August 23rd, 2007

Whose Vietnam analogy is it, anyway?

Bush’s speech yesterday seems to have spawned a further opening of that wound that’s never really closed, the Vietnam War.

Bush’s critics are incensed: after all, Iraq/Vietnam is their analogy, always good for a negative spin on what we’re doing now in Iraq. How dare Bush—who, it goes without saying, is as ignorant of history as he is of everything else save Machiavellian grabs for power—how dare he co-opt it in the service of the surge and the continuing US presence in Iraq?

Today’s Real Clear Politics has a good example of the dueling Vietnam narratives of Left and Right. There are links there to two articles, one above the other, the first entitled “Bush’s Vietnam Analogy Fails History’s Test” (by Matt Yglesias, appearing in the Guardian), and the second “The President Has His History Right” (by Peter Rodman, appearing in National Review Online).

Take a look; read them both. These two are just a small sample of what’s available, but let me know which you think has the better argument and knowledge re Vietnam and history. I know what I think.

Then read the actual text of Bush’s speech, not provided by most newspapers reporting on it. You’ll find that he concedes the complexity of the history of the Vietnam War, stating that it “is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech….Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left.”

In his speech, Bush limits himself to one part of the history of the Vietnam War: the aftermath of our withdrawal. In this, of course, he is limiting himself to the part most favorable for his purposes; no surprise there.

But it is also the part of that war’s history particularly relevant at this juncture, because we are facing, once again, a Congress with many members poised to push for a withdrawal that will have grave consequences—probably even graver than those of Vietnam (the latter of which I’ve written about at length, for example, here).

What does Bush actually say about that withdrawal? This:

Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like “boat people,” “re-education camps,” and “killing fields.”

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle — those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that “the American people had risen against their government’s war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today.”

In my previous effort on this subject, I wrote at length of the ways the Left manages to avoid, minimize, or blame others for the consequences of the Vietnam withdrawal it was so instrumental in helping to bring about. Bush’s words touched an especially raw nerve on the Left, especially sensitive to mention of the boat people and the Vietnam aftermath

Yglesias seems to fancy himself a stickler for historical accuracy, calling Bush’s words a “shocking embrace of a historically illiterate account of the Vietnam war.” But how “historically literate” is Yglesias himself?

Quoting Bush’s sentence about the boat people, Ygelsias adds this:

While it is of course true that people died in South Vietnam following American withdrawal, millions died during the United States’ years of military involvement as well, a great many killed by the American military at enormous expense and with no end in sight.

Yglesias concedes that some unspecified number of people died following the US withdrawal, although he doesn’t say who they were, or how they died, or why. An odd omission; does it not matter? This is quickly followed by the assertion that “millions died” (now we are getting actual numbers, and they are large) during the US presence there, “a great many” killed by the American military “with no end in sight.”

Notice that Ygelsias does not say how many of those millions who died while the US was fighting in Vietnam were actually killed by the American military. Nor, again, do we know who they were and why they may have been killed. He focuses instead on the millions who died while the US was there.

But what does that mean? It’s as though someone attributed all the deaths in World War II to America—after all, we were part of the action, and “millions died,” all right. It’s an interesting assumption that we are free to ascribe all deaths in a war to whatever side we choose, for whatever reason we want, merely by that side’s presence in a war.

Aside from those “millions,” what about those “many” deaths that Yglesias asserts were of people actually killed by Americans, “at enormous expense and with no end in sight?” Is Yglesias aware that, by the time the withdrawal from South Vietnam happened, there had been no American fighting forces in Vietnam for two years? The last of our active military had left in March of 1973, after years of the stepped-down withdrawal that was part of Nixon’s Vietnamization. Far from there being “no end in sight” at this point—at least for Americans killing people in the war—the end had quite definitely already occurred.

By the time of the final US withdrawal of support from the South Vietnamese, the “enormous expense” of the war was limited to a financial one for the US, and it was that monetary support that Congress withdrew from the South Vietnamese struggling to stave off the Northern invasion and the Communist takeover. And it was that Communist takeover, a direct result of our financial abandonment of the South, that led inexorably to the boat people and the re-education camps.

