Vietnam comparison

Bush to invoke Vietnam in arguing against Iraq pullout

On Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri, Bush will tell members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that “then, as now, people argued that the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end,” according to speech excerpts released Tuesday by the White House.

“Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left,” Bush will say.

“Whatever your position in 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,’ ” the president will say.

Harry Reid, of course, will have none of it. He’s above Vietnam comparisons:

“President Bush’s attempt to compare the war in Iraq to past military conflicts in East Asia ignores the fundamental difference between the two. Our nation was misled by the Bush Administration in an effort to gain support for the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, leading to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our history.”

Thank goodness Reid isn’t going to put up with Vietnam comparisons.

Reid in April, during his ‘this war is lost’ raving:

Reid drew a parallel with former US president Lyndon Johnson who decided to deploy more troops in Vietnam some 40 years ago when 24,000 US troops had already been killed.

“Johnson did not want a war loss on his watch, so he surged in Vietnam. After the surge was over, we added 34,000 to the 24,000 who died in Vietnam,” Reid said.

I don’t get it. Is Reid suddenly hoping that everyone will agree that comparing Iraq to Vietnam is unfair? I can’t wait to see the whining from anti-Bush folks over his comparison.

Meanwhile, here’s part of my The Speech Bush Should Give from earlier in April:

Many commentators and pundits are fond of comparing the situation in Iraq to the war in Vietnam. While some of these comparisons are valid, many of them simply do not hold water. But if playing Vietnam games is what gets everyone’s attention, I’ve got a Vietnam analogy for you: In the decade following our withdrawal from Vietnam in the early 1970s, over ONE MILLION civilians were killed by Communist forces in the region. Some of these killings were retaliation for choosing to stand with America during the war. Some of these killings were politically motivated. But many of the murders were committed simply because killing is how the enemy we fought in Vietnam interacts with the rest of the world; death and destruction are the language they use to communicate with those who do not convert to their cause.

THAT is what will happen in Iraq if we allow the extremists and the terrorists free reign. Perhaps a million dead, or more, because America decided that it was just taking too long.

I recognize that many folks have been opposed to the invasion of Iraq from the start, and I recognize that some former supporters are opposed now. I recognize that some of the reasons for this opposition are valid. But it would be refreshing if these same folks would at least acknowledge the severe damage that a defeat in Iraq would bring to the US and its military, the cost to the region and world that would result, and the savagery on the streets of Iraq that would follow our troops’ withdrawal.

I would at least respect someone for saying “I realize that withdrawal from Iraq will result in the defeat of the US military and probably derail the entire war against terrorism. I recognize that the political influence of the US and the fear of our military will more or less vanish over night, and that future military operations of any kind will be severely hampered due to this. I am aware that our defeat in Iraq will mean that we will negotiate from a place of weakness for at least a decade, and that no one will probably ever trust us or our military again. I also know that leaving Iraq before it is secure means that millions of Iraqis will be killed, either because they helped us or supported the new Iraqi government, because they belong to the wrong religious sect or tribe, or merely because they were caught within the blast radius of the massive violence that will engulf Iraq after US troops leave. I understand that this violence will far surpass anything we’ve seen in Iraq so far, and that it won’t be a “wave” of days or weeks or even months, but an ongoing war against those unable to defend themselves that will last until the barbarians have killed or driven off everyone they don’t like. I understand all of this and I still believe that pulling out now is the right thing to do.”

I wouldn’t agree, of course, but at least they’d have the courage to stand up and say it. Instead, we get these morons who like to pretend that we’re dumb enough to ignore the things they ignore.


  1. I agree that pulling out of Iraq would be an awful screwup of an already horribly run campaign. However, the parallels with Vietnam are now more appropriate than ever given that this administration has run this campaign in much the same way as Vietnam was managed. See if this rings a bell: We have a micromanaged war, with decisions being taken away from the ‘generals’ on the ground and all decidin’ being done in D.C.. Combine that with a decision to go to war in the first place with Congress being sold on the idea that we’d go in with fewer troops (many fewer) than the generals and Joint Chiefs requested with the explanation that we’ll use high technology to compensate. At the same time, we are drastically cutting funding for the soldiers health benefits, blaming how we got into the mess on the CIA and have no real strategy on how to get out. 1960 or 2002…. you tell me.

