Iraq

Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam

The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

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Saddam Hussein
U.S. Military / Wikimedia Commons

A corrupt government that has alienated many of its people finds itself unable to overcome a growing insurgency in an endless civil war and expects a superpower on the other side of the globe to come to its rescue. That's the story in Iraq today—which carries eerie echoes of the not-so-distant past.

In June of 1964, as conditions deteriorated in South Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson assured a journalist he was not about to get too far in or stay too far out. "We won't abandon Saigon, and we don't intend to send in U.S. troops," he insisted. He was betting that U.S. military advisers would be enough to head off defeat.

Half a century later, President Barack Obama has adopted a similar policy, dispatching some 300 advisers to Iraq in an effort to keep its military from being routed. Once again, the fervent hope in the White House is that a small commitment will suffice.

The difference is that Obama's decision comes in the aftermath of a catastrophic American intervention, following our departure, rather than at the beginning of one, as we're about to plunge in. It's an epilogue, not a foreword.

But the parallels between the two wars are more conspicuous than ever. And there are clear morals to be drawn from them. Some of the big ones:

  • Military power is overrated. The United States had huge advantages in technology, resources and manpower over the North Vietnamese and their Vietcong confederates. Our soldiers prevailed again and again in combat. But victory eluded us.
  • Same in Iraq. We smashed Saddam Hussein's army with devastating speed. But we were unprepared for the subsequent guerrilla war, fought with improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs. The insurgents had no chance of defeating American units in conventional battles. But they didn't need to.
  • Motivation is critical, and we can't supply it to our allies. The U.S. spent some eight years and $25 billion training the Iraqi military, which greatly outnumbered the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But when ISIS launched an offensive this month, the government forces dissolved like sugar cubes.
  • The militants have succeeded despite many disadvantages. They have one big advantage, as an Iraqi commander told The New York Times: "ISIS fighters have a will to die, so they don't show fear."
  • The same was true of the enemy in Vietnam. Our South Vietnamese allies were notoriously unreliable, while Communist soldiers fought doggedly despite horrendous conditions. "'I wish they were on our side' was a comment commonly uttered by American officers," wrote Stanley Karnow in "Vietnam: A History."
  • Once American forces were gone, the North Vietnamese mounted a campaign aimed at winning the war in two years. It took less than two months.
  • You can't implant democracy in barren soil during wartime. We tried in both places, and in both places, what emerged was an autocratic regime far more intent on holding on to power by force than building broad popular support.
  • South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu's regime fell partly because it had shallow roots among the people. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite government fostered fear and loathing among the Sunni minority. The military debacles were the fruit of their political failures.
  • You can't outlast a homegrown opponent. The problem with overseas wars is that the enemies are in their own country. They don't have to search for reasons to fight: They fight because their land has been invaded.
  • They also don't have to win—they only have to hold on. Eventually, Americans will leave, because they can. Leaving is not an option for those we are fighting.

 The lessons of Vietnam were seared into the minds of many Americans, but by 2003, they had faded. Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan, proved their lasting applicability.

"The United States spent more on the Iraq war in real terms than it did on the Vietnam War," notes MIT defense scholar Barry Posen in his formidable new book, "Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy." "Though military analysts believe that the (Communist) Vietnamese were much more competent militarily than the Iraqi insurgents, the Iraqi insurgents appear to be twice as efficient killers."

Maybe the Iraq debacle will inoculate future presidents against large land wars on foreign continents. So far, though, it has confirmed the adage that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.

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139 responses to “Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam

  1. Shorter Chapman:

    BOOOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHHH!

      1. Don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

        1. This whole stinkin’ WAR thing could be done away with entirely, if only just a FEW more people started listening to the Sacred Wisdom of the Time Cub!!! See below, read and heed?

          Let’s… Do… The TIME CUBE again!!!
          It’s just a step to the right…
          And a jump to the left,
          With your knees in tight,
          (Come ON, do it RIGHT!)
          http://www.timecube.com/timecube2.html
          (Well secluded, I see ALL!!!)
          Time Cubists of the Weird, Wired World, Unite!

      2. now that is a cutting edge argument.

      3. Buttplug|6.26.14 @ 12:55PM|#

        NO FAIR! BLAME OBAMA!”

        RACIST !

  2. My ESPN cable hookup won’t load on my Ipad at work, so I’m missing the kickball game. This is infuriating.

    Also, test.

