Is the Lesson of Vietnam that We Should Stay in Iraq?
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In a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars President Bush, in a break with past practice, insisted that there there is a Vietnam analogy worth making with Iraq:
The tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech. So I'm going to limit myself to one argument that has particular significance today. Then as now, people argued the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end.
The argument that America's presence in Indochina was dangerous had a long pedigree. In 1955, long before the United States had entered the war, Graham Greene wrote a novel called,"The Quiet American." It was set in Saigon, and the main character was a young government agent named Alden Pyle. He was a symbol of American purpose and patriotism -- and dangerous naivete. Another character describes Alden this way:"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."
After America entered the Vietnam War, the Graham Greene argument gathered some steam. As a matter of fact, many argued that if we pulled out there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people.
In 1972, one antiwar senator put it this way:"What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos, whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they've never seen and may never heard of?" A columnist for The New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists:"It's difficult to imagine," he said,"how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." A headline on that story, date Phnom Penh, summed up the argument:"Indochina without Americans: For Most a Better Life."
The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.
Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America. (Applause.) 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."
Is he right? What do you think?
NYT: This War Is Not Like the Others — or Is It? NYT News Analysis: Historians Question Bush’s Reading of Lessons of Vietnam War for Iraq Chicago Tribune: More historians dismiss Bush's Vietnam analogy Jim Hoagland: Bush's Vietnam Blunder Jim Hoagland: Bush's Vietnam Blunder John Pilger: The Friends of Pol Pot Time Mag.: Bush's Risky Vietnam Gambit Max Boot: President Bush's analogy to Iraq is not inaccurate, just incomplete Matthew Rothschild: Bush Rewrites History of Vietnam War Matthew Yglesias: Why is George Bush suddenly making parallels between Iraq and Vietnam? Because he’s preparing to shift the blame for another disaster. Jamie Glazov, David Kaiser, Stephen J. Morris, Michael Rubin: Can Vietnam Teach Lessons Useful in Iraq? A Symposium William Schroeder: What President Bush Didn't Mention: The Misery Our Staying in Vietnam Caused Mark Moyar: The Vietnam history you haven't heard HNN Hot Topics: Iraq Analogies: It's Vietnam. It's Lebanon. It's Algeria. It's ... HNN Hot Topics: Vietnam Atrocities and War Crimes
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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007
"Is the Lesson of Vietnam that We Should Stay in Iraq?"
The answer to this question lies in another question:
"What did the USA achieve in Viet Nam???"
As fas as I can tell the VietNam episode proved the following:
1-The USA is NOT invincible.
2-Huge military hard ware imbalance does NOT determine the outcme of each and every armed conflict.
3-The American people will not accept to pay substantially, in blood and treasure, for an imperialist adventure
4-The American people, when made aware of what is being done in its name and/or of the cost that it is made to bear , will go against the wishes of the American ruling establishment.
5-The American people when substantially bloodied will revolt and reverse the course set for it by the American ruling establishment.
Hopefully the American people will stop the American aggression against Iraq before it is made to pay another 600000 American fatalities and several hundred thousnds physically and/or emotionally maimed casualties.
(How to pay for the American adventure in Iraq is another question!)
omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007
"... 600000 American .." should read 60000 etc
Dalek S Wu - 9/13/2007
There is one similarity between Vietnam and Iraq. Both are unconventional wars that simply cannot be understood in the framework of the WWII mentality that so many politicians and pundits hark back to every chance they get. The only way to truly understand Vietnam and Iraq is to read the following:
Sun Tzu's "The Art of War."
Dr. Bernard B. Fall's "Streets Without Joy."
Colonel Roger Trinquier's "Modern Warfare/Revolutionary Warfare."
Jean Lartéguy's "The Centurions"
The late Colonel David H. Hackworth's "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts"
Jack Holland and Susan Phoenix's "Phoenix Policing the Shadows: The Secret War against Terrorism in Northern Ireland."
General Paul Aussaresses' "The Battle of the Casbah"
and Tony Geraghty's "The Irish War: The Military History of a Domestic Conflict."
As well, any biography of Lord Kitchener which details his role in the South African War will help.
None of these books describe the Iraq War exactly to a T, but they explain it far better than just watching "The Sands of Iwo Jima," "Band of Brothers," and "Saving Private Ryan," could ever hope to.
