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Thread: Iraq as Vietnam

  1. #1
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    Published in the May 3, 2004 issue of The Nation
    Iraq as Vietnam
    by William Greider

    It is a pity the major news media have not convened a commission of inquiry to examine their own mistakes and derelictions concerning the war in Iraq. Wouldn't it be instructive to go back now and re-examine the "documents" the press and television provided Americans to understand why the United States must invade and conquer? Many of the news stories would sound quite nave and gullible (also hysterical) in light of present events. The patriotic banners that accompanied TV news reports would look irresponsibly biased. Remember those investigative reporters uncovering Saddam's secret weapons like bomb-sniffing dogs? Remember the bellicose columnists and editorial writers who called for war with grotesque self-confidence?

    Of course, news people don't look backward. No time for self-examination when they are caught up in the "new" news--a commission in Washington examining whether the White House failed its duty to thwart terrorism; the bloody unraveling of "nation-building" in Iraq. Both are suspenseful stories and compete for the main headlines.

    Why do I feel melancholy rather than excitement? When reporters reach an advanced age, they sometimes become burdened by memory (assuming their brains are still functional). One can begin to recognize that much of the news is actually an old story--recycled versions of the human folly committed by previous generations. To my eyes, the insurrection under way in Iraq looks like "little Tet"--a smaller version of the original Tet offensive the Vietcong staged in 1968. It shocks Americans in much the same way. Iraq is a "little war" compared with Vietnam, but Americans are learning, once again, that the indigenous people we "liberated" do not love us. Many want our occupying army to withdraw. Insane as it may seem to Americans, they are willing to die for this objective. But what about the schools and roads we built for them?

    Every day I hear echoes from the past. George W. Bush even invokes the same phrase--"stay the course"--that four decades ago was understood, ironically, as an expression of official obstinacy and ignorance. A prominent newspaper columnist, one of the most ardent advocates of this war-for-democracy, scolds the "silent majority" in Iraq, urging them to stand up against the killers and proclaim their solidarity with the US troops. He seems Angry at their cowardice. His kind of frustration was a constant theme during Vietnam too.

    When popular resolve among the Vietnamese disappointed Washington, US strategists would change the government in Saigon. The US proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, fired the interior minister in charge of the Iraqi police we trained to maintain civil order, because they fled the police stations rather than shoot it out with their countrymen. The "hearts and minds" thing was never resolved in Vietnam either. After the Americans withdrew, they discovered that some of their Vietnamese employees (even in news bureaus) had been Vietcong agents all through the war.

    What did you learn from that war, Grandpa? Like most Americans, I never saw the battlefield in Indochina, but I did learn painful, indelible lessons as a citizen. My grandchildren are watching this war on television, so I will tell them: I learned that the government sometimes lies to the people--big lies with awful consequences--and sometimes government begins to believe its own lies. As a reporter, I learned with embarrassment to listen to the people in the street, because sometimes they tell you things the government is concealing. Again and again, antiwar dissenters and civil-rights activists told me the FBI and CIA were spying on them, tapping their phones, infiltrating their ranks and disrupting their organizations. The stories I dismissed as paranoia all turned out to be true. I also learned that military conquest, regardless of the stated intentions, seldom succeeds in creating democracy.

    [b]The war in Iraq is different from Vietnam in one fundamental respect: A substantial portion of Americans (and others around the world) were in the streets protesting this venture before the shooting started. The media generally dismissed them and often caricatured the protesters as aging hippies on a sixties nostalgia trip. It's a pity reporters didn't listen more respectfully. Virtually every element of what has gone wrong in Iraq was cited by those demonstrators as among the reasons they opposed the march to war.[/b]

    How could such forgetfulness prevail, especially among a smart, engaged group like news people? It is perhaps not as sinister as it sounds. Most of the men and women now in charge of the news processes were boys and girls during Vietnam. The youngest reporters were not yet born. Their generation, I imagine, experienced the war more distantly as a disturbed era that ended in national humiliation. An air of shame hung over their growing-up years, a residue of bitterness and guilt all around. Did Americans wimp out? Did the news media poison their patriotism? My hunch is that many of today's reporters and editors came to think so and were determined to be less squeamish, more "manly" about warmaking. Editors over 50 can't hide behind this excuse.