    1. US looking lost and flat. Still 0-0. Soaked pitch.

      Por up 1-0 over Ghana which is good.

        1. I’m getting little snippets here and there now. I guess everyone is watching cable on demand today. Can the U.S. kill it in the corner for an entire half?

  3. Vietnam was an epilogue to the French failure. The two share even more in common then you realize.

    1. Yes, in that Iraq is a similar British failure.

      No, in that Iraq is the opposite of a jungle, and the Vietnamese had been fighting foreign occupiers for quite some time, and had gotten quite good at it, whereas the inexperience of Iraqi troops has a lot to do with their splitting the scene when fighting starts.

      Afghanistan is much more like Vietnam in terms of the hardened population who just isn’t going to take shit from anyone.

      ISIS is on the way there, which is what makes them more of a problem.

  4. You can’t outlast a homegrown opponent. The problem with overseas wars is that the enemies are in their own country. They don’t have to search for reasons to fight: They fight because their land has been invaded.

    True, no nation in history has ever been successfully invaded, conquered, and occupied.

    1. You can’t outlast a homegrown opponent.

      Ahh, the secret for marijuana decriminalization’s relative success at last.

    2. True, no nation in history has ever been successfully invaded, conquered, and occupied.

      I am going to assume this is sarcasm.

      1. I am going to assume this is sarcasm.

        I thought it was obvious.

    3. Tell it to the Angles.

    4. did you forget about Germany and Japan

      1. He definitely forgot about the Confederate States of America.

        1. And the rest of North America.

    5. Yes, if you go there in sufficient numbers you can succeed, because then, you’re there too. But the USA isn’t there in sufficient numbers. Suffiicent numbers is when your people can’t leave either, or at least can’t leave without losing things they’re prepared to die for.

      1. Exactly. If we went in with 3 million troops and provided security for every village, the war would be over in a month with very few casualties. We still have troops in Japan and Germany, an assignment most soldiers would give a nut for.

        Bush41 went into Kuwait with 900,000 troops and that war was over in 100 hours. Bush43 had a much broader objective, but the Democrats had cut back the troop strength so much that he only had less than 300,000 deployable troops to spare, not enough to fill the security vacuum we left when we took out the Ba’ath Party. That left the people vulnerable to sectarian violence, and the blamed us for that.

  5. You know how every childhood problem is autism or AD(H)D? For peacenazis like Chapman, every foreign policy problem is Vietnam and THE JOOS Israel.

    1. I would enjoy an article by anyone on the Reason payroll laying out when they think it’s OK to go to war.

      Not underhandedly commenting on anything specific; I just don’t recall reading one in at least the past year.

      1. “I would enjoy an article by anyone on the Reason payroll laying out when they think it’s OK to go to war.”

        It’s OK when you are the one being attacked.

        1. Right, but there are all kinds of grey areas; see, Desert Storm ep. 1.

          1. “Desert Storm ep. 1”

            What was grey about that?

            1. Well, to me, nothing, but apparently nobody else considers it prudent to mind their own fucking business.

    2. You know who else ignores the content of someone’s argument and instead goes after them personally?

      1. Not me since the contents of Chapman articles in general are exactly what I critiqued.

  6. You can’t implant democracy in barren soil during wartime. We tried in both places, and in both places, what emerged was an autocratic regime far more intent on holding on to power by force than building broad popular support.

    This is point I have been making since I shed my Team Red blinders some years back. It is ridiculously arrogant to think that we can walk into a completely foreign culture and convince/cajole/force them to adopt a particular form of government. Even if we are right and the form of government we offer is better for their people, its not going to work if the natives of that country are not buying in. If the motivation is entirely external and paternalistic there is very little chance it will take root and flourish. (citation: The entirety of history from WWI on.)

    1. The trouble is, before you can get a meaningful election to happen where you can get reasonably coherent representative bodies negotiating issues in good faith, you have to get people to stop shooting each other.

      Iron-fisted dictators are way, way better at getting people to stop shooting each other than ad hoc, foreign-appointed deliberative bodies are.

      I’ll probably get dog-piled and put on some sort of watch list for saying it, but ISIS may be the first real step towards stable democratic government in western Iraq/eastern Syria.

      Whatever the first step is, it is likely to be something we as a people find intensely unpalatable. Do we keep knocking down governments as they emerge, or do we let the roulette wheel finally settle on one and hope for the best?

