Is Iraq Like Vietnam?

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…asks the National Journal here.

And it provides three answers: Yes, No, and shaddup already.

NEXT: Bad Gas

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  1. Not sure if this is the same one, but a National Journal piece argues that “France was right about Iraq” and international journalists (French included, of course) are asking U.S. officials how they respond to the National Review making that argument…

  2. heyyy mann, you wern’t there mann. we channnged the world back then maannn. viet-nam was badd news mann, we had some good times maaan and its groovey to do it gain.

    peace.

  3. Right on, man! Flag waving felt so much better than working does. When I protested about Vietnam, I felt like I mattered. My minivan life sucks. With less smog, women CEOs, and interracial schools, I was getting complacent. Thank god for Bush, brother!

  4. The “shaddup already” article, while long, was really good.

    I wouldn’t like to be in the thrty years war (Eric Flint’s recent book “1632” shows it’s nastiness quite well) and I hope if that is the way of the future, the ravages will be elsewhere.

    Perhaps we’re heading toward a world similar to Stephanson’s “Snow Crash” where individuals contract for their cops, fire protection and garbage collection from such varied groups as the mafia, the mormons or others.

    The state will be no more, a true libertarian paradise!

  5. Problems caused by the 60s generation and boomers:

    1)They got everyone into using drugs, but didn’t get them legalized, so they have sentenced two generations of blacks to prison and destoyed black family life

    2)They screwed with propert values in this country in the 80s, so now all salaries are out of whack with housing costs, with menial labor not being paid a relatively liveable wage without both spouses working. This also lead to the destruction of family life

    3)Disco

    4)Got retirement accounts hooked into the market in a big way, making the lower classes more likely to vote against their economic self interest in a false belief that they are one of the wheeler dealers.

    5)Fosted welfare on poor people, who are now poor and feel like they are entitled to stuff without earning it.

    6)Ruined education by taking punishment and responsibility out of the training paradigm.

    7)Are currently trying to bankrupt the country on medicare and SS give aways now that they are old and cranky.

    8)Caused following generations to not trust or believe in institutions and traditions, yet offered noting to replace those traditions.

    9)As they grew older they became more afraid of the mulicultural folks they wanted to represent, and have saddle us with a police state and 2,000,000 folks in prison.

    10)George Bush

    Thanks, rich entitled hippies, can’t wait till you are dead.

  6. Wanna comment on how they could get “everyone hooked on drugs” but managed to only sentance 2 generations of blacks to prison?

  7. Is Iraq Like Vietnam?
    uhm Yes? No? In some ways but not others. The only thing I know for certain is that sooner or later we will become unwilling (hopefully before we become unable) to continue to pump our blood and treasure into Iraq. Then we put our tail between our legs and come home.

    How do I know this? 4,000 years of history. This has been the fate of every foreign occupation the middle east has ever known.

    I also predict that within 6 mo. of our withdrawal Iraq will deteriorate into something worse than Saddam’s Iraq.

  8. Warren:

    The only thing I know for certain is that sooner or later we will become unwilling (hopefully before we become unable) to continue to pump our blood and treasure into Iraq. Then we put our tail between our legs and come home. How do I know this? 4,000 years of history. This has been the fate of every foreign occupation the middle east has ever known.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, here, but on its face you have made a statement that is demonstrably false. Large swaths of the Middle East have been ruled by “foreign” empires for most of its history, particularly if you are think of Arabs or other Semitic people as the “natives.”

    The Turks, for one thing, are from Central Asia, next to China. They showed up in the Middle East more than a thousand years ago and are still there. Moreover, most of what today are Arabic countries were ruled for much of their history by non-Arabs, including Egyptians, Persians, others of Iranian or central Asian stock, Romans, Greeks (still said they were Romans), Turks, and Brits. The independent Arab emirates of the coast were nominally independent for centuries but actually protectorates of the Brits.

    Of course, the Arabs themselves were conquerors from the 7th century on for a couple of centuries, but they eventually became the subjects of others again.

    What did you mean? That Arab-speaking countries are difficult and costly to rule? I’m not sure this was any more true than in other climes.

