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Monday, August 29, 2005

All roads lead to Saigon?

Given the reappearance of Hanoi Jane and her fellow travellers seemingly desperate to reignite their fading stars through another war movement supported by a tiny fraction of the populace, below are a few links why Iraq now is not like Vietnam in nearly any respect other than it being a war. The only thing that remains the same is those who will stand on any side that isn't Western, regardless. Helen Clark's comments about Iraq/Vietnam demonstrate she has no interest in history, rather how she appears in history. You'd think after having helped condemn hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese to death, "reeducation" and exile old Jane would be a bit more careful. I wonder if in 30 years or so there will be another General Giap crediting Jane and George with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, or if they'll care even then.

Another Reason Iraq isn’t Vietnam
More war comparisons
Forgotten quagmire?

The final link wonders why compare to Vietnam, when in fact it is nothing like it:
Not that there's much of a parallel between a four day, in-and-out war and a protracted campaign like the present one, but isn't the recent military history of wars in Iraq at least as relevant as an older one in Vietnam?
It is most succinctly put in one piece above:
These sorts of comparisons are simply pundit fodder, something the braying asses of the media can use to fill time and make historically inaccurate points that fit their preconceived premises and agendas.

Posted by Chefen | 8/29/2005 02:20:00 AM

12 Comments:

Blogger Ackers1 said...

"another war movement supported by a tiny fraction of the populace" This must be the pro war movement you are talking about Chefen correct?

8/29/2005 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Whilst I agree Chefen that this is a different war in a different era only the historically blind could not fail to see some parallels. A few for you to consider.

1. Both wars were illegal acts of pre-emptive aggression unsanctioned by international law or world opinion.

2. Both wars were launched with deception. In Iraq it was the now proven phony WMD threat and contrived Saddam-Osama connection. In Vietnam, it was the fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident and the elections mandated by the Geneva agreement that were cancelled by Washington in l956 when the US feared Ho Chi Minh would win.

3. The government lied regularly in both wars. Back then, the lies were pronounced a "credibility gap." Today, they are considered acceptable "information warfare." In Saigon military briefers conducted discredited "5 O'Clock Follies" press conferences. In this war, the Pentagon spoon-fed info at a Hollywood style briefing center in Doha.

4. The US press was initially an enthusiastic cheerleader in both wars. When Vietnam protest grew and the war seen as a lost cause, the media frame changed. In Iraq today most of the media is trapped in hotel rooms. Only one side is covered now whereas in Vietnam, there was more reporting occasionally from the other. In Vietnam, the accent was on progress and "turned corners." The same is true in Iraq.

5. In both wars, prisoners were abused. In South Vietnam, thousands of captives were tortured in what were the called "tiger cages." Vietnamese POWs were often killed; In North Vietnam, some US POWs were abused after bombing civilians. In Iraq, POWs on both sides were also mistreated. It was US soldiers that first leaked major war crimes and abuses. In Vietnam, Ron Ridenour disclosed the My Lai Massacre. In Iraq, it was a soldier who first told investigators about the torture in Abu Ghraib prison. (Seymour Hersh the reporter who exposed My-Lai in Vietnam later exposed illegal abuses in Iraq.)

6. Illegal weapons were "deployed" in both wars. The US dropped napalm, used cluster bombs against civilians and sprayed toxic agent orange in Vietnam. Cluster bombs and updated Mark 77 napalm-like firebombs were dropped on Iraqis. Depleted uranium was added to the arsenal of prohibited weapons in Iraq.

7. Both wars claimed to be about promoting democracy. Vietnam staged elections and saw a succession of governments controlled by the US. come and go. Iraq has had one election so far in which most voters say they were casting ballots primarily to get the US to leave. The US has stage-managed Iraq's interim government. Exiles were brought back and put in power. Vietnam's Diem came from New Jersey, Iraq's Allawi from Britain.

8. Both wars claimed to be about noble international goals. Vietnam was pictured as a crusade against aggressive communism and falling dominos. Iraq was sold as a front in a global war on terrorism. Neither claim proved true.

9. An imperial drive for resource control and markets helped drive both interventions. Vietnam had rubber and manganese and rare minerals. Iraq has oil. In both wars, any economic agenda was officially denied and ignored by most media outlets.

10. Both wars took place in countries with cultures we never understood or spoke the language, Both involved "insurgents" whose military prowess was underestimated and misrepresented. In Vietnam, we called the "enemy" communists; in Iraq we call them foreign terrorists. (Soldiers had their own terms, "gooks" in Vietnam, "ragheads" in Iraq) In both counties, there was in fact an indigenous resistance that enjoyed popular support. (Both targeted and brutalised people they considered collaborators with the invaders just as our own Revolution went after Americans who backed the British.) In both wars, as in all wars, innocent civilians died in droves.

11. In both countries the US promised to help rebuild the damages caused by US bombing. In Vietnam, a $2 Billion presidential reconstruction pledge was not honored. In Iraq, the electricity and other services are still out in many areas. In both wars US companies and suppliers have profited handsomely; Brown &Root in Vietnam; Halliburton in Iraq, to cite but two.