      1. ISIS is closer to a revolutionary government like the Taliban than to a “stable” Pinochet-style dictatorship. The emergent hierarchy of a revolutionary movement and violence legitimated by ideology rather than established order are not conducive to public order or liberty.

        1. Probably true. I was intrigued by the tales of clandestine road repairs being performed by ISIS, but the whole “exterminate the Shi’a” attitude will be a definite roadblock to meaningful democracy.

          1. Well, until there aren’t any more Shia…

    2. It is ridiculously arrogant to think that we can walk into a completely foreign culture and convince/cajole/force them to adopt a particular form of government.

      MacArthur would like to have a word with you.

    3. Japan, South Korea.

      Not saying it is a good idea but it can happen

  7. Even if we are right and the form of government we offer is better for their people, its not going to work if the natives of that country are not buying in. If the motivation is entirely external and paternalistic there is very little chance it will take root and flourish. It’s still none of our fucking business.

    ftfy

    1. Anon, you are wise.

  8. Not brave enough to go totally topless? Now you can bare it all while maintaining modesty in a daring ‘TaTa Top’ bikini

    Though they are not directly affiliated, the TaTa Top was in part inspired by the Free The Nipple movement made popular by Bruce Willis’ daughter Scout

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/fem…..ikini.html

    1. All kinds of good news today.

    2. Debunk ideas: ‘The only excitement that comes from seeing breasts is that you are conditioned to think they are something special, something to be kept hidden,’ reads TaTa Top website

      Yeah, sure. That’s what I want. I want a world where a woman’s bits are “nothing special”, like walking by a fire hydrant, or driving behind a 1988 Stanza.

      1. Also, that’s a BS point on its face. Any survey of literature from ancient times will demonstrate breasts excite people even when exposure is the norm.

        1. A woman’s ass excites me, and 100% of the time its fully clothed.

          1. Bingo. So are vaginas, IIRC.

            1. Another great idea! Hairy panties!

    3. So what would happen if 3-4 of these women went to a Chipotle? Would the patrons feel put upon? It’s about conditioning…

  9. “expects a superpower on the other side of the globe to come to its rescue”

    Has anyone in Iraq expressed this expectation? I’ve only heard it from the media here.

    1. Not including the Maliki government, I presume.

      Although even they may have realized that the US cavalry isn’t coming over the hill, which is why they are sucking ayatollah cock right now.

      1. “which is why they are sucking ayatollah cock right now”

        Maliki has been sucking Ayatollah cock since he was a teenager.

        Putting him in charge of Iraq is like overthrowing the government of Alabama in 1961 and putting Malcom X in charge, and then wondering why the government wasn’t more inclusive of the previously-dominant party.

  10. So the question is, will the presumptive nominee for the Democrats be an anti-war candidate?

    1. She’s working on it.

    2. rhetoric is venue-dependent.

    3. Depends on the polls.

  11. So rather than talk about the actual historical reasons for Iraqi instability, i.e. three different ethnic and religious groups that share no real national identity living in a country formed from a British mandate, Chapman feels its more appropriate to compare to Vietnam, which was fucked up for entirely different reasons (numerous colonial invasions and the Vietnamese connection of nationalism to communism).

    Seriously, can we get over the juvenile comparisons to other events in American history and recognize the fact that Iraq’s own demographic and cultural divides strongly encourage instability or a strongman dictator?

    1. Yep. There ain’t going to be a unified democratic Iraq, no matter how hard our government tries, because the people don’t want it. Democracy means one of the three groups wins while the other two lose. That’s not a recipe for a stable government.

    2. Iraq didn’t start with Bush taking advise from the CEO of GM over every General and Admiral in the Pentagon.

      http://extendedremarks.blogspo…..t-war.html

    3. Exactly.

      From my understanding, Kurdistan is now functionally independent, and is showing no signs of any interest in reconnecting with their former “brethren.”

      That, with the progress of ISIS in western Iraq/eastern Syria means this is pretty much a done deal – there is no more Iraq.

  12. the parallels between the two wars are more conspicuous than ever.

