Saturday, August 25, 2007

Viet Nam is the new Iraq

It's a wee bit intimidating that Jeff writes such erudite and articulate posts here. Mine won't be that. But here goes anyway...

What do the rest of you think about Number 43 doing a complete about face and now comparing Iraq to Viet Nam?

My take is that this is happening because Karl Rove left and now someone else is putting words into George's mouth. The history of war lesson this AWOL gave the VFW meeting on Wednesday not only was filled with questionable historical interpretations, not only was insulting to be telling the veterens about the wars they fought, but it was exactly the kind of thing Rove would have told Bush not to say.

And how can he possibly think telling the country we should have stayed the course in Viet Nam is going to bring any of the undecideds over to him?

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Blogger sexyretard said...

First of all, comrade Jeff, the title of your selection is deliciously ironic. Given how many people ascribe to the Duby athe character of the Great Satan himself, suggesting that he has a "good vs evil mentality" and somehow that THAT destroyed his presidency is laugh out loud funny.

Onto IHOP (again, welcome), the Vietnam War is a fascinating event indeed. Ask any 18 year old the odds of dying in Vietnam and they will be nowhere close to what the actual odds were (taking number of troops deployed and dividing it by the number of deaths). People learned about Vietnam from Oliver stone rather than by the people who actually went. A soldier student told me that his experience in the Balkans was far different from what the reports made it out to be.

Like Iraq, I believe the ground war in Vietnam was a mistake, but that's no excuse for the incredible revisionism that has taken place. No one seems to pay any attention to the fact that we were brought in via Kennedy and Johnson and then brought out via Nixon. (We also have recently built a memorial to the President who sent Japanese Americans into detention camps for the damnable characteristic of being Japanese--good thing he was a Democrat) Besides that, upon leaving in 1973, there were two distinct Vietnams yet. What we lost were not military engagements at all, but rather the PR campaign within the US and outside of the US.

We never should have tried to win a ground occupation against a nation that rallied against invaders, not then and not now. However, we did in fact attain the objective of deposing Hussein, and at least in 1973, we had also achieved the objective of having a non-communist Vietnam. I have no doubts that the North Vietnamese were watching the news on Watergate and Ford's pardon of Nixon, and that this was all the more encouragement to strike at a time when the US leadership was unwiling AND morally unable to adequately answer the 1975 invasion.

Let me be the only person who was willing to call Vietnam a military victory and a Congressional defeat. The real lesson, I believe, of Iraq is that you have no business to going to war if you do not intend to win. War sucks, and if you are going to go through hell, you have to go straight through, and that involves innocent people dying and people you want to like you end up hating you. Right now our trops are little more than target practice and IED dummies, and they need to be gotten out of there.

By the way, I have not consulted Conservapedia or the Bob Jones University for these opinions (they come straight from the Pope:)

12:23 PM  
Blogger International House of Pedantics said...

yeesh. i almost completely agree with the retard on this one.

I don't think we should go to war very often (not in viet nam; not in iraq), but when we go, we must give it our all to win. The US was not aggrieved in either of these cases (no, 9/11 does not count as Iraq didn't do it) so there was inadaquate public support to fight to the finish.

Side note: there is evidence now that the Gulf of Tonkin attack was much more like the sinking of the Maine than the attack on Pearl Harbor.

10:34 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...


Have you contacted your friend over at that eastern state college University that shall remain nameless (Go Hokies, and take the Cavaliers with you!) regarding the "gender gap" and political science awareness?

The gendar gap I'm citing comes from the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institue and Rutgers (a Bob Jones, Southern Baptist Convention front group if ever I have seen one). It shows a gap of 3% for abortion but one of 10% for gun control, 13% for social welfare spending, 16% for affirmative action, and 19% for use of military force.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I find S-Tard's references to Vietnam revisionism very interesting. First, I've been noticing an anecdotal increase in print/radio on the Right in two things: rehabilitating Joe McCarthy, and pushing the "Westmoreland/Sexy Retard Interpretation" of Vietnam as a loss of political will rather than a military loss.

