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OfflineSquattingMarmot
Inquiring Mind
Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 418
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Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq
    #1934135 - 09/20/03 02:02 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

The Atlanta Journel-Constitutional

Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq
By MAX CLELAND

The president of the United States decides to go to war against a nation led by a brutal dictator supported by one-party rule. That dictator has made war on his neighbors. The president decides this is a threat to the United States.

In his campaign for president he gives no indication of wanting to go to war. In fact, he decries the overextension of American military might and says other nations must do more. However, unbeknownst to the American public, the president's own Pentagon advisers have already cooked up a plan to go to war. All they are looking for is an excuse.

Based on faulty intelligence, cherry-picked information is fed to Congress and the American people. The president goes on national television to make the case for war, using as part of the rationale an incident that never happened. Congress buys the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- and passes a resolution giving the president the authority to use "all necessary means" to prosecute the war.

The war is started with an air and ground attack. Initially there is optimism. The president says we are winning. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense says we are winning. As a matter of fact, the secretary of defense promises the troops will be home soon.

However, the truth on the ground that the soldiers face in the war is different than the political policy that sent them there. They face increased opposition from a determined enemy. They are surprised by terrorist attacks, village assassinations, increasing casualties and growing anti-American sentiment. They find themselves bogged down in a guerrilla land war, unable to move forward and unable to disengage because there are no allies to turn the war over to.

There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

The president was Lyndon Johnson. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense was Robert McNamara. The congressional resolution was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The war was the war that I, U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain and 3 1/2 million other Americans of our generation were caught up in. It was the scene of America's longest war. It was also the locale of the most frustrating outcome of any war this nation has ever fought.

Unfortunately, the people who drove the engine to get into the war in Iraq never served in Vietnam. Not the president. Not the vice president. Not the secretary of defense. Not the deputy secretary of defense. Too bad. They could have learned some lessons:

? Don't underestimate the enemy. The enemy always has one option you cannot control. He always has the option to die. This is especially true if you are dealing with true believers and guerillas fighting for their version of reality, whether political or religious. They are what Tom Friedman of The New York Times calls the "non-deterrables." If those non-deterrables are already in their country, they will be able to wait you out until you go home.

? If the enemy adopts a "hit-and-run" strategy designed to inflict maximum casualties on you, you may win every battle, but (as Walter Lippman once said about Vietnam) you can't win the war.

? If you adopt a strategy of not just pre-emptive strike but also pre-emptive war, you own the aftermath. You better plan for it. You better have an exit strategy because you cannot stay there indefinitely unless you make it the 51st state.

If you do stay an extended period of time, you then become an occupier, not a liberator. That feeds the enemy against you.

? If you adopt the strategy of pre-emptive war, your intelligence must be not just "darn good," as the president has said; it must be "bulletproof," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed the administration's was against Saddam Hussein. Anything short of that saps credibility.

? If you want to know what is really going on in the war, ask the troops on the ground, not the policy-makers in Washington.

? In a democracy, instead of truth being the first casualty in war, it should be the first cause of war. It is the only way the Congress and the American people can cope with getting through it. As credibility is strained, support for the war and support for the troops go downhill. Continued loss of credibility drains troop morale, the media become more suspicious, the public becomes more incredulous and Congress is reduced to hearings and investigations.

Instead of learning the lessons of Vietnam, where all of the above happened, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and the deputy secretary of defense have gotten this country into a disaster in the desert.

They attacked a country that had not attacked us. They did so on intelligence that was faulty, misrepresented and highly questionable.

A key piece of that intelligence was an outright lie that the White House put into the president's State of the Union speech. These officials have overextended the American military, including the National Guard and the Reserve, and have expanded the U.S. Army to the breaking point.

A quarter of a million troops are committed to the Iraq war theater, most of them bogged down in Baghdad. Morale is declining and casualties continue to increase.

In addition to the human cost, the war in dollars costs $1 billion a week, adding to the additional burden of an already depressed economy.

The president has declared "major combat over" and sent a message to every terrorist, "Bring them on." As a result, he has lost more people in his war than his father did in his and there is no end in sight.

Military commanders are left with extended tours of duty for servicemen and women who were told long ago they were going home. We are keeping American forces on the ground, where they have become sitting ducks in a shooting gallery for every terrorist in the Middle East.

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn't go when you had the chance


--Max Cleland, former U.S. senator, was head of the Veterans Administration in the Carter administration. He teaches at American University in Washington.



--------------------
"In the United States anybody can be president. Thats the problem."

"The gray-haired douche bag, Barbara Bush, has a slogan: "Encourage your child to read every day." What she should be is encouraging children to question what they read every day."