    Uh… no. Vietnam was fucked because nationalism was associated with communism in the colonial period. Iraq is fucked because it isn’t much of a nation to start with, and the various ethnoreligious identities are of more importance than other types of identity. S Vietnam was not particularly well-loved by its populace but it was functional (especially towards the end). It was ended by a conventional military invasion after our departure, not internal fissures. Iraq is a state but never was never a nation, is not currently a nation and is being ended by its own people through a revolt of fanatics rather than a foreign force. The parallel was never really that strong to begin with, but is even less connected to Vietnam today than it ever was.

    1. “Iraq is a state but never was never a nation”

      Well put.

      1. Except for the double “never.”

      2. Yeah, Iraq is more like the former Yugoslavia than Vietnam. Had the French tried to create an “Indochina” state, there might have been a parallel.

  13. The real question is what does the Commander In Chief think these 300 advisors are going to accomplish? 300 Americans are not going to stop the Iraqi forces from dissolving, or convince the ISIS forces that living is preferable to martyrdom. Obama has no will to fight these people as evidenced by his paltry contribution to defense of the Iraqi government. He only wants to look like he is doing something in the face of his greatest foreign policy achievement turning to dust before his eyes. When this sorts itself out, there will be a lot of dead people in Iraq, and the ones left over will be looking at us.

    1. The real question is what does the Commander In Chief think these 300 advisors are going to accomplish?

      Hold Thermopylae?

    2. “what does the Commander In Chief think these 300 advisors are going to accomplish”

      Deflect criticism that he ignored the embassy’s call for added security?

      1. The real question is what does the Commander In Chief think these 300 advisors are going to accomplish?

        Allow him to say that we had to do something and that that is something?

    3. Who cares? We shouldn’t be fighting in Iraq in the first place. This is an example of Obama mostly getting it right. I say mostly because those 300 “advisors” shouldn’t be there either.

  14. You can’t outlast a homegrown opponent.

    I remember how the Carthaginian managed to finally oust the Romans and… hey, wait.

    1. The Gauls, too.

    2. And how the Indians outlasted the United States.

      1. And the South outlasted the North.

    3. European powers certainly never had long standing colonial positions outside of Europe.

      1. That’s the real heart of it I think – it’s not so much that one people can’t be permanently dominated by another, but it’s hard to maintain when several thousand miles of sea and other countries separate you from the people you are trying to permanently dominate.

        1. Exactly. This is why the British Raj never existed.

          Waitwut?

    4. I thought it was implied that we wouldn’t be waging total war. The U.S. is not going to do that shit, nor should it.

      1. Yes it should if that is required to protect the individual rights of Americans at minimal cost.

        1. I actually agree with this – if there is a true self-defense war on, total war is morally required.

          1. Good, good. Let the WarBoner flow through you…

            1. Note I said “true self-defense”, not “stomp around the globe”

  15. “when ISIS launched an offensive this month, the government forces dissolved like sugar cubes”

    True, but they were in “enemy” territory (Sunni areas). One of the biggest differences in Iraq is that it’s a made up country, that is now split up almost exactly on religious/ethnic boundaries, as it always should have been. ISIS will likely not take Baghdad as the Sunnis don’t dominate the city (perhaps a slight majority?).

    The Shias will defend “their land” as the Sunnis have been reclaiming theirs. Remember, the people know the realities of their land even if the foreigners don’t get it.

    1. Applied to nubile 18 year olds, perhaps. But 10, 11, and 12 year olds tend to want to dress in provocative ways that depress me.

      1. I think it’s weird, but I really don’t get fashion at all, so what do I know. I just wear clothes to be warm and covered enough to be socially acceptable or provide adequate protection for what I am doing.

    2. “”A lot of times I want to grab these girls and say: ‘Look, in 10 years you’ll regret this,’ ” she said. “Just dress like who you are. Don’t try so hard. A pair of jeans and a T-shirt is just as gorgeous and even makes you look classier.””

      And if who they are is someone who likes to dress slutty? I mean it is unpossible for other girls to actually like different things than Bindi does

      1. While I’m in favor of women of all ages dressing as slutty as they like, I draw the line at having to hear tweenage girls complain about how cold it is while wearing a halter tops and booty shorts in the middle of winter with furry Ugg boots as the only concession to the weather.

        My name is jesse, and I shame sluts, but only impractical ones.

      2. Then they lack class. you can be classless if you want to, but people will judge you accordingly.

        1. I thought a classless society was a good thing?

          1. Couth would be a better term.

  16. Sorry, Mr. President, but Iraq looks a lot like Vietnam
    by Ronald Bruce St. John

  17. The lesson of both is that you can win a war but you can’t make other people win a war. In both Vietnam and Iraq, the US won militarily but then left before the locals could create a government strong enough to withstand and invasion from the outside.

