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Wait...We...Won...In Vietnam?
Our president has all the command of American history of a stoned-out valley girl:

Asked if the experience in Vietnam offered lessons for Iraq, Bush said, "We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile."

He said "it's just going to take a long period of time" for "an ideology of freedom to overcome an ideology of hate. Yet, the world that we live in today is one where they want things to happen immediately."

"We'll succeed unless we quit," the president said.

Those stupid enough to believe this please confess below.

Posted by aalkon at November 18, 2006 7:13 AM

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I suspect knee-jerking is all that happens any time Vietnam and Iraq are compared, because, aside from any outrage a person might have about the current bunch in charge, both situations are emotional issues for people, who then quit thinking.

For instance: where is the honesty in Vietnam opponents, now that we know that Westmoreland's body counts weren't artifically inflated, that China actually did send people by the thousands? In Iraq, where is the honesty in assessing the tactical situation, which allows the continuous replenishment of arms used against Americans? Where is the acknowledgement that Congress has the plain Constitutional duty to declare war?

Complaining is not a solution. What is?

Posted by: Radwaste at November 18, 2006 2:33 AM

Confession hereby tendered. It's amusing that people think this conflict could have been avoided; that in an age of civilian air travel and instant communications, the frictions between modern life and primitive life could have been managable, if only.... (?)

> Where is the acknowledgement
> that Congress has the plain
> Constitutional duty to declare
> war?

Well, they could have pulled the brakes. They were like a hungover college sophomore in the back of the lecture hall, slouching and avoiding eye contact, hoping not to be quizzed.

Posted by: Crid at November 18, 2006 7:07 AM

You're absolutely right about Congress, Crid.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 7:21 AM

Oh, you're so funny.
There's Bush, in the capitol of our big enemy of the 70's, which is now desperate for free trade with the US as its Communist system dissolves into rapacious capitalism, their dearest wish being to be competitive in US markets with the communists-dissolving-etc in China next door, and here's Bush saying that freedom will overcome hatred. And this offends you.
Maybe you could write Sasha Cohen's next movie.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at November 18, 2006 8:57 AM

Um, are you, like George Bush seems to be, under the impression that the Vietnam war was a raging success? That all the time there and soldiers' lives lost actually resulted in a win?

Bush, at least, got to duck combat, thanks to his connections.

John McCain wasn't so lucky...or so unpatriotic.

Sasha Baron Cohen doesn't need my help exposing racism and small-mindedness.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 9:06 AM

I would not equate going to Vietnam with patriotism, which is to say that some of the draft dodgers who went abroad love America as much as the soldiers who died there did.

Posted by: eric at November 18, 2006 1:04 PM

". . . etc. etc. . . . And this offends you."

It's not offensive - it's incorrect. It is not the Vietnam war that was successful - it is global capitalism.

What's offensive is that President Bush counts on the American public to not know the difference.

The Vietnam war did not create Vietnam's desire to participation in the global economy. Vietnam's survival requires it to participate in the global economy. America comprises a dominant proportion of the global economy.

Founders of international commercial legal practices, which have encouraged international investments, have been acknowledged for their motivation to promote world peace.

Posted by: Michelle at November 18, 2006 9:13 PM

I agree with you there, Eric, but I would venture that McCain felt a duty to his country. What you feel your duty is is up to you; ie, whether you're a consciencious objector, etc. It's speculation on my part, but I'm guessing George Bush felt no duty to anybody or anything but his addictions.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 18, 2006 9:44 PM

uhhhh, goddess: Bush was not implying that Vietnam was a success.

He was implying that then, as now, an precipitous withdrawal will (a) abandon those depending upon us to dictatorship and years of bloodshed, and (b) embolden the enemies of democratic/free market governance in the region, destabilizing it.

Talk about not knowing any history!

Does the goddess know/remember anything about the killing fields that followed our retreat from Vietnam? Or the decades of violence from which Indochina is just now slowly extracting itself?

Funny - all us primitive red-staters have no problem parsing that. Or relating it to the successful introduction of democracy in both Japan and Germany, both of which took decades of American presence to implement.