Whether the South Vietnamese cause was doomed, and therefore already a lost one even before the US ended the funding, is one of those “up for debate” arguments. Rodman, however, writes that:

Military historians seem to be converging on a consensus that by the end of 1972, the balance of forces in Vietnam had improved considerably, increasing the prospects for South Vietnam’s survival. That balance of forces was reflected in the Paris Agreement of January 1973, and the (Democratic) Congress then proceeded to pull the props out from under that balance of forces over the next 2 ½ years — abandoning all of Indochina to a bloodbath. This is now a widely accepted narrative of the endgame in Vietnam, and it has haunted the Democrats for a generation.

Back to Yglesias’s argument: so, what of all those millions of Vietnamese deaths occurring while the Americans were present there? Tracking numbers and assigning blame is a difficult task, especially determining who’s doing the reporting, what their agenda might be, and how they arrived at their figures. Other important questions include who those dead are, at whose hands did they die, and why?

Yglesias provides a link to a site that provides a link to this list of casualties in Vietnam during the years of American involvement. Note how much the estimated numbers of deaths vary, depending on the sources (and, no doubt, their agenda). This variation in estimates of the dead is not at all unusual with wars.

So, knowing that these are estimates only, that they may be biased, and that we have no way of knowing the true figures, I’ll just use the median figures, the ones I assume Yglesias is relying on, and try to assign responsibility.

The first group of deaths, that of South Vietnamese military members, is 224,000. Although these deaths occurred during the US presence there, it would be hard (although not impossible) for even the most rabid Leftist to say that the Americans killed them.

The next group of deaths is of North Vietnamese military and the Vietcong, and the estimate of the number of deaths during the America years is 660,000. Some of these were no doubt killed by the South Vietnamese and some by US forces, and although there’s no breakdown of which is which, we can safely say that the vast majority of these deaths were of the enemy.

That’s what war involves—killing the enemy, who in this case were no angels, despite romantic Leftist rhetoric (see for example, lower down on the page, a reference to “36,725 civilians assassinated by VC/NVA, 1957-72,” and many of the other estimates there under “Misc. Atrocities” of the horrors the North and the VC spawned during the war).

But because of the nature of the Vietcong and the difficulty at times of determining who they were, it’s a legitimate question to ask how many of the reported Vietcong deaths were actually of non-VC—i.e. innocent—civilians? That is not only difficult to estimate, it is virtually impossible, and subject to extreme bias, as the site acknowledges. So it remains profoundly unknown.

Then there’s “South Vietnamese civilians,” estimated at 300,000 during the American presence. Although there’s no doubt that at least some portion of those were at the hands of Americans, we can assume the vast majority were killed by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong.

Lastly, we have North Vietnamese civilians killed in American air strikes. And here, finally, we have what is probably the civilian death toll that can unequivocally be laid at the feet of the Americans. The figure appears to be somewhere in the fifty thousands.

So, to compare, how many died in the “re-education camps” so kindly set up by the North Vietnamese victors, or on the journeys made by the fleeing “boat people?” Hard to estimate, as well, and subject to agenda-driven errors I’m sure, but here’s one attempt that puts the figure for the former at one million imprisoned and 165,000 killed, and here’s another site estimating the latter at up to 250,000 dead.

We can never know for sure. In addition, evaluating whether a war is just or unjust, and which side is more at fault, is not simply a matter of counting up the dead and comparing who lost more people.

But if those who favor our withdrawal from Iraq want to defend our withdrawal from Vietnam by arguing death figures and history, at least do it in a way that makes sense. It makes absolutely none—except in terms of sophistry and rhetorical effect—to lump all Vietnam War deaths together and ascribe them to the US. “Historical literacy” would demand otherwise.

[NOTE: In a subsequent post, I plan to deal with another question debated by Yglesias, Rodman, and others as a result of Bush's speech: who bears responsibility for the killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia?]

30 Responses to “Whose Vietnam analogy is it, anyway?”

  1. mark h Says:

    Good job of presenting you POV without going over the top.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    I second what mark h said above: nicely done.

    This is a touchy, touchy, touchy area – yet it cries out for exploration: for the sake of our honored dead and wounded; and for the sake of our national political sanity as we move forward and make choices in the future.

