On Wednesday August 23 President George Bush, speaking to the VFW convention in Kansas City, said this:
Finally, there’s Vietnam. This is a complex and painful subject for many Americans. 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…..
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.”
Bush, and his neo-con buddies, are trying to introduce another “reason” we need to stay in Iraq. He thinks that if we leave then Iraq will descend into chaos and it will encourage our “enemies”.
Iraq is a lot like Vietnam but not like Bush wants us to think.
Our work in Iraq is the result of arrogance and a lack of acknowledgement of a failed policy. President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamera knew their Vietnam policy was wrong and we wouldn’t “win” but were so worried about their pride that they allowed thousands of more US deaths. The Bush administration will not admit their policy has failed and their pride makes them come up with stories like Bush’s speech to the VFW.
In Vietnam, President Johnson believed that if more troops were sent in then we would win. Even after having 500,000 troops on the ground and winning the few conventional battles that North Vietnam tried, we still couldn’t win the non-conventional war that was the main focus of the Viet Cong. Just as in Iraq, conventional troops can’t win a non-conventional war no matter how many troops you have.
The Johnson administration supported, propped up, and manipulated a corrupt South Vietnam government. Just like in Vietnam, in Iraq, the civilian government has no power without the US troops keeping them protected. Instead of trying to form a government that would give the people the democracy we say we want it seems we want a government for our own purposes. It didn’t work in Vietnam and it won’t work in Iraq.
The Mahablog stated:
Vietnam and Iraq are similar in that they present the same paradox — that victory could equal defeat. By that I mean using enough military force to utterly crush the warring factions would amount to throwing away our political objectives. The operative phrase, I believe, is “Pyrrhic victory.” To those who continue to complain that we could have “won” in Vietnam, and could still “win” in Iraq, I say, of course. But this isn’t a game. Get over childish ideas about “victory” and “defeat” and see the bigger picture, for once.
Instead of talking about winning and losing, we should clearly understand what our objectives are in Iraq and then consider how those objectives might be achieved. Military “victory” and “defeat” are abstractions that don’t apply to the reality.
Before we got into Iraq, Bush and his cronies strongly claimed that it would not be another Vietnam. Now Bush wants us to believe it will be and it will be, just not the way he thinks.