There is, as Colonel Bacevich has pointed out on this site, one huge difference between Vietnam in Iraq. In Vietnam, there was, for all intents and purposes, one enemy, namely the forces of Ho Chi Minh in their various forms. In Iraq, there are several different partisan groups and lots of extortionists bandits disguising themselves as partisan groups. Therefore, those who have a solid understaning of the Vietnam, Algeria and Ulster wars should adjust accordingly.
Dalek_SWU - 9/13/2007
"These were much like the smirking skull of the "MACVSOG CIA" imbedded in US units in Vietnam"
This statement is problematic. The Studies and Observations Group (SOG) did not operate in the Republic of Vietnam. Their mission was to conduct reconnaissance and raids on enemy positions in "neutral" Laos and Cambodia, as well as ground-borne Ho Chi Minh trail interdiction. FYI, the Ho Chi Minh trail was not located in Vietnam. See "SOG: The Secret War of America's Commandos in Vietnam by Major John L. Plaster.
heather Burmeister - 9/1/2007
perhaps, but his speech sounds as if the pentagon papers never existed, and we don't have private corporations running around Iraq in soldier uniforms. I mean when we say bring our troops home, are we also talking about blackwater's troops?
Philip B. Plowe - 8/31/2007
It appears that what our President is saying is that both the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq were both colossal mistakes. I believe most would agree with that statement and I also believe that history will eventually reaffirm that truth.
So he then contends that to withdraw from Iraq in the same way we withdrew from Vietnam would result in the same kind of collapse and mass killings that occurred in Vietnam and Cambodia.
First, as others have alluded, there is limited indication that the largest tragedy following the Vietnam withdrawal, the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia, could have been prevented if the U.S. stayed in Vietnam.
However, there is evidence that the current Iraqi government could collapse under the strain of a revitalized Sunni insurgency and subsequent civil war following a complete U.S. troop withdrawal. That does not mean however that we should stay the course. There are solutions to this conflict besides an immediate troop withdrawal.
President Bush and his advisors seem far too intent on maintaining Iraq in its current political state when stability could best be achieved by dividing that country into a Republic of three distinct states; one for Kurds, one for the Sunnis and one for the Shiites. For all concerned, they are essentially separate nations right now except by name. Anything else drags this conflict out for several more generations.
Also, a gradual troop withdrawal could be done while still maintaining a presence in the region for future temporary police actions in conjunction with U.N. forces. This would maintain stability in the region while the U.S. military presence is incrementally drawn down.
Most importantly, our President should concern himself less with how history will perceive his war and his presidential legacy and more with coming up with real solutions to the mess he made.
Persse - 8/31/2007
Needless to say, I think that Mr Bush's analysis can only be most politely described as perverse. But thanks to him, we have new words in our vocabulary such as 'Abu Ghraib', 'Gitmo' and of course a new twist on the word debacle.
H. Parkhurst - 8/29/2007
It is sad but what happened after we left Vietnam; happened because we left. If we leave Iraq before the job is done,leaving a stable government, it will happen again. Will we ever learn?
Jeffrey Campbell - 8/29/2007
Mr. Kaye's presumption that the President's speech mangled history is far from obvious. Mr. Bush cited indisputable facts about the aftermath of Vietnam. His opponents have relied on hyperbole and argument from authority. At this point, the score is Bush 1, Anti-American Peaceniks 0.
Joel Kaye - 8/29/2007
I'm wondering who is to blame for Bush's torturing of history here. Clearly, he didn't come up with this himself. Is this what his advisors are telling him? Or is this just a speechwriter's gambit? It's not just wrong, it's upside down and reversed. It says that history can be read in any way anyone wants for any purpose. It's easy to blame the Bush White House, but I'm wondering whether our discipline, and we who practice it, bear any responsibility for this sponginess.
Walter J. Moeller - 8/27/2007
Ref Mr. Karr's facitious comments: It would be a lot worse if Allied troops were not there.
Ronald Dale Karr - 8/27/2007
Wouldn't it be terrible if there would be a blood bath in Iraq. Imagine! Bodies would be everywhere, dumped every day in the streets, with throats slit, tortured, shot. Thank God, sir, we haven't let that happen!