    It also matters that Americans are taught a triumphalist version of our history that typically blots out the darker passages. The Moro War in the Philippines went on for many long years and was as brutal as Vietnam, with torture and massacres by frustrated soldiers. Does anyone remember the Moro War? US troops were trying to suppress a guerrilla insurrection in this new US colony. The resistance was centered on the same island province where "Muslim terrorists" have recently appeared as a "threat" to civilization.

    "Tell me how this ends?" an American field commander asked a battlefield reporter. I will tell him how it ought to end: Declare victory and get out. Withdraw now, not later, as responsibly as this can be arranged. That wise formulation was first proposed during the bloodiest Vietnam years by the late Senator George Aiken, a Vermont Republican. Neither LBJ nor Nixon had the courage to listen. "Stay the course." "Light at the end of the tunnel." "Peace with honor." The war continued for years, with many more deaths on both sides and eventual defeat for ours. US military power can proceed now to pulverize the cities of Iraq, but there is no victory ahead, only more killing, and when it is over, a well-earned sense of shame.



    National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers 'One World, Ready or Not', 'Secrets of the Temple', 'Who Will Tell The People' and, most recently, 'The Soul of Capitalism'

  2. #2
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    Apparently he doesn't watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, he doesn't read NYT, Washington Post et. al....

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    The writer states...."I never saw the battlefield in Indochina"...right there he loses all credibility with me. We have a saying amongst us Nam vets..."if you haven't been there, shut your mouth"...

    You cannot compare Vietnam and Iraq for one major significant difference...North Vietnam was supported by two super powers (China and Russia) with munitions, food, supplys, advisors, etc. and all comparisons stop with that. What super power is supplying Iraq?

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by Hermanator[/i]@Apr 21 2004, 10:27 AM
    [b] The writer states...."I never saw the battlefield in Indochina"...right there he loses all credibility with me. We have a saying amongst us Nam vets..."if you haven't been there, shut your mouth"...

    You cannot compare Vietnam and Iraq for one major significant difference...North Vietnam was supported by two super powers (China and Russia) with munitions, food, supplys, advisors, etc. and all comparisons stop with that. What super power is supplying Iraq? [/b][/quote]
    Valid question Hermanator. To be sure there isn't a Superpower supporting the insurgency in Iraq. But the fighting is just as fierce. Why because of the weaponry acculumated under the Hussein Regime. The Center for Defense Information estimates the Hussein Government stockpiled 400,000 tons of light arms and ammunition during its 20 year reign. Most of these arms was scattered by Hussein before the war and only a minute percentage have been confiscated by US Forces. Total US light arms amounted to 1.2 million tons. It certainly is nice to have the fancy airplanes and big tanks but one thing is for sure. With that much weaponry kicking around the Iraqi Resistance is not about to run out of fire power anytime soon.

    And as all Americans should have learned in Vietnam especially the Vets. It's not the size of the dog in the fight it's the size of the fight in the dog. And the Iraqis are showing they have quite a bit of fight.

  5. #5
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    "I read Noam Chomsky, smoke cloves and only watch movies if they have subtitles!!!!"

    Hey, [b]WCM[/b] - you know that the fighting is "just as fierce" because you were both (1) in Vietnam during that fighting and (2) in Iraq during the current fighting??

    That's an amazing feat, bravo. Most people just read a few lines from [u][url]www.debka.com[/url] [/u] or [u][url]www.awesomerussiannewspapers.com[/url][/u] and run their mouths about nonsense to further a personal agenda. I am impressed that you haven't fallen to that level....

