Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Political Rantlet for Saturday Morning

Iraq is not Vietnam. Nowhere near it. Let me lay out the stark differences.

In Vietnam, the US picked up the reins from a dying colonial regime which had been fighting a widely popular insurgency. That insurgency had mass appeal because Vietnam had been ruled by foreign powers for over 100 years. When the US decided to become the new colonial overlord, it immediately subverted planned elections because they knew the wrong side would win (those fighting for indepedence). The US then fought a near genocidal war in three countries against peasant populations. They dropped more tonnage of bombs on those nations than were dropped in the entire Pacific theater of WWII. US casualties were miniscule compared to the mountain of rotting Asia bodies created by US aggression. Estimates of southeast Asian dead could top the four million mark, while only 58,000 Americans died. Even today, popular, educated discourse is about how much the US suffered at the hands of the Vietnamese, and how the US "lost" the war, despite the fact that the US economy and infrastructure remained healthy and functional while the Vietnamese were left with millions dead and carcinogens in their rice patties.

In Iraq, the US invaded a country against international law based on false pretenses. The US took over from no colonial entity. Compared to Vietnam, it's laughable that the pissants blowing up cars are called an "insurgency". They have no popular appeal. In Iraq, the US quickly started working with the many communists that had opposed a fascist regime. It's hard to even mention "winning" or "losing" because the US is not fighting any organized broad-based resistence. As opposed to Vietnam, the US did not subvert bona fide elections, but held them. The legitimacy of the elections was seen by the number of people who turned out. While the media spun it as if the people risked their lives to vote, the facts tell a different story: the pissant murderers who blow up cars are such a minority that it likely was not a huge risk to go to the voting booths. As with all US-run wars, the number of non-American dead is unimportant to policy-makers; a fetid mountain of foreign corpses could rival Mt. Everest and the focus would still be on how much the US has suffered with its 2,000 some-odd cadavers.

The US shouldn't leave Iraq immediately. Whatever your opinion on our motives for going into Iraq, to leave now would be adding insult to injury. There isn't any army or massive organized political movement waiting to take over like Vietnam. Elections have shown that there's a popular will to have a stable country. Iraq has unorganized, unmotivated forces; the iron fist of the US is needed until Iraq has its own. As Mao Tse Tung once said, "All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Until Iraq has a level hand on that gun, we can't leave. It's always been quick and easy for my fellow leftists to oppose war prima facie. A more difficult stance would be to recognize and accept the present reality.
Very informative. Thank you.

You know who really steam my beans? The gullible weekend warhawks who have suddenly decided they oppose the war after supporting it. WTF!?!?!

2000 dead? What did they think war was? A damn quilting bee? If we get out with 5000 dead and a pro-western democratic state it's a bargain.
I'm just glad I don't need to have a firm public opinion on when we should leave Iraq, because my thoughts change daily.

I agree with you on this: that the fact that we should never have invaded does not imply we should now pull out immediately.

However, I'm not convinced at this point that our continued presence is leading towards increased stability... and I'm wary of the seductiveness of the permanent war, where you need carefully reasoned
justifications to declare peace.
There's very little chance we'll get out with a pro-western state no matter how high the casualties mount.

Sweeping assertions that Iraq is like Vietnam should be combatted, as you do, LB, but here's one similarity, re the elections. From the NYT, 1967:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :

Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.
Wow Mass,

You've done your research. Actually I wasn't talking about the 1967 election in the South. I was talking about the election that was planned at the Paris peace accords in 1954. The plan was to temporarily divide Vietnam into two countries and hold elections in 1956 to re-unify the country. The US undermined those elections because the US knew the wrong side would win.

Iraq is not a divided country. The elections were held throughout and the turnout was great. It's not like the US split up the country and excluded half from participating.

As to the "pro-western state" thing, take the Cold War. The whole goal was to install as many pro-western states as possible. The US was able to do that with tens of countries without going to war. A few rigged elections and CIA-backed coups were all that was needed. I think the US will have no problem keeping a pro-western state in power in Iraq. Actually, that's probably a more important goal for policy-makers than having a democracy!
I agree with you that our leaders are more interested in installing a pro-western puppet government than a democracy, and as you note that has been our modus operandi since at least WWII.

I just enjoy calling bullshit on those leaders when they hypocritically mouth the words "democracy."
"Democracy", when used in a foreign policy sense, just means "Whatever the US wants".
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