Monday, January 09, 2006

Which war the bigger mistake?

Hello infidels and shahids,

For those against the war in Iraq, which has been the bigger mistake: Vietnam, or Iraq? Why?

For those in favor of the war with Iraq, I ask if we should have gone to war in Vietnam? Your thoughts, please?

14 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Good question. I guess if you asked the 4-5 million Vietnamese, Laoations and Cambodians who were killed, they would probably vote for Vietnam; and if you asked the 50-60 thousand Iraqis killed so far, they would choose Iraq. On the other hand, careful enough attention was paid to the intelligence back then to determine, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there actually were communists in Vietnam. So it's sort of a toss-up.

7:34 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

" I guess if you asked the 4-5 million Vietnamese, Laoations and Cambodians who were killed, they would probably vote for Vietnam"

Don't forget to ask the dead of the Cambodian "Killing Fields" or those happy Vietnamese who got "re-educated", or those who ended up fleeing the country on boats in pirate/shark infested waters...

9:31 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Jeff, how do arrive at "50-60 thousand Iraqis killed so far"?

While nobody knows for sure I find this to be a pretty good estimate.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"For those against the war in Iraq, which has been the bigger mistake: Vietnam, or Iraq?"

The question presupposes that someone against the war in Iraq would also automatically be against the war in Vietnam, or at least consider it a "mistake." I don't think it'd be too hard to find all sorts of people - especially among conservatives - who supported our military excursion in Indochina, and are opposed to our presence in Iraq.

Body counts aside, I think it's a little early to compare the two. In terms of the polarizing effect on our country's citizens, I think Iraq has eclipsed Vietnam. Then again, I was but a wee toddler when Nixon resigned; book club blogs back then may have been just as divided.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Don't forget to ask the dead of the Cambodian "Killing Fields" or those happy Vietnamese who got "re-educated", or those who ended up fleeing the country on boats in pirate/shark infested waters..."

Do you think Pol Pot would have gotten anywhere without the social dislocation created by the secret war? I think it's unlikely to the point of absurd. As for the re-educated and those eaten by sharks, I'm pretty sure they would have viewed the Vietnam war as the bigger catastrophe as well.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

mk: "While nobody knows for sure I find this to be a pretty good estimate."

Besides keeping Jeff honest, what exactly is the point of quibbling over body counts? Does 27-31,000 represent a more acceptable level of civilian deaths? At what point does it become unconscionable - the 50-60,000 Jeff cited? And isn't the fact that they're dead more worth debating than how many of them are dead?

Ten thousand here, ten thousand there - pretty soon you're talking about real dead people.

If you don't want to answer the question about Vietnam vs Iraq, that's cool - but a diversionary misdirect about body counts? That's cheap.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Don't even try to keep me honest--it'll never happen, so long as there are thin-skinned intellectuals like Juan Cole out there to give a patina of legitimacy to my leftists delusions.

As for the 50-60 thousand number: oops. I meant to write 30-60 thousand, the larger number having been pulled out of my ass to compensate for Bush's history of lies, obfuscations, and outlandish underestimation of the human and monetary costs of his Iraq venture.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

And re: body counts - what about all those Iraqis left crippled, maimed, and mentally botched by this war? If they run at the same proportion of maimed-to-killed that US soldiers do, the numbers, even by conservative estimates, must be in the 100,000's. The Iraqis don't have all those great medical benefits our veterans are generously given.

Of course, that assumes they WILL be given those benefits - an assumption liberal economist Stiglitz significantly makes in his $2,000,000,000,000 war cost estimate. I guess we could just screw over these crippled veterans and save ourselves a couple hundred billion. It'd sort of be like a tax cut!

Vietnamese and Cambodian societies were decimated by the war - in large part because those who did survive were often crippled, and therefore limited in their capacity to "rebuild" their countries after the war. We're supposedly in the "rebuilding" stage in Iraq, and people are still getting crippled at an alarming rate.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

BTW, I didn't take MK's question as a cheap diversionary misdirect. Getting the numbers right matters, regardless of the context. Forty percent of all people know that.

12:24 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

What Jeff said. Germy, it was asked strictly out of curiousity. I'm perfectly willing to concede 50-60 thousand is possible. I like the the iraqbody count number for the simple reason that they attempt to document it rather than pull it from their nether regions like everybody else.

"Does 27-31,000 represent a more acceptable level of civilian deaths?" Yes, definitely. Don't you think it's better if 30,000 fewer innocents are killed?

"If you don't want to answer the question about Vietnam vs Iraq, that's cool - but a diversionary misdirect about body counts? That's cheap."
My answer is that neither was a mistake to fight, but there have been plenty of mistakes in the way that both were fought. Of course I'm just a chickenhawk, so my opinion doesn't count (speaking of cheap misdirects).

12:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Of course I'm just a chickenhawk, so my opinion doesn't count (speaking of cheap misdirects)."

It's not that the opinions of chickenhawks don't count, exactly--it's just that we don't have to take them very seriously.

2:06 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

germanicus the contrarian, such was not my contention. i ammoving into that category myself

2:32 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"germanicus the contrarian"
That was my favorite Schwarzenegger movie.

3:11 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

And yet he used a stunt double.

At the time I was writing I was on an exercise bike at the Y; now I am plowed off of whiskey (it's my day off) and trying to string together coherent sentences.

I was responding to his believed assumption of mine that people in favor of Vietnam couldn't be against Iraq, and I wanted to get in there that I think Vietnam was more justified than Iraq is, although I favor (albeit VERY tentatively) both actions.

Considering that the average American believed nuclear holocaust was not far away, our victory in the Cold War really does need to lead to a re-consideration of Vietnam (and Korea), and it would be beyond healthy to reconsider our war in Iraq.

An actually thinking and engaged population might be even more against (or for) the war, but either way it couldn't hurt. When (if ever) is going to war overseas justified? What constitutes victory (as bodycounts as here been so readily discounted?)

I seem to recall that the United States helped set up South Vietnam against the Geneva Accords, and when we left, there remained a South Vietnam. Was victory obtained but never defended? Was the media to blame for the loss?
Of course, should it have mattered to the tune of 58000 American lives, and many more ruined lives once the soldiers returned?

Philosophical minds born one year after North Vietnam successfully invaded South Vietnam want to know!

4:26 PM  

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