Ronald Dale Karr - 8/27/2007
[Above entry was cut off]
The most consistent excuse for slogging on in Vietnam was that if we pulled out a bloodbath would follow (never mind the fact that millions had already died). It didn't happen. Millions were killed by the Khmer Rouge, but this was hardly a consequence of the U.S. pullout (they had come to power as a result of U.S. intervention in Cambodia; and there were no U.S. troops stationed there, in any event). The boat people, the relocation camps, etc., hardly constitute a blood bath--compared to the millions who had already died and the millions more who didn't thanks to the U.S. withdrawl.
kislock - 8/27/2007
It is no exaggeration to say in the morning paper, I read almost daily. A Vietnam Veteran age 50 to 65 dies in Beaver County (PA). Beaver County has a large Vietnam vet population, I beleve that they are Dying at a Faster Pace than the WWII vet's, in the same age brackets.
To extending the Vietnam tragedy was Futitle!
Like wise the Soldiers of the Iraq invansion, will be Dying at a Younger age that the Vietnam Vets!!!
(Peacetime USMC vet)
P.S. someone do a study of the Vietnam vet and what the average age of their Deaths are, compared to the general population.
Ronald Dale Karr - 8/27/2007
The most consistent excuse for slogging on in Vietnam was that if we pulled out a bloodbath would follow (never mind the fact that millions had already died).
Jeffery Ewener - 8/27/2007
The President's logic is reminiscent of that of the gangster, who offers to sell you "protection" to make sure your establishment doesn't get destroyed. To him, the fact that he is the one fixing to destroy your establishment if you don't pay his price, is irrelevant. Bad things happen to people who don't pay up -- what more is there to say?
As a much decorated and honorable US marine once observed, war is a racket. Sometimes it's useful to modify the tale from time to time, but the operation remains fundamentally the same.
Daniel Rosenberg - 8/27/2007
3/4 of democrats authorized the use of force. However, the Bush Administration provided only partial information to Congress and the American people about what the true risks were from Iraq. They also understated the cost to the American people in lives and treasure. I believe Andrew Natsios said it would only cost at MOST 1.7 billion dollars (Nightline April 23, 2003). Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfolwitz said we would be greeted with flowers and candy.
Ultimately Bush decided to invade based on information that he may have known to be false at the time. He is the "Decider" and he must live with that mistake.
daniel mintz - 8/26/2007
If,five years ago, Saddam Hussein had warned the world that the U.S. might possess WMD's and might intervene in Latin America, he could have invaded America, killed millions of us, installed a "friendly" new government, and occupied us indefinitely.
Our conquests of Vietnam, Iraq, and countless others have been just that evil and much less defensible, considering that no nation on earth is a credible threat to us.
The lessons (and the real way to forestall terrorism) are that we must (1)apologize to all the peoples we have devastated, (2)withdraw all our troops from all hundred countries where they're now stationed, and (3)send out reparations of $300B+ per year to our victims.
We can tread the path of imperial Rome or that of modern Switzerland.
Damn Wren - 8/26/2007
Tet was a defeat for the Viet Cong, and the U.S. politicians turned it into a victory for them.
It's tempting to write of the 'fog of war' when it comes to trying to sort out the real picture of facts on the ground -- given the rush to defeat on the part of Democrats and the media, the substance obscuring the picture is quite a bit thicker.
There's quite a bit more national and strategic interest in the case of Iraq than there was in Viet Nam. It apparently is too much to ask for Democrats and the media to refrain from gratuitously reinforcing the worst prejudices of Muslims about America and our foreign policy.
Bush is right, but to people who still think he STOLE THE ELECTION, he will never be legitimate. And they are the squeakiest wheels at the moment.
DeWayne Edward Benson - 8/26/2007
The lesson of Vietnam as in Iraq is that you cannot make an entire nation of people accept being misused and sold to Int'l-entities. The greater majority of Vietnamese and today the Iraqi people in majority are demonstrating against this fake democracy ploy.
In Vietnam as in Iraq today, the vast majority of South Vietnamese as well as (enemy) North Vietnamese wanted the aggressor nation of Corp-America out of Vietnam. During the occupation years American servicemen began wearing secret military patches that displayed the animosity developing against the South Vietnamese people.