    Chapman either is ignorant or lying when he talks about Vietnam. The US didn’t lose to a homegrown opponent. What happened was the communist back North rearmed in violation of the 73 Paris accords and launched a conventional invasion in early 1975 after Ford announced that the US would never return. South Vietnam fell due to a conventional invasion from a hostile nation that sought to invade and conquer it. Vietnam was not a victory of an insurgency. The insurgency lost. It was ended by a conventional invasion and occupation.

    1. There’s also the problem that, in the case of Iraq, a government “strong enough to withstand and invasion from the outside” was going to have to be much stronger, more violent, and possibly more sectarian than what it was to begin with. S Vietnam really just needed to get a handle on the Vietcong, which was indigenous but not exceptionally strong after the South began to be more prosperous and after the Tet Offensive spent the Vietcong’s resources. Iraq is a different kettle of fish, and its people are more willing to use force to establish their own alternatives to a secular Iraq.

      Chapman is an idiot.

    2. Remember when I said Chapman would do this within a week?

  18. This article shows an amazing lack of knowledge of the actual Vietnam war.

    There was no homegrown insurgency in Vietnam past Feburary of 1969. All of the VietCong were either dead or had been absorbed into the NVA. Further South Vietnam was well on it’s way socially and politically to making the same transformation that South Korea did into a successful western style Democracy capable of defending itself when the last of the US field units left the country in 1973.

    Then in 1974 the North reignited the war in a very traditional battle of nation states which they won in 1975 with an invasion force larger than the one Hitler used against Russia. Still for all of that ARVN valiantly held it’s own for a week till the US Congress voted to rescind our promise to intervene if the North violated the Paris Peace accords.

    While there was strong resentment for the weak, corrupt, and ineffective government in Saigon through most of the war the bulk of the citizens in the south did not back the Communist cause and the active internal rebellion ended 6 years before the war did. Had the US kept it’d promise and bombed the shit out of the invading Northern armies in March of 1975 there is an even money chance that today South Vietnam would be very close to what South Korea is.

    1. All of that and more. Chapman doesn’t seem to know much of anything at all about the actual Vietnam war. Whatever your opinion of Vietnam, you ought to understand what actually happened before drawing parallels to today from it.

      1. Historical accuracy is not the goal when people pull out Vietnam or Munich to discuss foreign policy. Most people who do so don’t understand those events beyond what is portrayed in the popular culture. It’s just a cheap emotional attempt to justify their position.

        1. That is an excellent point. The doves use Vietnam just like the Hawks use Munich. Not every war is Vietnam and not every international crisis is Munich. In fact most of each are not.

        2. That is very true, and it’s the kind of stuff that flies when you’re bullshitting about politics in a bar. It shouldn’t be making its way into nationally-syndicated articles (I’m looking at you, Richman and Kristol).

          If nothing else, it is cliche at this point.

      2. Chapman doesn’t seem to know anything at all period.

        FTFY

    2. Had the US kept it’d promise and bombed the shit out of the invading Northern armies in March of 1975 there is an even money chance that today South Vietnam would be very close to what South Korea is.

      In hindsight it might look like we pulled out on the cusp of victory, but the impetus was understandable given how sick of that shit the American people were in light of the stagflation, oil crisis, and Nixon destroying public confidence in the White House.

      What I find an interesting alternative historical situation is Red China, under Deng, opening trade with South Vietnam as a fuck you to the Soviets and their North Vietnamese allies.

    3. I turned 18 in March of 75. I was in the last cohort of 19-year-olds to register for the draft in 76. Vietnam scared the shit out of me.

      I’ve listened to many “experts” over the years explain 1) we could never win that war or 2) we just didn’t try hard enough. I’ve reached the point where I don’t much care who is right. But I am totally fed up with people comparing every new military adventure since then to the Vietnam experience.

      The war in Iraq was well-executed and led to a quick defeat of the enemy. The occupation of Iraq has been an absolute cluster fuck which is the responsibility of the political classes in the US whose view of the world appears to be completely divorced from reality.

      At this point, there only appear to be two paths with any chance of “success”. Either get the fuck out entirely or annex the place and make it a US territory. But the political classes in the US will instead drag this out for a least another decade.