    If all of us did not value life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness so dearly, then we would not bring such strong feelings into the Vietnam discussion. Certainly, some bring less noble motivations into the discussion also(not me, of course!). Yet, a genuine concern for the welfare of all peoples is always lurking. It is a starting place – a place of common ground – from which to begin actual discussions of an important national subject.

  3. Vietnam, without irony… at Amused Cynic Says:

    [...] provides a more serious analysis of the “whose Vietnam analogy is it, anyway?” issue here.  The best new history of the conflict is Mark Moyar’s Triumph Forsaken;  The best old [...]

  4. Matthew M Says:

    Thanks for another remarkably edifying essay. I was hoping you would eventually write a book about your political metamorphosis, but now I think Vietnam should be the subject of your first tome.

    Your psychology-influenced approach of separating fact from fantasy and identifying decisions and their consequences has provided an extremely efficient way to grasp the specific details and broad themes of American involvement in Vietnam.

    If you chronicled the left-right arguments and their consequences, you could supply a rare analysis of the war. I certainly feel a need for book comaring competing “narratives” to reality, identified as comprehensively and objectively as possible–while realizing omniscience is neither possible to achieve nor necessary for arriving at the truth.

  5. Ymarsakar Says:

    I wasn’t at the inner circle briefings when they discussed how many they needed to kill, torture, intimidate, and re-educate. So I can’t say, all I can say is that regardless of however many needed to be killed, many more died than were necessary.

  6. Patrick Bryant Says:

    I hink you’re wrong there, Ymarskar. For the Communists, there was never enough killing, trortue, intimidation, and re-education, as long as any little bit more made the leadership feel safer.

  7. Doug L Says:

    As one who was brought up liberal and turned nineteen shortly after the draft ended, I can tell you how I felt at the time. Every one of those deaths was the fault of America. We were continuing our racially genocidal past. We took over the colonial role of the French. We were interfering in a less technologically advanced society.

    You see the answer is taught well on the TV show “Star Trek”. They had the “Prime Directive”. It was the death penalty if you interfered with a society that did not have warp drive and phasers etc. It was explained clearly that the consequences of interfering with these societies could lead to disastrous consequences. It was a lesson anyone would know from history.

    This Prime directive just had to be an anti war thing, it just had to be, and it paralleled just what we were told by our elders. There was no doubt about this.

    This comment is not a joke, it is a fact, that was the way it was.

  8. DonkeyKong Says:

    Oh Neo, here is a homework assignment for you and your “students.”

    After the North launched an invasion of the South, how hard did ARVN troops fight. The fact is they removed their uniforms and ran. They could’nt hold onto the country for more than 4 months. Not long enough for you to lay the defeat at the doorstep of your strawman “The Left” (sound of pounding kettle drums!)

    ARVN soldiers left vehicles, ammo dumps, artillary parks and all the equipment we gave them as we withdrew (we were transitioning to a new generation of military equipment across all services.)

    If the South had fought back and held on for a year, you would have a point. Funding of the Souths military might, at that point, have needed more equipment.

    But fight they did’nt.

    Go ahead and research the “bravery” of the ARVN forces. Aside from the 18th Division at Xuan Loc, it was a roll over.

    And please don’t start with the old canard that the North was being supplied with equipment from China and the Soviet Union, they were not.

    If you think (imagine) they were, then you would have to explain how Nixon would open up China and the Soviet Union while selling out South Vietnam. Nixon did many things, just not that.

    The fact is our presence in Vietnam, our occupation and our military fighting battles the South would not or could not fight sealed the Souths fate.

    The part about Vietnam you get most wrong (Left or Right dear, you’re a baby boomer narcissist) is that the people of South Vietnam and their relation to the war, their government and their cause is what truly mattered, not American opinion. US forces in Vietnam topped out at 540,000, a year and a half after Tet.

    During Tet, had ARVN engaged the Vietcong and defeated them with our help, then Tet would have truly been a victory for the South (and as such, for us.)

    Apples and apple example.

    During our own struggle for independence, we received help from the French(yes, the French.) In fact they trained much of our army, supplied us with ordinance and provided us with a navy(we did’nt have one.)

