietnam to the north, who was bent on military conquest? (it also amuses me that while your criticism comes easily, some empathy is required to come up with a practical solution, which you have none) but yes, retrospectively, had the south vietnamese anticipated the betrayal that was about to come from the US in 1973, they would never have allied with the US at all.

    2. it was in the interest of south vietnamese to remain free of communist oppression for as long as possible.

    3. the august date was not a part of the paris accord. the paris accord actually stipulated that foreign powers do not interfere with the south vietnamese right to self determination. this could be interpreted as a violation of the paris accord. again i ask where you got this date.

    4. per the paris peace accord, Chapter V, Article 15 (the one you quoted actually), there was no mention of election.

    5. reassurances given by representatives of the United States, of the branch constitutionally given the power to conduct international diplomacy.

    6. the south did not refuse to negotiate with the north, the same north with approximately 100,000 hostile troops threatening the south from within. funny that the paris peace accord stipulated that political negotiation be free of coercion.

    7. we are not talking about what the american people support, we are talking about the pros and cons of particular stragegies with regard to iraq.

  92. Wild Rice Says:

    you now say that it was foolish for the south vietnam to rely on the US in 1973 as they did was foolish. so then when the US left vietnam…“:

    You really do have a hard time connecting the dots, don’t you. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords the war was over for the US. There was no chance of the US intervening in Viet Nam. End of story. It was over. That is it.

    Wrt your (2) you achieved that. You can have no complaints.

    Wrt your (3) August is a date of an Act of the US. The war was over in January.

    Wrt your (4) read the document.

    Wrt your (5) rubbish. Read the US Constitution.

    Wrt your (6) rubbish.

    Wrt your (7) policy in Iraq (or anywhere else) requires the support of the American people. Any misunderstanding about this will just result in tragedy. (We are a democracy after all.)

    Wrt to Iraq the Neocons have had their chance and have blown it. You have failed to carry the majority. Its over.

  93. Huan Says:

    1. i get it quite well, that with the paris peace accord the US was signed its own permission slip to walk out on her ally south vietnam.

    2. the complaints was simply the US was an unreliable ally. she was.

    3. there was no such date set. read the paris peace accord.

    4. there was no expectation for election in the paris peace accord. read it again.

    5. the US constitution gives the power to the executive branch as head of state to conduct international diplomacy. you should read this document as well.

    6. and also add to your reading list of how the north waged war against the south, almost immediately after signing the paris peace accord. almost immediately meaning within 60 days for the US to withdraw, as stipulated by the paris peace accord.

    7. if the US population does not continue to support freedom for the iraqi, the US will lose in the long run as well. just like after vietnam.
    yes, democracy can choose to lose.

    8. i am rather disappointed that for someone who seems to rely so heavily on documents to represent reality that you haven’t even read it, at least with regard to the paris peace accord of 1973. but perhaps you just want documents to legitimize the poor behavior of the US as an ally.

  94. Wild Rice Says:

    …walk out on her ally south vietnam.“:

    The war was over. Not point in hanging around. Further there has never been a defense treaty between the US and South Viet Nam. Your use of the adjective ‘ally’ is inappropriate.

    Wrt your (2) the “interest of south vietnamese to remain free of communist oppression for as long as possible” was achieved. Congratulations.

    Wrt your (3) I have never said August had any thing to do with with the Paris Peace Accords. However we did have a reasonable expectation that the elections required by the Paris Peace Accords would have been held before August.

    Wrt your (4) Article 9(b)

    Wrt your (5) treaties are ratified only by the Senate. Appropriations are maid only by Congress.

    Wrt your (6): Rubbish

    Wrt your (7) the Soviet Union no longer exists.

  95. Huan Says:

    1. a state of alliance was in effect, at least up until 1973. this is manifested through both military aids and economic aids, not to mention the presence of US troops. your penchant for relaity as defined by treaties continues to amuses me, as much as your declaration that a nation does not exist without a treaty to recognize it, despite its ability to maintain its border, print money, wage international diplomacy, etc.

    2. congratulation indeed that the US sold out an ally to save its own skin. something to boast and be proud of for generations still.

    3 now you are shifting away from august as a deadline within the paris peace accord to “reasonable expectation.” upon what facts and criteria did this become reasonable expectations?

    4. no, the paris peace accord only stipulated negotiation, not an election. no timeline was given. read it again.

    5. treaties are negotiated by the executive branch and approved by congress. the conduct of international diplomacy is thus conducted by the execyutive branch and later presented to the senate for approval. the senate does not in itself conduct international diplomacy.

    6. rubbish indeed your refusal to pursue information that would prove you wrong.

    7. russia exists, china exists, and currently in iraq, iran exist, even though iran technically is not recognized by the US.

  96. Wild Rice Says:

    …as much as your declaration that a nation does not exist without a treaty to recognize it…“:

    I have not said that. In fact the US did recognize South Viet Nam. We had an embassy in Saigon. However, there was no defense treaty between the US and South Viet Nam. In the event that South Viet Nam was attacked we were not obliged to defend it.

    The US recognizes many countries around the world. However we have defense treaties with only a sub set of those countries.

    Wrt your (2) there was no treaty. You are deluding yourself when you use the term ‘ally’.

    Wrt your (3) what August deadline? There was no August deadline. I have never said that there was. A bill was passed in August and became the law of the US. Had it passed on some other date it would have made no difference to South Viet Nam at all. Neither would it have impacted upon the Paris Peace Accords.

    You’re making this up as you go along, aren’t you.

    Wrt your (4) given the situation that South Viet Nam was in (you have already conceded that the South had no options regarding alternative military support etc) it was in their interests that they hold the elections specified in the Accords ASAP. They did not. They must suffer the consequences. I’m not sure how often I must repeat this.

    Wrt your (5): What is your point?

    Wrt your (6): What information. You have provided none. You simply provided an assertion which I have perused.

    Wrt your (7) we achieved our goals wrt the Soviet Union.

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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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