12. In Vietnam, the Pentagon's counter-insurgency effort failed to "pacify" the countryside even with a half a million US soldiers "in country." The insurgency in Iraq is growing despite the best efforts of US soldiers. More have died since President Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished" than during the invasion.

The Vietnamese forced the US into negotiations for the Paris Peace Agreement. When the agreement was continually violated, they brilliantly staged a final offensive that surprised and routed a superior million-man Saigon Army.

8/29/2005 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chefen.....was that sound i just heard you being belted out of the ballpark..?

a definite home run, that one,..eh..?

phil(whoar.co.nz)

8/29/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

There is this thing about wars. They hardly ever go the way you want. A group of people always profit. People die. Prisoners are abused. On both sides there are demons and heroes.

A few of your major commonalities are not peculiar to the Iraq War or Vietnam War, and I think, waters down the point you are trying to make, although I guess providing a big list was the purpose.

Word War II saw widespread prisoner abuse on all sides.

Profiteering was rampant, and conspiracy theories abounded on the nature of supply, entry to the war.

Language appeared to be an issue. Many Germans, Italians, Russians and Japanese did not speak English. Perhaps war is more likely when we do not understand language and culture?

Governments lied and suppressed information.

We fire bombed, phosphor bombed, carpet bombed and nuked to end the war quicker.

There were divine purposes ascribed to the reason to end Hitler. We were right. It turns out Saddam is no Angel either.

With Iraq, we could argue that appeasement and containment had not worked. Both were tried, and the time for more appeasement and more containment had passed. As for illegal, we know exactly how "laws" can be used to stall for time so that the bad guys get away. We've seen the corruption in the UN, and we understand the moves of undemocratic countries to "use the system" against us.

The left want to link the war to all other "failed" wars. They do not want to acknowledge, even for a moment, any benefits that might accrue from ousting Saddam. Rather than making the most of a bad situation, it seems far more important to completely destroy a basically democratic country with a better track record than say Iraq, Iran, Russia, China.

Which of those countries will we be relying on to do a better job than America, once we have got them out of the way?

8/29/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous andrei said...

Thirty years after the fall of Saigon and the lefties are still crowing about their triumph.

They recycle old myths and rewrite history to make America the villian while totally ignoring the actual results their undermining of American policy brought.

Why no discussion of the re-education camps and the boat people, why no thought of the Cambodian killing fields.

The blood of millions of innocents lie on the hands of those who chose to force the abandonment of the Indochinese to evil of communism.

Once again these cretins want to abandon a people to tyranny.

They are moral cowards

8/29/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember Helen Clark go her start in politics when she protested on favour of communist oppression in Vietnam.

Some things never change


EXOCET

8/29/2005 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

"They are moral cowards "

Of course they are, Andrei. That defines the left--together with the selective and simplistic memory you see displayed in the comments by Ackers.

8/29/2005 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Been to Vietnam recently Andrei?

Of course the over 2 million deaths that were as much a result of the US intervention as any local circumstances we will just conveniently ignore as we dribble on about moral cowardice. I'm not at all sure what exactly moral cowardice is but you can almost guarantee those flinging the accusation around are about as spineless as the chickenhawks in the war party leading us on our triumphant march through the deserts of Iraq.

The interesting thing about Vietnam of course for those that have bothered to visit the place that is supposedly under the boot of those evil communists is how extarordinarily generous and hospitable Vietnamese people are. They hold few grudges against Westerners.

Thirty years after the end of the war, Vietnam continues to divide and haunt America far more than the country that lost 50 times as many people.....

8/29/2005 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

"In Vancouver the first Vietnamese refugees began arriving in 1975, the year the U.S. finally decided to pull out of Vietnam and end its two-decade-long war against the Communist government in North Vietnam. With the Americans out and Vietnam united, the Communists started targeting the urban and professional middle and upper classes in South Vietnam, confiscating homes and businesses, and sending selected individuals off to re-education camps. As the repression intensified, the number of refugees increased."

http://www.discovervancouver.com/GVB/vancouver-vietnamese.asp

The number of Vietnamese refugees admitted into the USA alone was about 995,000 according to one website. That excludes those who made it to Canada, Australia & NZ, or stayed in countries bordering on Vietnam.

The NV sound like just the sort of people Ackers would like - killing off or scaring away the capitalists.

And now where is Vietnam? Opening its arms to capitalist enterprises. Pity the communists wasted so many lives trying to impose a ridiculous utopian fantasy on their country in the first place.

8/29/2005 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous andrei said...

Ackers;
A while ago I was watching CNN. They were doing a Bird Flu story from Vietnnam. The reporter said and I kid you not

"yet another problem for this war ravaged country."

Now why is Vietnam still "war ravaged" 30 years after the fall of Saigon?

When you consider that 19 years after a
nuclear attack Japan was able to host the 1964 summer olympics and that South Korea was in a position to do the same in 1988 some 27 years after the end of hostilities in that country, there is something terribly wrong.

What might it be do you think?
Agent Orange?

Yes that must be it - it couldn't be the failure of communism to deliver, could it.

8/29/2005 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Chefen said...

Morning all,
What Andrei said.

8/29/2005 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Any analysis of Vietnam's post war period c.f. that of the Japanese simply in terms of the level of Western investment will give you the answer Andrei.

8/29/2005 07:50:00 PM  

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