  9. Warren, I fear you may very well be precisely correct.

    :-{

  10. Warren can’t be precisely correct since his claims regarding the past are precisely wrong. If history shows us anything, it’s when anyone brays “we’re the graveyard of empires” they’re always wrong.

  11. John Hood,
    You are right about the Turks. I don’t think of Turkey as a Mid East country, but it’s an arbitrary distinction. Most of the rest of your list is exactly my point. Although I thought Egyptians, Persians, and Iranians were of Arab stock.

    In particular I was thinking of the Romans, the Mongolians (with regards to Iraq) and the Brits. All of whom brought stability and wealth to the lands they occupied. However, this was only sustainable as long as fresh troops and gold continued to flow into the region. Eventually, they all cut their losses and went home.

    And once the evil foreigners had left the natives resumed killing each other.

    Anon@6:29,
    I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you site a few examples?

  12. John Hood,
    You are right about the Turks. I don’t think of Turkey as a Mid East country, but it’s an arbitrary distinction. Most of the rest of your list is exactly my point. Although I thought Egyptians, Persians, and Iranians were of Arab stock.

    In particular I was thinking of the Romans, the Mongolians (with regards to Iraq) and the Brits. All of whom brought stability and wealth to the lands they occupied. However, this was only sustainable as long as fresh troops and gold continued to flow into the region. Eventually, they all cut their losses and went home.

    And once the evil foreigners had left the natives resumed killing each other.

    Anon@6:29,
    I don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you site a few examples?

  13. HEY! I swear I only posted once.

  14. Warren

    Iranians are Persians.

    Iranians aren’t Arabs, and that error is the best diagnostic for identifying those who don’t know the first thing about the Middle East.

    The Mongols were the greatest mass murderers in history prior to the twentieth century. They also destroyed ancient irrigation systems, reducing whole populations to poverty for generations. Stability and wealth? Good ones.

  15. Whats all this nonsense about history that you folks are in disagreement over. You all need to understand that all that history crap doesn’t matter, the plain and simple answer is that those folks over there don’t like us and they knocked down our buildings so we need to get over there and kick some ass. History Smistory, Damn know it all academics…

  16. . . . the plain and simple answer is that those folks over there don’t like us and they knocked down our buildings so we need to get over there and kick some ass.

    Something like that, yeah, assuming that “those folks” were allied with and assisting the building-knocker-downers, before or after the fact.

    Sometimes the visceral reaction is the correct one. “Rednecks” — or the Jacksonian tradition of American foreign policy, as Walter Russell Mead would put it — have some underappreciated virtues.

  17. David,
    I know Persia = Iran. I was alluding to the earlier post, and introduced the redundancy. As to Iranians not being Arabs, I don’t claim to be a Mid East historian but I do think I know one or two things about it. Perhaps we could compromise and say that ‘I don’t know the third thing about the Middle East’.

    As to the Mongolians, Yeah, I’m totaly busted there. Not only were they ruthless, but they didn’t leave till they were driven out by other foriegners. So my whole “they couldn’t afford to stay anymore” thesis falls appart in that case.

    Yet I still believe we will eventualy be driven out. The longer we stay the more we will be resented, and the more resistance we’ll face. Furthermore, I claim that this result is inevetable and was foreseeable before we the war began.

  18. I think it’s more like the War of 1812. No, it’s more like the the Pelopennesian War. No, it’s more like the moss on a bark in a cold bog. Ah, forget it.

  19. Boy … and here I thought this war, like all wars, was a rerun of World War II.

  20. Iraq is nothing like Vietnam! Vietnam is in Asia.

  21. Jesse jokes, but, to be fair, this war lines up better with WWII than any other in that we’re fighting worldwide fascism.

  22. No, it’s more like World War II if we’d taken out Hitler around 1937–we’d save millions of lives and have to live with the scorn of intellectuals forevermore.

  23. Let’s face it, it’s as stupid to try to compare this to any other war as it is to make arguments like “North Korea (or Iran or Syria or wherever) is as bad as/worse than Iraq, so why didn’t we attack them?” Analogies between different geopolitical situations (except perhaps in very small and specific cases) simply break down under analysis.