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Apr 21 2004, 11:38 AM
    [b] That's an amazing feat, bravo. Most people just read a few lines from [u][url]www.debka.com[/url] [/u] or [u][url]www.awesomerussiannewspapers.com[/url][/u] and run their mouths about nonsense to further a personal agenda. I am impressed that you haven't fallen to that level.... [/b][/quote]
    Thank you

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by WestCoastMole+Apr 21 2004, 12:49 PM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (WestCoastMole @ Apr 21 2004, 12:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--jets5ever[/i]@Apr 21 2004, 11:38 AM
    [b] That&#39;s an amazing feat, bravo. Most people just read a few lines from [u][url]www.debka.com[/url] [/u] or [u][url]www.awesomerussiannewspapers.com[/url][/u] and run their mouths about nonsense to further a personal agenda. I am impressed that you haven&#39;t fallen to that level.... [/b][/quote]
    Thank you [/b][/quote]
    Don&#39;t mention it.

    What part of Iraq is your unit stationed in presently?

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Apr 21 2004, 11:38 AM
    [b] Hey, [b]WCM[/b] - you know that the fighting is "just as fierce" because you were both (1) in Vietnam during that fighting and (2) in Iraq during the current fighting?? [/b][/quote]
    No because I follow the news and see a dramatic increase in the US fatality count. Last week&#39;s US Death Toll was the highest since October 1971 which occurred when fighting the Vietnam War.


    Dope <_<

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by WestCoastMole+Apr 22 2004, 12:14 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (WestCoastMole @ Apr 22 2004, 12:14 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--jets5ever[/i]@Apr 21 2004, 11:38 AM
    [b] Hey, [b]WCM[/b] - you know that the fighting is "just as fierce" because you were both (1) in Vietnam during that fighting and (2) in Iraq during the current fighting?? [/b][/quote]
    No because I follow the news and see a dramatic increase in the US fatality count. Last week&#39;s US Death Toll was the highest since October 1971 which occurred when fighting the Vietnam War.


    Dope <_< [/b][/quote]
    Oh, you "follow the news." Impressive.

    Nothing like armchair historians....

    Dude, do you honestly think anyone on this board takes you seriously as a thinker? Surely you realize that you are a giant joke??

    Not that you care, but you have to be the most intellectually inferior lefty that I have ever argued against. Schooling you bores me. It&#39;s not even challenging. You made absurd, ridiculous statements and cannot even come close to backing them up. What, you did a Google search about casualty counts and noticed that there is actual fighting going on and thus the two wars are comparable, even similar? "Well, 5ever, soldiers ARE dying in Iraq and they [i]also[/i] died in Vietnam, so blah blah blah...America is Satan and not only that, our military isn&#39;t even as strong as those brave terrorists who blow up children in cafes&#33;" Hey, here&#39;s a newsflash for you; soldiers die in war. It&#39;s an unfortunate thing, but in that sense, ALL wars are similar. Lefties get aroused by the word "Vietnam" and try to interject it into any conversation. Oh, you just loved it when America left Vietnam with their tail between their legs, and nothing would make you happier than if it happened again. You WANT Iraq to be the new Vietnam. You want it with every fiber of your being. It matters little whether or not it actually IS like Vietnam and even a well-trained chimp can tell you that it is far, far too early to even suggest substantive similarities between the two conflicts, other than superficial similarities common to ALL armed conflict.

    Your agenda is crystal clear, guy. Trust me, you ain&#39;t fooling anyone, no matter how hard you try to pass yourself off as a serious, sober analyst of history or current events. You&#39;re a hack and everyone knows it.

    Have fun with your anarcho-syndicalism and your Noam Chomsky, Toonces. I&#39;ll ask AGAIN - What is your strategy for dealing with terrorism? Please, I am waiting with bated breath for your reply....

  10. #10
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by WestCoastMole[/i]@Apr 18 2004, 10:14 AM
    [b] [b]The war in Iraq is different from Vietnam in one fundamental respect: A substantial portion of Americans (and others around the world) were in the streets protesting this venture before the shooting started. [/b]

    [/b][/quote]
    Substantial?