I put together an article and display some of the military patches that were worn by US servicemen, also the MACVSOG skull emblem-patch of the CIA who developed the Pheonix and Project-x torture manuals. They can be observed in my article:
DeWayne Edward Benson - 8/26/2007
Unlike Iraq that was important in stopping Saddam from his year-2000 threat of throwing out the US-Dollar as note of oil-exchange (losing control of our Check Kiting Dollar as World Market Note), Vietnam was during the Cold War with Russia, and essentially the same struggle for dominance as remaining World-Empire.
At present we get at most 14-15% of (our) oil from the Middle East, giving a better understanding why our dominating the World has it's greatest importance as the US-Dollar remaining Int'l-Note of exchange.
If Asia and Europe doiminated the Middle East oil reserves, you would see an immediate run on the US Treasury. This would be much like the same FIAT check-kiting scheme of Germany after WWI, when investors got nervous, they made a run on the German Treasury. The result was needing a wheel-borrow of German funny-money to buy a loaf of bread.
With the US Corp-Empire (factories) now spread out in 3rd-World nations like Communist China, any shakiness of the US (FIAT) Dollar, and Corp-Empire in America can kiss their foriegn investments (where most of their profits are now made possible), good-bye.
DeWayne Edward Benson - 8/26/2007
The 'Shadow-Corp-Gov' in America has apparently done a great job in re-writing the atrocity some call the Police-Action and others called a war in Vietnam.
Some believe these atrocities continued in Vietnam after the Corp-Gov pulled tail, re-education schools are a shade different than Corp-Mercenary Op's now who outnumber British military in Iraq. These apparently the same that believe the Salvadore Option of the Pentagon being used in Iraq today is a Secretarian War.
Perhaps the biggest give-away regarding the atrocities of the Vietnam and Iraq police action's, are the secret US military-patches that units and others began wearing in Vietnam. These displayed different grotesque skulls, swords/axes dripping blood, and a similar variety of evil. These were much like the smirking skull of the "MACVSOG CIA" imbedded in US units in Vietnam, who developed the Torture and Assassination manuals that the Pentagon uses to this day.
I have given up that Americans will ever want to know the (truth) about the American Empire, or the methods used to perpetuate this Empire.
David McNeil - 8/26/2007
The "lesson of Indochina" is that because there was no legitimate national interest (or casus belli) involved, getting involved there was a mistake, escalation (or "surge") was a worse mistake (because by then intelligent observers had recognized and publicized the mistake), as was delaying the departure of combat troops.
For the aftermath, we ought also to consider the lessons of Palestine and Yugoslavia....
Walter J. Moeller - 8/25/2007
President Bush is correct: when we pull out there will be a blood bath. Everyone who helped us, or who tried to get along, will suffer the consequences. The major difference here is that the killing will be done in the name of religion in an epic struggle for power. In addition, Iran will no longer be covert in their actions nor will Syria. There is a possibility of a real conflagration across the Middle East. Iraq will be torn apart. Other consequences and repercussions will follow. We must stay the course.
On a personal note: Yes, I an a VN veteran w/two tours, both as an Infantry Officer. My son was in both wars in Iraq. Of my two grandsons, one is preparing for his 2nd tour; the other returns from vic Seoul Korea in the next month or so.
Ezra Shilling - 8/25/2007
The "grevious error" looks to me like a shrewd judgement of spineless double-faced Democrats.
Howard - 8/25/2007
I was an adult during the Vietnam War. It was terrible. A hundred or more bodies a week arriving home. There was no end in sight. Does the President really believe that the results would have been different if more than 100, 000 American had been killed, rather than "only" 58,000? The toll of Americans dead in Iraq will probably pass 4,000 before the end of the year. Will another 4, or 6,000 dead make things better? Support our troops, Mr. President. Bring them home now!
Bryan Haught - 8/25/2007
Did the withdrawal of US forces from Indochina have much to do with the Khmer Rouge taking over Cambodia? The speech specifically alludes to Khmer Rouge atrocities, but the US could hardly have prevented the Khmer Rouge from taking over a country we were never officially in to begin with...in fact, if we had still been fighting in Viet Nam in 1975 (when the Khmer Rouge took over) it is likely that neither the US nor the ARVN could have invaded Cambodia to drive them out, as the Vietnamese army (formerly NVA) finally did in 1979.
Caroline Hill - 8/25/2007
I couldn't believe it when Bush made this analogy after denying its applicability for all these years. And the WAY that he made it. Jon Stewart nailed him on the Daily Show Thurs night, and he fully deserved to be nailed.