Wrt Vietnam, I have no idea what "the public" thinks about Vietnam--except that majorities pretty consistently judge it to have been a mistake, rather than a good war incompetently prosecuted--or how many of them know that Kennedy got us in and Nixon got us out (though, S-Tard, you must admit that this description of Nixon's role, while technically correct, is about as wrong in spirit as a description can get), etc. This brings up a theme that we seem to return to often in the KKRB, which is the gulf between specialist knowledge and popular interpretations of that knowledge (like the climate scientists who say that warming is statistically likely to provoke more extreme hurricanes, and the lay people who attributed Katrina to global warming with 100% certainty).

It may be that we could have won the war with the kind of will described by Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, but as Westmoreland himself so famously described, Americans have a different standard for what they're willing to accept in terms of their own casualties, as well as in war crimes perpetrated against civilians (the latter is a positive phenomenon that I think is one of the few constructive, long-term results of the anti-Vietnam War movement). However, you might just as well claim that we could have won the war if only we had a large enough fleet of fire-breathing dragons to scare the crap out of the superstitious Vietnamese. If the physical, moral, or sociological conditions that would allow you to win a war don't exist, you can't keep going around and saying "We would have won if only..."

As for IHOP's original point, given the fact that we (Left and Right) seem to exist in two completely different universes of information interpretation, it makes all the sense in the world that Bush would describe Iraq in terms of Vietnam, because he and the people he's talking to see it strictly via the Wetmoreland Interpretation, which, I suppose, is non-controversial inside their milieu.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"First of all, comrade Jeff, the title of your selection is deliciously ironic. Given how many people ascribe to the Duby athe character of the Great Satan himself, suggesting that he has a "good vs evil mentality" and somehow that THAT destroyed his presidency is laugh out loud funny."

Companero Retrasado, I think the defect in your observation is that everyone expects the polemics of activists to be manichean, while most of us expect our nation's approach to diplomacy, military strategy, nation building, etc., to be constructed with a little more scholarship and delicacy than the screenplay to a John Wayne movie.

11:03 AM  
Blogger sexyretard said...


Sure Monday morning quarterbacking can be done for wars as well as football games (if only our center were a 10,000 pound poisonous Komodo dragon...) but I don't think the conditions for victory in Viet Nam were quite so unreasonable. The political will was lacking domestically--the fact that the nationalist Vietnamese were not easy targets (as I've already said, we shouldn't have tried a land war at all) does not mean that victory was unattainable (and, indeed, it was attained for 2 years until we failed to keep our promises). I seem to recall economic promises made to North Vietnam that were broken as well.

The McNamara interpretation, incidentally, is not common among rank and file conservatives, and we've just now heard Bush follow it. I think someone managed to find his spine when he realized that just about everyone hated him anyway. The average conservative walking around will tell you that Vietnam was a military defeat and will not even know the McNamara doctrine that you are so convinced is taught us all at Vast Right Wing Conspiracy camp.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...


I didn't mean to suggest that you're all toeing the line wrt Westmoreland's insane hawkery--just that more and more of you are doing so now, probably in response to the unavoidable parallels being drawn with Vietnam. I'm sure there were periods when things were "looking up" in Vietnam for the US, just as there have been such periods in Iraq...

Given its endless exploitation as a metaphor, I wonder if it would be a good idea for us as the KKRB to read a couple of books about Vietnam?

1:02 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Great idea, but we must find some dictator and then influence him. We are a democratic revolving dictatorship, you know.

I'm with you, though. I'd love to more about how to blame the French for all of that, the deceptions of Tonkin, the journals of the soldiers (both pro and con the war and the action), etc.

3:35 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Incidentally, Jeff, it bears repeating that I am against the land war in Iraq and I have always been against the land war in Iraq. I also think Vietnam's land war was a mistake.

My beliefs about Vietnam do not come recently, and neither do they come from wanting to make Iraq look good. The one part of me that is hawkish would say that Nixon's bombings did a heck of a lot more military good than sending in troops for target practice.

3:37 PM  

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