    A laughable statement.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by Piper+Apr 22 2004, 09:32 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Piper @ Apr 22 2004, 09:32 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--WestCoastMole[/i]@Apr 18 2004, 10:14 AM
    [b] [b]The war in Iraq is different from Vietnam in one fundamental respect: A substantial portion of Americans (and others around the world) were in the streets protesting this venture before the shooting started. [/b]

    [/b][/quote]
    Substantial?

    A laughable statement. [/b][/quote]
    On September 13th 2001 I was driving through NOHO in Manhattan to get to my girlfriend&#39;s (now my wife) apartment in Hoboken. The smoke was still rising from the Towers which had fallen two days earlier. There was still a cloud of dust covering the city. Most of Manhattan was still closed off. Firefighters and EMT&#39;s were still sifting through the wreckage looking for survivors. As I drove along I happened apon a group of about 100-150 people blocking off the streets. Hmmm I wondered could this be some sort of candle light vigil? Why are there police here? I went looking around my car for a lighter or an American flag to hold up to show solidarity with the vigil.

    As I approached i noticed a sign. It said BUSH&#39;S RACIST WAR&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; It was a protest against war in Afganistan&#33;&#33;&#33;@@&#33;#@&#33; The towers were still on fire and theese a&#036;&#036;holes were organized in the streets of Manhattan just a few blocks away protesting our response. As I drove by I put down my lighter and took out my American flag. I held it high and proud as I drove by yelling a slogan of my own. F U TRAITORS.

    I learned a very important lesson that day. There is a certain percentage of the population who are so radical that there not even worth having a conversation with.(WCM) Thier opinions are completely irrelevant as they differ with 90% of the population. You talk about substantial portions of protestors. I submit that those same people would protest any war or for that matter anything the President says. They were out there protesting Afghanistan on September 13th, and before that they were protesting Globalization or any other issue they could get thier hands on.

    They are irrelevant.

  12. #12
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    [quote][b]Dude, do you honestly think anyone on this board takes you seriously as a thinker? Surely you realize that you are a giant joke??

    Not that you care, but you have to be the most intellectually inferior lefty that I have ever argued against. Schooling you bores me. It&#39;s not even challenging. [/b][/quote]

    [b][SIZE=3]Yawnnnnnnnnnn[/SIZE][/b]

    [quote][b]You made absurd, ridiculous statements and cannot even come close to backing them up. [/b][/quote]

    I initiated this thread by posting a reprint of an article that will appear in The Nation Magazine. Hermanator made a valid criticism to which I responded. Then you jump in like the interloper you are not responding to the article or the line of discussion but rather trying to bait me with silly banalities peppered with name calling. Face the fact 5ever you are the Forum Peanut Gallery &#33; It would be a refreshing change to see you develop a cogent argument from reason and a citation of facts.


    [quote][b]you did a Google search about casualty counts and noticed that there is actual fighting going on and thus the two wars are comparable, even similar? "Well, 5ever, soldiers ARE dying in Iraq and they [i]also[/i] died in Vietnam,[/b][/quote]

    Stop misstating what I said 5ever. I said the US Death rate in Iraq for the week of April 11 through the 17th was the highest since October 1971 when the US was engaged in Vietnam.

    [quote][b]...America is Satan and not only that, our military isn&#39;t even as strong as those brave terrorists who blow up children in cafes&#33;" [/b][/quote]

    I never said that either. I am careful to point out the absence of moral turpitude on the part of the American Government and differrentiated that the American People. Although the American People deserve no right to be surprised when they are attacked by foreigners who lash out against a brutal government that perpetrates untrammeled excesses on foreign governments and foreign people.