  2. We have a micromanaged war, with decisions being taken away from the ‘generals’ on the ground and all decidin’ being done in D.C Exactly. That’s why Reid wants to know what General Petreaus has to say rather than worry about what Senators think. Are we watching the same war?

  3. Those who want an immediate pull-out have a much colder heart than me (and I’m pretty cold-hearted). Rwanda would look like Boy Scout camp compared to what will happen. Once the dust settles, Iraq would be Terrorstan run by Iran and Syria.

  4. The Dems want to micromanage the war just like they did Vietnam. They use to say we needed several hundred thousand troops to win the war, though a vast army did general Westmoreland little good. They want to abandon the Iraqis just like they did the South Vietnamese. This war is like Vietnam only because the Left has made it that way. It could just as well be 1918, as in the Great War, with the Coalition holding on until the Iraq Army steps up. The so called Tet which everyone is expecting from Al Qaeda any day now, could just as easily be our Battle of the Bulge. It’s mostly a matter of your point of view.

  5. Murdoc, You might also notice that Gen. Petreaus’s findings are *already* being mitigated by the Bush administration before the final report is out. Add that on top of our engineering of the Maliki government and we are looking more and more like Ngo Dinh Diem’s government every day. Remember that we tried to remove him too just like we are starting to lean towards with Maliki. I predict that if we continue down this road, without fundamental changes in how the war is being managed, the spectre of a Cambodia like situation with the Khmer Rouge will haunt us once again…

  6. Mike, Republican, Democrat….. it does not matter here what your political leanings are. We’re in a foreign policy sinking boat and you are trying to blame the folks on the left side of the boat while the folks on the left are blaming the right. It does not fscking matter who is to blame at this point. The boat is sinking… If we are to resolve this, we need to start making real sacrifices and fix the situation across parties without resorting to the Beltway Blame Game.

  7. BWJones: You’re the one who said the generals weren’t making the decisions, right? I say you’re wrong. I also say the Surrendacrats think they know better than the generals. You might also notice that Gen. Petreaus’s findings are *already* being mitigated by the Bush administration before the final report is out. Unlike Reid, who said months ago that he wouldn’t believe any good news in the report because he knew better. Bush is playing political games with the report? Wow. Shocker. Who would have ever guessed? Reid is playing games, too, except he’s basing his games on his own imagination. At least Bush is spinning good source material. Reid is spinning crap.

  8. Murdoc, I agree with you and am not arguing politics with you here. Both sides have royally screwed this one. I agree that Reid is clueless here, but I also maintain that Bush is too. He is a non-learnin’, willfully ignorant individual here who has done this nation harm. And if you think that the generals are the ones making the decisions, why is it that we went to war with 50,000 of the 300,000-400,000 that the generals wanted in the first place. The deal is that they *knew* that we could go in a lay waste to the infrastructure, but after that it would be an occupation and for that, technology simply does not cut it. You need boots on the ground. What I want to see happen is a fundamental shift in how we are handling things over there. We need to start realizing that things are not being managed well and we are simply exporting our way of doing things without consideration of the long term consequences. Take for instance our exporting of the war on drugs to Afghanistan. Rather than destroying all of the opium crop and taking the livelihood away from the farmers, we ought to be supporting them, building irrigation, providing roads and distribution mechanisms along with security and letting them make the biggest profit off of opium production the world has ever seen. All that pure opium could then be sold to international pharma companies who are now having to create synthetic opiates are great cost and impact on the environment. Think differently about how to solve these problems!