Which is Bush's real point.

Posted by: Ben-David at November 19, 2006 7:26 AM

Oh, sorry, little ole airhead me, did we have "success" in Vietnam?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 19, 2006 7:29 AM

With Sunni and Shiites fighting each other, is there EVER any chance for "success" in Iraq? And do you think it was wise we went in there? Bin Laden hits the WTC, and instead of flattening Afghanistan, as we should have, or at least, the parts where Bin Laden and his merry homicidal maniac religious fanatics were hiding, we go after a guy who just wanted to be left alone to plunder and murder (comparably few) of his citizens. Yes, Saddam is a bad guy, and did horrible things, but if we just cared about that, we'd be in Darfur, not Baghdad.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 19, 2006 7:33 AM

Oh, and one more thing. Don't be too sure I'm a "blue stater" simply because I live in California and think we have a moron who's made a mess of our country in the White House. I voted for Schwarzenegger and I'm a fiscal conservative -- a true, "no-nation-building" conservative...remember when GWB campaigned on that?...and socially very, very libertarian. You wanna be a street hooker? Not a problem as long as you're not selling your ass on my front lawn.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 19, 2006 7:36 AM

"You wanna be a street hooker? Not a problem as long as you're not selling your ass on my front lawn."

How about in front of your front lawn, on the public sidewalk?

I'm mentally weighing the benefits of libertarian-free-market vs. zoning laws.

Posted by: Michelle at November 19, 2006 8:44 AM

I'm not against SOME regulation, just as you can't open a car dealership in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It's not designed to accomodate the traffic. In either case, in fact.

As for the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam, here's a biggie:

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 19, 2006 8:46 AM

Oh Goddess:

Does your shift to other topics mean you realize you were stretching it in your initial claim about Bush? Not that you'll admit it - I've been around this blog long enough to know that...

We went into Iraq because there was clear evidence that it was a clearinghouse for terror, and the correct way to address a worldwide terror apparatus is to dry up the swamps in which it breeds.

Bush also thought that nation-building is a better, more moral AND strategically correct alternative to levelling entire contries... but then I forgot, he's a fundamentalist Christian lunk while you've done the I'm-an-atheist-Jew-who-still-believes-in-social-justice tapdance several times on these pages... so much more humane to just level the dump, eh?

And I don't think for a minute that someone as intelligent as you really thinks we can turn our backs on the world in this era, as if it's all happening "over there" - that world is gone: modern finance, culture, politics and technology bind us to the rest of the world - and brought terror to our doorsteps.

Posted by: Ben-David at November 19, 2006 2:42 PM

This is what Bush meant:

Were we motivated by cowardice in our opposition to the Vietnam War? It is inarguable that fear played a role in the anti-war movement. The proof was that once Congress did away with the draft, the opposition to the war dissipated with alarming speed. Without the threat of being drafted, few were motivated to battle to oppose a war that, until the moment the draft was repealed, was widely characterized as immoral, illegal, and based on lies.

Why is this important today? Defensive rationalizations and intellectualizations are used to keep us from knowing uncomfortable things about ourselves. In the 1960s, in order to avoid any feelings of fear and attendant anxiety over masculinity, the war effort needed to be demonized. The original idea of "speaking truth to power" required minimal bravery. The level of danger the anti-war protesters faced was a tiny fraction of the real danger truly brave people living under brutal governments faced in Eastern Europe, or that our military men faced in Southeast Asia. Yet in order to avoid feeling scared, the war protesters needed to see themselves as bravely facing a quasi-fascist regime (LBJ and then Nixon); our protests were heroic efforts to establish and support peace and justice. In reality , the protests were nothing of the sort and millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians paid the price of our rationalizations. By demonizing the war as based on lies, immoral, imperialistic, etc (which all had a grain of truth but were clearly exaggerations and hardly the exclusive reasons for our involvement in Vietnam) the logic of our defensive edifice required the eventual cut-off of funds to the South Vietnamese, who until the military aid cut-off were more than holding their own.