If there is a relevant analogy it is that we need to get out ASAP.
dr. george shriver - 8/25/2007
The lesson of Vietnam is that we never should have been there in the first place. That is the lesson--- we never should have been in Iraq in the first place. The Bush administration has never apologized for their grievous error. There is no such thing as "victory" in either case, for both were unforgiveable errors !! The Bush team made one of the greatest blunders ever in U.S. foreign affairs history. Unfortunately, they will never admit to this. How arrogant and ignorant they are. Might we also say that they are unpatriotic as well, since they did such a disservice to our nation ? Indeed, they were and are unpatriotic !
Michele - 8/25/2007
Yes, it was the Domino Theory -- that paranoid idea that countries would fall like dominoes in the wake of the U.S.S.R.'s (Russia's) push to further Communism's stronghold. I never saw any other reason, such as natural resources, for meddling in Viet Nam, which began with advisors from Eisenhower's administration, and continued with advisors, then troops, throughout the administrations of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. So the damage was equal: Two Republicans and two Democrats. We didn't belong in Viet Nam, and we don't belong in Iraq...or Iran, either.
"Your point makes no sense for Vietnam. What resources did we want from Vietnam?"
Didn't the domino theory imply that South Vetman was seen as a strategic resource by at least three presidents?
James W Loewen - 8/25/2007
Our concocted govt. in Vietnam had fallen apart. Indeed, we had had some Vietnamese generals oust our chosen puppet, Diem. The only really popular leader in all of Vietnam, including the southern half, was Ho Chi Minh, a fact acknowledged by Dwight Eisenhower before we ever sent massive troops to the place. So on whose behalf were we there?
Luckily for Bush, the analogy between Vietnam and Iraq is imperfect, although he has done from day one what he could to make Iraq into an equally deep quagmire for us.
Thomas Zoumaras - 8/25/2007
Bush proved Wednesday that he misuses or misunderstands information, current and historical. Bush did not note that the South Vietnamese government never united the Vietnamese people behind the war effort, never fielded an effective military, and never overcame the infiltration of its bureaucracy by those determined to see the government fall or to exploit it (there were numerous other failures too).
He missed or ignored all of this at a time when the Malaki regime is the subject of bipartisan criticism, and the value of the surge strategy is in doubt. He also failed to note that the US military sacrificed significantly to buy the Republic of Vietnam the time necessary to overcome its shortcomings. More than 500,000 military personnel and unprecedented billions of dollars were not enough to bolster the SV government before Johnson made the decision not to escalate US ground operations following Tet. US escalation beginning in 1965 never could accomplish its mission given the Diems, Kys, and Thieus even though the US debilitated its military and drained its economic resources to the point that the Cold War consensus collapsed.
Finally, instead of the dominos falling as predicted, communist regimes manifested their nationalist interests and fought each other (Vietnam/Cambodia, and Vietnam/China). To be sure there were intolerable human rights violations such as the Vietnamese reeducation centers and the Khmer Rouge genocide, but Southeast Asians eventually stabilized their region in the absence of US intervention according to their own design. The consequence has not been communist expansionism but Vietnamese and other regimes beginning to adopt Western trade policies and establishing formal diplomatic relations with the US. Bush's failure to process this kind of information illustrates why his foreign policy has been flawed from the beginning. He thinks in simplistic ideological terms, acts on those thoughts, and absorbs conflicting information with the greatest reluctance, if at all.
Mike Campbell - 8/25/2007
This is a joke, right? If we had "stayed the course" in Vietnam, we would still be there. What nation have we ever re-made in our image -- and please don't be silly and say Germany or Japan after World War II. To "win" in Iraq would require a change in the entire culture of the country and the region. Do we have that much time or that much blood and money?
Glenn Rodden - 8/24/2007
Why is President Bush making this analogy now? Bush and his supporters have rejected this analogy for four years, so why make the analogy now?
John M Shaw - 8/24/2007
While everyone has accurately pointed out all the flaws in President Bush’s inept historical analogies between
the U.S. invasions of Viet Nam and Iraq, perhaps it would be useful to also show how they are similar.
Of course President Bush would never acknowledge these perilous parallels (presented as a “top ten” list).