  9. BWJones: I’ve linked in the past to posts/articles suggesting using the Afghan opium for legit purposes, and I fully support it. I’ve long been skeptical that anything productive can be done for Afghan society because there’s no money to be made. If opium through legal channels can do that, I say let’s give it a look. I can’t seem to find my post, though. It was a couple of years ago, I think, off of something I saw on Instapundit. As for troop levels and who’s calling the shots, I could possibly agree that politicals were doing so 2004-2005, and that political pressure made the generals do what they did for most of 2004-2006. I don’t think that’s the case today. Not enough troops: I agree. I say surge in a couple of more brigades if needed. To support this, grow the Army by 2 or 3 divisions. I don’t think flooding the place with another 100,000 troops (even if we really had them) would have made a big difference, though, considering what the strategy and tactics of 2006 were. We were in sitting duck mode for most of last year. Petraeus isn’t in sitting duck mode.

  10. This war was messed up from the start. It has been pushed by neo conservative think tanks since at least 1998 and was set into motion by piggybacking on top of the outrage felt afer 9-11. I have heard so many reasons for why we went and what our objectives were that it is almost too hard to keep track of anymore. Now these guys are talking about bombing Iran and possibly Syra. Unbelievable, especially given we are so stretched that we cannot maintain the current surge in Iraq beyond April 2008. Blame the democrats or surrendcrats all you want. The past 30 years has taught us they are not the ones to be trusted on national security, and I don’t. But, I was brought up to believe republicans were. They learned the lessons of vietnam. We would never fight a war again without a clear objective, a clearly defined exit strategy, overwhelming use of force and letting the commanders on the ground make the calls. As far as credibility around the world, I think we have already given our foes enough confidence that our powers are limited. Unlike 1991 I don’t think our potential enemies are afraid anymore.

  11. So yeah, the USA pulled out of Vietnam, that became all socialist…but did the Cold War was lost by that? Did the Soviet Union became any more powerful? Socialism was extremely flawed since the beginning. So it didnt matter how many countries could have become socialists. So yeah, the best cure to socialism was the good old time. I believe that as long as the West keeps its values (democracy, freedom, etc), it will be always ahead of any country countrolled by some totalitarian form of gov.

  12. So yeah, the USA pulled out of Vietnam, that became all socialist…but did the Cold War was lost by that? Did the Soviet Union became any more powerful?’ I’m far more concerned about the death, destruction and repression following the withdrawal and betrayal of South Vietnam than I am about any ‘cold war’ or the Soviet Union. I care more about people than I do ideologies. Of course, some ideologies like communism treat people terribly, so that makes me hostile to them. But ultimately it’s a question of how to benefit people the most.

  13. As far as credibility around the world, I think we have already given our foes enough confidence that our powers are limited. Unlike 1991 I don’t think our potential enemies are afraid anymore.’ My dad, who is pretty left-wing, says that the problem with the USA’s use of the military is, roughly, ‘they’re never willing to do what they need to do to actually win, and so it drags on’. He said that about Vietnam (and I agree), and he says that about Iraq. So maybe the problem isn’t that people think that the whole war was misconceived, but rather that you are weak because you spend so much time bickering amongst yourselves rather than concentrating on actually defeating the enemies? You know what.. if Iran really is providing material aid to terrorists in Iraq and there is some proof… they should suffer some consequences. Blow up some training camps or some ammo stockpiles or something. I don’t think anybody other than the Mullahs or their cronies will mind. Nobody who matters, anyway. So yeah, if you want to be taken seriously, then behave seriously.

  14. Nicholas, you suggested Iran should suffer consequences if they are supporting terrorists in Iraq. What should happen to China given several recent reports indicating they are doing the same?

  15. Nicholas, your dad is a wise man. I can’t believe Bush is doing this. He is telling us, I got you into another Vietnam, and now you don’t dare get out.

  16. spacey, the same I guess. But the more rational the country you are dealing with, and the more they have to lose (trade, etc.) the more you can exert non-military pressure in order to attempt to get them to do what you want diplomatically. So, I think if China is being nefarious, it will be possible to negotiate a reasonable solution. I doubt the same is true for Iran, for a few reasons. One, even if we do negotiate something with them, there’s basically nothing holding them to whatever they agree. And two, there’s little non-military pressure that can be applied. I don’t think either of those are true with China. We’re too interdependent with them, and they know it. In other words, we should play chess, not checkers, but if we have to take a pawn, we should do it.