We see the same need to rationalize today in Iraq. The anti-war movement, as if to re-confirm their essential morality and bravery, continue to "speak truth to power" at no real risk to themselves. In order to avoid the deeply hidden questions, maintain consistency in their rationalizations, and continue to retroactively justify their anti-Vietnam War beliefs, the anti-War campaigners are willing to once again abandon people who trusted us. Millions of Iraqis will be killed but they will feel morally superior and will continue to support the edifice of rationalizations that have sustained their image of themselves as brave rebels since the glory days of the 1960s.

How much is it worth to stabilize a nation that has never known consensual governance and create an eventual democratic state in the middle of the most dangerous place on Earth? The reality is that our casualty rate in Iraq is minimal compared to past wars and the primary reason to abandon the Iraqis at this early date in their attempts to gain stability is a continuing need for too many Americans of a certain age (who unfortunately have great power over the image of the war) to maintain a defensive stance that has already caused untold misery and threatens to compound the misery once again. I do not mean to imply our conduct of the war has been perfect or that victory is right around the corner, but the only way we can lose this war is by abandoning the fight. Our enemies know this and count on it. We should not rationalize our failure of will as a triumph of morality; we did that once and it was the height of immorality.

- Read it all here.

Posted by: Ben-David at November 19, 2006 2:47 PM

Oh Goddess:

Does your shift to other topics mean you realize you were stretching it in your initial claim about Bush

Oh, Ben David, this isn't school. Because you begin a particular line of inquiry doesn't mean I have to pick up on it. Frankly, I'm on double deadline for Thanksgiving, and reading Martie Haselton's latest on Error Management Theory.

How much is it worth to stabilize a nation that has never known consensual governance and create an eventual democratic state in the middle of the most dangerous place on Earth?

See any of that likely to happen soon?

Um, and this is our job why?

And it's rational to think the Sunnis and Shiites will kiss and make up?

We had simplistic thinkers who started this war and "prepared" for it, and we're paying the price now -- especially those American soldiers who've lost lives or limbs over there.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 19, 2006 3:47 PM

You're wrong Ben-David. Bush sat for 8 years listening to, "Your daddy didn't finish the job, your daddy didn't finish the job." So when he got into office he was hell bent to oust Saddam and found justification for it. Saddam in his wildest dreams could never have killed 3000 Americans with his dirty bombs and little terrorist onclaves. Bush has that blood on his hands. Furthermore his family was in bed with Bin Laden's family so he gave him a month to get away before he invaded Afghanistan. Bin Laden is languishing in Saudi Arabia at his brother's house watching bellydancers and drinking Turkish coffee, laughing in his beard while taking his triweekly dialysis treatments. Hell he might even be right here in the US. Democracy for Iraq? They don't understand the concept of free speech. Try flushing the Koran down the toilet or drawing a cartoon of Muhammed and see what happens. They sure don't want tyranny and they don't understand democracy. They want theocracy; but there's Sunnis and Shiites who differ in their interpretation of the Koran. Dividing Iraq based on resources and faction might be one way of solving things. We can't go back and undo what we've done. And what we're doing is costing us way too dearly to continue. And protesters of the Vietnam war? They just didn't want their fathers, brothers and sons butchered anymore for no good reason, that's why.

Posted by: chicknlady at November 19, 2006 9:17 PM

Ben-David, your long winded posts are missing an essential, ethical problem I see in the Vietnam War. What was the war over, in essence? It was over political ideal. The Vietnamese for the most part wanted a change. Ho chi min wasnt the greatest guy around, but he was certainly a better human being than any member of the government in power at the time. The essential problem is this; we have no right to stop another nation from becoming communist just because we dont like it. Yeah, they're learning now that the system has problems. But it was not our right to judge that. We were in it for the selfish gain of having control of another capitalistic country, even though that government we backed was not in the service of its people. This is wrong. No other way to put it; you are ethically WRONG.

Posted by: scott at November 19, 2006 9:57 PM

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