1) U.S. lack of historical and cultural knowledge about the rest of the world
go back and read Fire in the Lake (it’s only been in print for 30+ years)
U.S. totally and tragically misunderstood the realities (especially religious) of Viet Nam and Iraq
2) U.S. monolithic worldview and monolithic enemy = exaggerated fears and threats
V – communism;
I – “axis of evil” (not terrorism, not al-Quaeda)
both ignored internal nationalism and external regional balance of power politics
both misidentified the “enemy” and inflated threat-level to U.S. national security or “interests”
3) U.S. fear-mongering and unfounded ideology
V – domino theory (if one nation in Southeast Asia went communist, all would topple)
I – regime change (reverse domino theory: if one nation in the Middle East became a democracy,all would follow )
4) U.S. unilateralism (coalition members were not partners, even the U.K.)
5) U.S. false pretexts for invasion
V – Gulf of Tonkin
I - WMDs
6) U.S. assumptions about using military force to achieve ill-defined political ends
all people want “freedom,” but it is not a universal “one-size-fits-all” concept (in any one country – even the U.S. – let alone disparate nations and cultures)
all people resent invasion, conquest, occupiers/occupations and will do their utmost to repel foreigners
sovereignty and legitimacy matter
illegitimate and unpopular proxy gov’ts (micro-managed by U.S. embassies/bureaucrats) have neither sovereignty (i.e., physical control or political efficacy) or legitimacy in the “hearts and minds” of the vast majority of the people
this reality – reinforced by a determined insurgency - cannot be altered or "won" militarily
7) U.S. lack of any viable postwar political strategy
achieving “success” or “winning” are goals – but not strategies to achieve those ends
8) U.S. demonizing of domestic dissent as unpatriotic; undermining of civil liberties at home
9) U.S. unsustainable financial costs and their negative long-term economic consequences
10) Viet Nam and Iraq suffer disastrous environmental consequences
Thomas Hagedorn - 8/24/2007
"when in fact all we want is their resources." - Your point is partially valid for Iraq, though I think that nation was a much bigger supplier to other nations before even 1990. And if that was our plan there, we don't seem too aggressive about following up.
Your point makes no sense for Vietnam. What resources did we want from Vietnam? Rice doesn't seem real popular at my local McDonald's.
Dennis - 8/24/2007
When all is said in done -
We didn’t belong in Vietnam
And we didn’t belong in Iraq.
There is no winning when the whole basis of your war is so wrong.
American’s need to learn not to go around the world destroying other people’s lives over trumped up reasons when in fact all we want is their resources.
The figure for American’s in Vietnam usually sited is 57,000; Vietnamese? 4 million! And in Iraq, what will it be? 4,000 American soldiers; how many Iraqi men, women, children, and families? For what?
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 8/23/2007
It was refreshing to hear President Bush mention the truth about the Vietnam aftermath--the killing fields, the boat people, and re-education camps. We are fortunate to have this man in the bully pulpit today.
Thomas Hagedorn - 8/23/2007
After all these years (I am 59) and all the ink and bits and bytes that have been spent investigating, debating,and opining about Vietman, I am still not sure which side (anti-War or pro-War) was "right."
But it is clear to me that Graham Greene's "Quiet American" accurately describes our gross naivete about Vietnam and the Vietnamese. Similarly, Bush is right that the abandonment of the South Vietnamese and the Cambodians by a Democrat Congress caused incredible human suffering (a good friend of mine , by all rights, should have been killed in the "last battle of Vietnam" off the coast of Cambodia by the murderous Kymer Rouge).
It is quite clear that Bush has shown the same level of incredible misunderstanding of Iraq and the people of Iraq that we displayed in Southeast Asia.
And it is also clear that an abrupt pullout would lead to an incredible loss of life and perhaps even greater catastrophies in the future for the US. We might have to go back to the region and fight a much tougher battle. The Democrats today know this also. They are trying to placate their more radical supporters who want an immediate pullout with some anti-Bush rhetoric, while at the same time taking no real actions to make this happen. The rhetoric has not worked on their supporters, gauging from a recent Gallop Poll. Congress has its lowest popularity rating EVER, lower even than Bush's!
I frankly will admit I don't know what the answer is. I do know that to simply say pull out the troops now, without consideration of the consequences would be foolish. We won the war, we lost the "peace", let's don't screw up the withdrawal.