    4. Yes, the take home lesson of the Vietnam War should be that we just didn’t stay there long enough.

      I wonder why we are running a federal deficit and can’t give tax breaks to “jobz creatorz.”

  19. The *real* parallel is to the Barbary Wars – just send in the Navy and Marines and shoot our way to a quick victory!

    /sarc

    1. You are right, we used to understand the value of a punitive raid. Exactly what I thought we were doing in Afghanistan at first.

      Fuck with us, we send in the Marines to break your shit, hang your leaders, take your valuables and sail home.

      The British did it perfectly in Ethiopia in 1868.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B….._Abyssinia

      1. And you leave with the promise to come back and do ten times worse if they fuck with us again.

  20. BTW, it is these articles which show that Reason is badly in need of the foreign policy equivalent of Balko: someone who actually knows what the hell they are talking about and who can provide some quality journalism on a specific set of issues related to the war. The Pentagon is not far from Washington D.C., and as crazy as it is to think about it is possible to go to Iraq or Afghanistan and actually see what is going on. There are plenty of good bloggers who would jump at a chance to publish on Reason for less than what Richman and Chapman are charging for their historical illiteracy; it’s worth looking into, anyways.

    1. Reason desparately needs someone who has served in or knows something about the military. They also need someone, perhaps the same person, who has spent some time in the Middle East.

      They have an anti-interventionist point of view. And that is fine. What is not fine is making stupid and uninformed arguments in furtherance of that view. Even if you agree with him, what do you ever get out of a Chapman foreign policy piece? Nothing.

      1. It would be hard to find a military expert who takes an anti-interventionist position on every foreign policy issue. Not that every military expert is a guns-a-blazing neocon, but even a nuanced point of view isn’t pacifist enough for Reason.

        1. True but Reason hired folks like Weigel to cover the Tea Party, and many of its staffers are not “pure” libertarians. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to find a military blogger critical of post-Cold War interventionism.

        2. It would not be that hard to find an experienced officer who believes the Constitution means what it says and is open-minded on foreign policy.

          Maybe they can’t afford somebody like that.

      2. How about Jeff R. Hummel? “Certified” libertarian and retired U.S. armored
        officer.

        1. He’d be a good choice. IIRC, he’s an an-cap, which would be a potentially interesting choice to read.

      3. John, are you sure you are on the correct website? Shouldn’t you be typing out your predictable right-wing screeds over at breitbart.com. As to your suggestion that in order to understand the military you have to be in the military i ‘d simply ask if you think a person who joined the military to find wmds in Iraq was smarter or dumberer than someone that contemptuously dismissed the need for that sort of operation.

        For all those fightin’ fer my freedom out there, thank you, but I’m good. I’d prefer my universal health care to providing cash payments to mercenaries fighting for oil companies.

        1. Nobody joined the military to “find wmds in Iraq”, you fucking moron.

    2. Couldn’t agree more with this. I like Reason, but their attempts to justify non-intervention are really bogged down by most of their writers’ ignorance about military history (and non-U.S. history in general, I’m looking at you, article about the Russian ‘Confederate’ flag).

      1. I am wiskink I was in Dixie, tovarisch!

  21. We’re through to the Round of 16.

    That was torture.

    1. They got out of the group of death. That is a hell of an accomplishment no matter what happens against Belgium.

    2. Whatever. USA! USA!

      1. By “torture” I mean emotionally wrenching, but ultimately very satisfying.

        Just to clarify.

  22. It should be noted that ISIS only has 2-3000 militants in Iraq. They spearhead the assaults with help from tribes and some other factions, but it is the tribes and factions that actually garrison conquered territory. They will probably fight each other and while ISIS has a lot of resources I doubt they can really decidedly win that fight. There has already been some fighting between ISIS and the Nashbeeq army, a neo-Baathist faction.

    1. We could stop this ISIS shit in its tracks by bribing the right people among the Sunni tribes. Everybody has a price.

      It would work even better if we could get the Iraqi government to set up a Sunni autonomous region similar to what the Kurds have.

      1. it would only last as long as we payed them, that is basically what we did during our occupation and look how well that turned out.

  23. It’s amazing how many people commenting here on this act like they ‘know’ what went on in Vietnam and what is going on in Iraq, they know the strength of the governments, the confidence the people had in them, the cultural twists and turns, what would have happened had we did this instead of this, etc. Of course the ones that seem to know the most and are most confident in it are the ones who seem most amendable to a more ‘muscular’ foreign policy than silly, naive non-interventionist libertarians propose.