  24. Anyone remember Dana Carvey playing Bush Sr. at the beginning of Gulf War Sr.?

    “I can promise the American people that this war will not be another Vietnam. For we have learned the lesson of Vietnam: Stay out of Vietnam.

  25. It is ridiculous to compare Saddam Hussein in 2003 to Hitler. Hussein had been getting steadily weaker for over a decade, and by the time of the invasion had large swaths of his own country out of his control. The one time he had tried to annex a neighbor he had been badly swatted down.

    Even in the earlier Iran-Iraq war Hussein kept from losing by enlisting US help in using chemical weapons on the Iranians.

    http://www.photius.com/rogue_nations/020818_nyt.html

  26. Good point, Alma. Thanks goodness this time we handled Hitler right–weakening him and then kicking him out before he could make real trouble. We don’t always get what we want, but it’s such a better world when the Nazis who do exist are much weaker.

  27. Better question: Why are the boomers and their wanna-be spawn pathetically trying to relive their wretched youth.

    Yeah yeah all that peace-love-dope changed the world. Now get a haircut hippies!

  28. This war is like the Viet Nam war if you correlate us now with France then.

  29. we have been to iraq before
    it is history repeating itself

    “Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt.”

    Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138

  30. John

    You fail to realize that all the people over there are somewhat involved in the building knocking down because they all hate the big evil satan over here. Its us against them. Us being us and them being anybody over there that doesn’t like us. Please proceed to put part of this statement in italics and beat the poor redneck down…

  31. Please proceed to put part of this statement in italics and beat the poor redneck down.

    No.

  32. Megamike:

    Hadrian was not referring to the Mesapotamians as some sort of unconquerable nation. He was referring to the fact that the Roman military system wasn’t then up the task of taking on the Parthians, with whom Rome continued to spar for control of present-day Iraq. Their rivalry continued for hundreds of years — the Romans becoming the Eastern Romans (Byzantines) and the Parthians giving way to native rule (of Persia that is) by the Sassanids — until both were ejected from Mesapotamia by another foreign power: the Arabs.

    There is no way to twist history into concluding that Mesapotamia is some sort of foreign-power graveyard. It just isn’t. That doesn’t mean the current war will succeed, of course.

  33. “Something like that, yeah, assuming that “those folks” were allied with and assisting the building-knocker-downers, before or after the fact.”

    That distinction may be important to you… but it is not equally important to me.

    Think of the Allied bombing campaign in Germany… was every single German civilian guilty?

    What about the babies! Waaahhhhhhh!

    Fairness and Justice are concepts which only work inside groups — not between groups.

  34. We were not fighting “worldwide fascism” in the 40s, primarily because there’s no such thing. Fascism is, by definition, joined at the hip with the nation-state. We were fighting three distinct fascsit (or pseudo-fascist) entities, each of whom made certain marriages of convenience with other nation states based on geopolitical realities. These countries were perfectly happy to go to war with other fascist countries, with Poland and Czecheslovakia being pretty good examples.

    The term Islamo-fascism is based on illusory coincidences and PR. If anything, this war is most like the Cold War.

  35. John Hood,

    Well, every empire in the region faltered and collapsed or at least withdrew after a time; whether that makes it a “graveyard of empires” is another matter. It certainly is the graveyard of Saddam’s efforts at creating an empire.

  36. Back to the discussion of “Is Iraq a mirror image of Vietnam”….Of course not, and no foreign policy “expert” worth his or her title would even begin to rationalize that argument. The geopolitical situations could not be any more polarized, with one representing democracy (small “d”) vs. Communism, and the other representing a battle between a threat and a potential neutralizer of said threat. Also, Iraq does not have the financial and ideological backing that North Vietnam had (think China and Russia, very powerful allies INDEED). They do not have a powerful or uniting leader like the North Vietnamese had in Ho Chi Minh, nor do they have an effective insurgent force like that of the Vietcong. The conflict in Vietnam met with mass protests, many of which turned violent. It came in an era of civil unrest and social revolution. The ties that bind Iraq to the conflict in Vietnam are strained indeed.

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