    What if the French had to step in during critical battles at Saratoga, Cowpens, and Yorktown to beat the British. How would american’s have felt about joining a cause that was being fought for them by an occupying power. Would they have joined? Could we call our country our own if the French had beat the British for us?

    We were not fighting for freedom, that came later. In our case 80 to 150 years later, we were fighting for self-determination.

    By fighting that war, we took the self-determination away from the Vietnamese.

    The reason that Eastern Europe has embraced peace and proserity is that we provided an example, helped them where we could, but let them achieve their own self-determination.

    Self determination is the adolescent, Freedom is the adult.

  9. Lee Says:

    Actually, the only death penalty in Star Trek was ‘General Order 7′ which forbade contact with Talos IV(The Menagerie)
    In fact, a better analogy to Vietnam would be the episode “A Private Little War”, where a pre bronze age society was being influenced by the Klingons, who were arming the villagers with flintlocks to gain an advantage over the hill people. The solution was to arm the hill people with similar weaponry, described as “balance of power”. When the Klingons introduced rifled barrels, it was matched by the federation.
    In Vietnam, we failed to maintain the balance of power as we continue to maintain in Korea.

  10. Lee Says:

    And for people who weren’t being armed by the Soviets and Chinese, they sure had a lot of AK-47′s, T-55′s, MiG 17′s, and SA-2′s.

  11. DonkeyKong Says:

    Lee, your Mom want’s you to move out of her basement. The cheeto dust from your living space is giving her “orange lung”

  12. Lee Says:

    Did you ever tell us your MOS, DKong?

  13. stumbley Says:

    “Self determination is the adolescent”

    And who but you would know more about adolescence?

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Trolls are back now that their classical conditioning concerning inputing military style code words no longer apply.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    But fight they did’nt.

    Go ahead and research the “bravery” of the ARVN forces. Aside from the 18th Division at Xuan Loc, it was a roll over.

    Talk about Leftist bullshit. The aristocrats are in high gear today, over the lower orders, indeed.

    The Left are experts at cutting your lung out and then laughing at you for not being able to breath, as if it was somehow your fault you don’t have two lungs.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    Neo,

    seems to have spawned a further opening of that wound that’s never really closed, the Vietnam War.

    I think the descendants of the victors of Vietnam and the descendants of the losers of Vietnam are fighting it over again, the war that their ancestors and family members fought and lost. The winners of Vietnam will maintain their fiction and fabricated truths should they win in Iraq as well. While the losers of Vietnam, attempting to tell their tales, will acquire a boost from winning in Iraq, perhaps enough to dispel the myth and lies of Vietnam once and for all.

    by Matt Yglesias, appearing in the Guardian

    Yglesias fails the history test just by existing.

    One points this out not to condemn America’s Asia policy of the 1940s and 1950s, but merely to observe that democracy-promotion wasn’t especially high on the agenda. This serves, in turn, as a reminder that the United States hardly invaded Japan (or Germany or Italy for that matter) in order to build democracies. Rather, Japan launched a sneak attack on American soil, Germany invaded Poland, both were hell-bent on world domination, and the allies prosecuted World War II as a fundamentally defensive measure. The contrast with Iraq could not be more stark.-Yg

    The fact that people think wars are won on the defensive, Neo, speaks for itself. There aren’t a lot of laws or principles in war certain to be present, except for the omnipresent “to win”, but this is one of them.

    Then read the actual text of Bush’s speech, not provided by most newspapers reporting on it.

    Cause they didn’t read it. The media and editors take the speech, figure out what it is supposed to be about, and then pre-write a story on it. Now a great disinformation project may be crafted to fool the media into creating a pre-story through bad information concerning “leaked speeches”. Then when Bush gives his real speech, the entire media apparatus is caught off guard and starts looking like the fools they truly are. Provide a hundred more such incidents of disinformation and the media won’t know who to trust in the field of “leaks”.

    Course this is a counter-espionage technique best used by intelligence services. Not White House Press corps peeps.

  17. Doug L Says:

    Lee points out that the Prime Directive was not the death penalty and that is correct, but it is still the Prime Directive so its got to be awfully important!!!