    It’s that kind of conceit that leads people to advocate intervention (this holds true not only in foreign affairs but in domestic affairs, obviously). On the other hand, a little humility counsels extreme wariness before intervening in what are different and complex historical and cultural contexts.

    1. Do you even know what article you’re responding to? Would you like to call out the “many people” you are referring to like a man would, instead of passively aggressively sniping like a worthless pussy? Chapman is the one who made the fatuous comparison, thus inviting commentary on how Iraq and Vietnam are different. In point of fact, every difference I’ve seen pointed out here between Iraq and Vietnam is highly unfavorable to Iraq War boosters, and the only person who’s even mentioned “muscular” foreign policy here is you. So if you’d like to address something specific that someone has said that you disagree with, feel free. Otherwise, fuck off and find someone to annoy IRL; the subsequent beating you’ll no doubt receive might build some character.

      1. Yes It, Chapman doesn’t know, YOU do. We get it. If only more people had such deep knowledge as you do about such complex stuff, well, then we’d all agree with you.

      2. And yes IT, proponents of more ‘muscular’ foreign policy such as yourself never try to distinguish every conflict from the now widely recognized disaster in Vietnam. Sheesh you’re so muchore transparent than you think

    2. The pecksniffian prick returns.

    3. It is called reading a book. You might try it sometime. I know what happened in Vietnam or in Sparta during the Peloponnesian War because I am an educated person and I know something about history.

      I also “know” what went on in Iraq partially because I was there for a tour and know tons of other people who were and because I again bother to read about the subject. It is really not hard.

      We can debate about subjective things like what is best to do. But the facts of both places and both events are what they are. If you find understanding those beyond your abilities, well that is just too bad for you.

      It is not conceit to know the facts about something.

      1. The idea that you are so confident in these areas because you’ve read some books would warm any progressives heart John.

        1. That and spending a year in Iraq. Beyond that yes reading and education is how you learn things. Jesus you are a moron.

    4. Bo, you’re conflating knowing the best course of action with the premise most prevalent here which is “It’s None Of Our Fucking Business.”

      For instance, I know that hard work will make you relatively wealthy. Just because I know that does not give me the right to force you to work hard.

      1. Sure, but behind nearly all meddling is an overconfident belief that one knows what will do what and how things work. Humility pushes one toward pause.

    5. “Of course the ones that seem to know the most and are most confident in it are the ones who seem most amendable to a more ‘muscular’ foreign policy than silly, naive non-interventionist libertarians propose.”

      I am against intervening further in Iraq precisely because it is completely unlike Vietnam.

      In Vietnam you had a singular relatively coherent culture without a lot of inborn factionalism. To the extent that there was actually an internal insurrection (much of it was fabricated by the North) it was purely based around the corruption of the government and not the peoples inability to live with one another. Finally the enemy was not the South Vietnameese, it was the North Vietnameese Army invading.

      Stabilize the country, cut down on the Norths ability to carry out operations in the South, begin to clean up the corruption in the government and military, and encourage market based reforms and South Vietnam had a chance. That does not mean it was guaranteed to succeed and become another South Korea, just that it had a legitimate chance.

      With Iraq, you have a tribal culture that has no concept of national unity and no single cultural identity but rather 3 different ethno-religious ones and even within those various tribal factions that don’t get along well. The only way to turn Iraq into a functioning country is to install a new Saddam Hussein who maintains order with an iron fist and an implicit threat that should he be overthrown the US would come to his rescue.

  24. I recently came across this recount of the Vietnam War, complete with some interesting statistics. It’s the most accurate description of the war I’ve ever read.

    http://lzsally.com/archives/namfacts.html

    I will never forgive this country, particularly the Democrats in Congress who reneged on our treaty commitments in the Paris Peace Accord, for abandoning over 26 million people, who rose up to fight the communists during Tet, to the fate of a Communist takeover.

    From the link:

    91% of veterans of actual combat and 90% of those who saw heavy combat areproud to have served their country.

    66% of Viet vets say they would serve again, if called upon.

    87% of the public now holds Viet vets in high esteem.

    Only 25% of those of us who served in Vietnam were draftees. 75%, including me, were enlisted volunteers.

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