    [quote][b], ALL wars are similar. Lefties get aroused by the word "Vietnam" and try to interject it into any conversation. Oh, you just loved it when America left Vietnam with their tail between their legs, and nothing would make you happier than if it happened again. You WANT Iraq to be the new Vietnam. It matters little whether or not it actually IS like Vietnam [/b][/quote]

    Actually the day Saigon fell, April 28, 1975, the story was given almost ZERO coverage in the news media. My political opinions were in their formative stages and I like most people had little reaction to it. As to the Iraq-Vietnam analogy there are a couple of factors that are directly comparable between the two confrontations. Both were initiated basised on fabricated lies which were used to deceive the American People. With Vietnam it was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution with Iraq it was Weapons of Mass Destruction. Both regimes also plunged the US into these misadventures without a clear eit strategy. To be sure both conflicts involve a different type of conflict but as troop requirements escalate other omnious parrallels will manifest themselves. As to a direct comparison I actually agree with you, simplistic reductions are a sure ticket to a fractured analysis. Which begs the question, Why weren&#39;t you pointing this out to your Rightist cohorts before the beginning of this attrocity when they were calling the war opponents appeasers and comparing them to Neville Chamberlain ?

    [quote][b]Your agenda is crystal clear, guy. Trust me, you ain&#39;t fooling anyone, [/b][/quote]

    So tell me Miss Cleo what is my agenda ?

    [quote][b]What is your strategy for dealing with terrorism? [/b][/quote]

    My strategy is for the US Government to alter its foreign policy to stop creating terrorist.

  13. #13
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    [quote][i]Originally posted by Piper+Apr 22 2004, 09:32 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Piper @ Apr 22 2004, 09:32 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--WestCoastMole[/i]@Apr 18 2004, 10:14 AM
    [b] [b]The war in Iraq is different from Vietnam in one fundamental respect: A substantial portion of Americans (and others around the world) were in the streets protesting this venture before the shooting started. [/b]

    [/b][/quote]
    Substantial?

    A laughable statement. [/b][/quote]
    the use of "Substantial Proportion" is in my mind a poor choice of words. Substantial Numbers would be more accurate.

    The fact of the matter is most Americans didn&#39;t feel strongly at the outset of this fiasco to have an opinion that they wanted to act on. But what is revealing is the large number of people that did come out to protest prior to the initation of hostilities. What&#39;s eye opening is the pathetic performance of the Pro War Movement when they attempt ed the same feat.

    Let no mistake be made theoretical public opinion polls do nothing to determine the depth of feeling on such issues

    Historian Howard Zinn said it best the "support for this war by the American Public is a mile wide and an inch deep".

  14. #14
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    "Fabricated lies" and Howard Zinn quotes. Awesome.

    Tell me, hero, how,specifically, would you "alter" our "foreign policy" so as not to create more terrorists? Additionally, what would you do to confront the terrorists that already exist?

    Please, please tell me you have a more detailed understanding of the current threat we face than merely half-assed &#39;insights&#39; like saying we need to "alter our foreign policy." What, specifically, do you mean? How would you go about doing it? How would you know if what you are doing is correct? What if, after ALL of the those "alterations" terrorism still threatens us? Would you begin to change your strategy or would you simply keep &#39;altering&#39; our foreign policy until we stopped pissing off terrorists? Hey, if they exist at all then by definition WE are the ones to blame, right? When you catch your child stealing from the cookie jar the solution is to simply stop buying cookies, I suppose....

    Ah liberals, they think that humanity is truly this peaceful, blissful group that only turns violent and selfish when exposed to mistreatment or bad environments. All we need is dialogue, or understanding or communal property, or even no property at all...then we wouldn&#39;t need any laws or oppression and things like "crime" and "terrorism" would cease to exist in this wonderful, utopian society. Too bad human nature and all of history has shown that humanity is not peaceful and not altruistic and that some people cannot be reasoned with or placated and yes, some people do evil things even without being "victimized." People often do bad things b[i]ecause they can[/i]. That&#39;s it.

    Hey WCM - Do you blame society each and every time you hear about a minority youth committing a crime?

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