    There is quite a bit written on the relationship between Star Trek and Viet Nam, A Private Little War was just one episode that related to the war, a later one was more anti war and there’s no doubt how the shows creators felt about it the war:

    “If there were any doubts where the makers of Star Trek now stood on the Vietnam War itself, these were resolved in the pages of the nation’s leading SF magazines. Like other Americans, SF writers were profoundly and bitterly divided about the Vietnam War, and in early 1968 more than a hundred and fifty of them took out rival advertisements supporting and opposing continuation of the conflict. These ads, signed before the Tet Offensive, appeared first in the March issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which came out just before “The Omega Glory.” Not one person associated with Star Trek joined the 72 signers of the ad that stated “We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country.” Among the 82 who signed the ad that stated “We oppose the participation of the United States in the war in Vietnam” were Star Trek scriptwriters Jerome Bixby, Jerry Sohl, Harlan Ellison, and Norman Spinrad as well as Gene Roddenberry himself.”

    http://startrekdom.blogspot.com/2007/04/star-trek-and-vietnam-war-part-3.html

    This link covers more ground I think and gets into the various episodes which relate to the war:

    http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/62/franklin62art.htm

  18. kungfu Says:

    DonkeyKong,

    Good post.

  19. DonkeyKong Says:

    Thanks, all I get from Neo’s “students” is snide remarks, Ymarsakars lame “300″ screeds, and a whole lot of geeking out on Star Trek.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    This is Sparta*!

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    Good info, Doug.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    They really really love you Neo, and are very “loyal” and dedicated. Just not dedicated enough to squeeze sense into the small code block. Heck, typing their names in is strenous enough, asking for more might break the tool’s warranty.

  23. Anon Says:

    I admit I haven’t read the two articles you linked to, yet. I got sidetracked with Michael Hirsh’s “Why America’s Pullout From Vietnam Worked” (look under “Bush on Iraq” in the navbar on the left).

    Hirsh jumps from the end of the Vietnam War to “when I visited Vietnam in late December of 1991″, and points out that the Vietnamese were welcoming us American capitalists back. “This was the “harsh” aftermath that George W. Bush attempted to describe this week when he warned against pulling out of Iraq as we did in Vietnam.”, Hirsh says.

    He goes on to make some other points, and some could form the basis for a reasoned discussion, but I’m sorry, I was lost in memory, time-portaled back to my college days and reading Voltaire’s Candide…

    “In this best of all possible worlds… everything is for the best.”

    Unless of course, you happened to be one of the luckless who live(d) under the volcano.

    I guess all those re-education camps, and boat people, and (slightly different topic) Pol Pot’s killing fields, etc, were just a short, inconsequential dream.

    Yeah, that’s it, all a dream. And when I wake up, Bobby will be in the shower and we’ll just skip last season.

    I feel better now.

  24. Lee Says:

    Seems to me dkong, you get what you give.
    By the way, I type from your mom’s bedroom. She says “hi”.

  25. Ymarsakar Says:

    Acting his age is not going to help, Lee.

  26. Lee Says:

    Sometimes you need to illustrate childishness from the child’s point of veiw, for them to understand.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    He’s not a child. He’s an adult.

    That is the problem.

  28. Lee Says:

    Thus, the illustration.

  29. naverhtrad Says:

    I’ve never felt that Vietnam was the correct analogy to Iraq’s current predicament, regardless of the seeming home-front similarities. In Vietnam, the conflicts were not religious or ethnic, but ideological – and they tended to be a little more clean-cut (not a lot, but significantly). On the one side you had the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese (royalist / free-market) government and on the other you had the Soviet-supported North Vietnamese (nationalist / communist-sympathetic) government and the Viet Cong resistance to SVN. There was a long-standing ethnic and linguistic identity known as ‘Vietnamese’. There is no such clean-cut ideological distinction in Iraq, nor is there really a primary ethnic-linguistic identity that can qualify as ‘Iraqi’.

    Instead, what is happening in Iraq is that people are squaring off against ethnic and religious lines. The loyalty of the everyday Iraqi seems not to be placed in the Iraqi central government, but in the local sheikh or Ba’athist politician or Shi’a cleric or gang leader. Realistically speaking, Iraq is a new Yugoslavia, with Hussein having filled in for Tito. And now we’ve got a new series of mini-Balkan wars on our hands, and regardless of whether or not Vietnam is comparable on the home front, if you want historical context to play a role, neo, it’s going to have to be the proper historical context on the Iraqi front. And I think that, realistically, what’s going to end up happening is that Iraq is going to split into three or more ethno-religious nations, and we are going to have to phase out troops to compensate, leaving behind as many as we have to for nation-building and guard duties.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    And now we’ve got a new series of mini-Balkan wars on our hands, and regardless of whether or not Vietnam is comparable on the home front, if you want historical context to play a role, neo, it’s going to have to be the proper historical context on the Iraqi front.

    Your historical context that human desire for power is different when it comes to Communism than it does with tribal loyalty and ethnic loyalty (as if religion or belief in community is not ideological) is not useful.

    it’s going to have to be the proper historical context

    It is far more useful to selectively compare individual actions and causal chains, which is what Neo does in specific instances of Vietnam policy and Iraqi policy.

    And I think that, realistically, what’s going to end up happening is that Iraq is going to split into three or more ethno-religious nations, and we are going to have to phase out troops to compensate

    Truman’s excuse in Korea was that he didn’t want to use nuclear weapons and escalate a war with Stalin. What’s your excuse for letting the conflict continue to churn out bodies now? That is what a 3 state solution is, when translated into real lives and policies. Balkans as well as Israeli-Palestinian problems bear this out.

    There is no such clean-cut ideological distinction in Iraq, nor is there really a primary ethnic-linguistic identity that can qualify as ‘Iraqi’.

    Germany wasn’t a nation in the 1600s either. The point is, calling out the obvious as to why the Arab world is the way it is and why it is producing terrorism while sitting on oil wealth but not using it to bring their peoples to the 21st century, is without benefit.

    If the Arab world was based upon nationalism like America or even the transnational progressivism of Brussels and the EU, they wouldn’t be producing terrorists, now would they? At least not in the numbers that they are, given that Germany has plenty of homegrown terrorists that have killed Americans and attacked American bases in Germany. They even trade the terrorists in their jails, those that have shed American blood, along with millions of ransom money in trade for hostages.

    To the extent that Iraqis are not Vietnamese, that simply means the US must adapt in its treatment of Iraqis, along Kurdish, tribal, and religious lines. If you cannot do so, then that is not the fault of the Iraqis. They are what they are, and if they are ever to change sooner than a few centuries, foreign input will be required.

    A three state solution will be about as successful as Korea’s two state solution and Israel’s two state solution. Essentially, it would be no prize worth the American blood and treasure already spent. A wasted opportunity. What’s true for Iraq is also true many fold over for Afghanistan, a much more rural and less cosmopolitan place. I find your analysis, naverhtrad, to be essentially an excuse for failure in everyone of America’s attempts to project power.

    America failed in Vietnam when there was national tradition, whatever that means in the day of guerrilla warfare and transnational organizations while fighting French occupation forces. The logic, or realism, would be inescapable that if America failed against a promising backdrop then it would fail even harder against a less promising backdrop called Iraq and the Middle East tribal and family based ethics.

    Yet, that ignores the fact that wars are never decided upon a coin toss. The destinies of men and nations are not decided by what occured in the beginning. What America loss, the Communists gained, if only because they got rid of anyone else that might have contested them. Communism itself was a failed ideology yet it won. Victory and defeat are never decided by historical facts. Nor will it in Iraq. Islam may win or it may not. All historical events can be turned outside or strenghtened by turning points. Neo’s point is very valid on this. And history does not care what event or war in question is being affected by a turning point.

    Historical context is useless for figuring out how to turn a force one way or another in the present. It is only useful for learning what did or did not work in the past. As such the knowledge that America failed in Vietnam even with a population that had nationalism, can be argued that this then means that America can only fail in Iraq and accept a three state solution.

    There are other points of context that can be brought out.

    There was a long-standing ethnic and linguistic identity known as ‘Vietnamese’.

    But such comments like that only point to one context. As I said, it’s not useful for victory in Iraq.

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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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