- George Carlin


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Offlineshakta
Infidel
Registered: 06/03/03
Posts: 2,633
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: SquattingMarmot]
    #1934149 - 09/20/03 02:07 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Yawn. I already read this article and blew it off.


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OfflineSquattingMarmot
Inquiring Mind
Registered: 08/19/03
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: shakta]
    #1934227 - 09/20/03 02:32 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

I thought it was a well written article with many excellent points. I'm glad you can blow things off so easily. Do you think there is a cridible exit plan? How long will the $1 billion dollar a week occupation last before you run out of money?

What about the guerrila warfare that is currently being waged in Iraq, do you think that its going to stop anytime soon? Obviously Iraq hasn't claimed as many lives as Vietnam, but the US was there for a lot longer. Bush & Co. have learned nothing from Vietnam. They are repeating the exact same mistakes.


--------------------
"In the United States anybody can be president. Thats the problem."

"The gray-haired douche bag, Barbara Bush, has a slogan: "Encourage your child to read every day." What she should be is encouraging children to question what they read every day."

- George Carlin


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Offlineshakta
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: SquattingMarmot]
    #1934236 - 09/20/03 02:36 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

At the current death rate it we would have to be there for about 100 years for it to equal Viet Name in deaths. The price is sure to go down after a new government is created, and the country is rebuilt. I don't see any indications that we will have to maintain this size of force for years and years.


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InvisibleXlea321
Stranger
Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: shakta]
    #1934239 - 09/20/03 02:37 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Yawn. I already read this article and blew it off.

Not too surprised by that shak. You prefer 2 year old articles full of conjecture (as long as they agree with what you want to believe)

Excellent article. The parallels are striking.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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Offlineshakta
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: Xlea321]
    #1934260 - 09/20/03 02:46 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Yet another typical generalization from you Alex. I have posted one old article from one paper. You always post slanted op-ed peices such as this one and purport them to be fact. This war doesn't really resemble Viet Nam in the slightest. The enemy has pretty much been defeated. A new enemy has arrived in the country, and they will be defeated as well.


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InvisibleXlea321
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Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: shakta]
    #1934269 - 09/20/03 02:48 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

But you were making posts as tho that 2 year old article was accurate remember.

The enemy has pretty much been defeated

The number of times this was said about Vietnam...


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Don't worry, B. Caapi


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Offlineshakta
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: Xlea321]
    #1934274 - 09/20/03 02:49 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

The number of people fighting us still is miniscule to what we were fighting in Viet Nam. There is no organized enemy left to fight.


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: shakta]
    #1934287 - 09/20/03 02:54 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

There are a helluva lot more american troops in Iraq than there were 6 months into Vietnam.


--------------------
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Offlineshakta
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: Xlea321]
    #1934298 - 09/20/03 02:59 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Yeah we learned our lesson. The first six months of Vietnam only had advisors in country anyway.


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Offlinebarfightlard
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: SquattingMarmot]
    #1935242 - 09/20/03 01:00 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

History repeats itself, and we tend not to learn from our mistakes.


--------------------

"What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body - as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?" - Bill Hicks


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OfflinePhluck
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: barfightlard]
    #1935272 - 09/20/03 01:15 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

This is an erronious analogy. Just because the US did a few things that were similar to the way Vietnam started does not mean this will be another quagmire situation.

However, to assume that the US's involvement will result in stability in Iraq would be foolish.


--------------------
"I have no valid complaint against hustlers. No rational bitch. But the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes." -Hunter S Thompson
http://phluck.is-after.us


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InvisibleinfidelGOD
illusion

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 3,040
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: Phluck]
    #1935406 - 09/20/03 02:26 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

it's not a good analogy. in Iraq we're not dealing with an organized force like the Viet Cong, who had been fighting in the jungle for 20 years before we got there.

but I do agree with the title of the article:

"Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq"


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Anonymous

Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: SquattingMarmot]
    #1935426 - 09/20/03 02:37 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Quote:

If you adopt the strategy of pre-emptive war, your intelligence must be not just "darn good," as the president has said; it must be "bulletproof," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed the administration's was against Saddam Hussein. Anything short of that saps credibility.




excellent point.


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Offlineshakta
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: ]
    #1935878 - 09/20/03 06:03 PM (13 years, 2 months ago)

I agree with that as well. Our intelligence was faulty to say the least. The rest of the world's was as well. One thing though. Who buys into the Saddam kept up appearances of having them to prevent an attack? That is what the God Blix said the other day.


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InvisibleXlea321
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Registered: 02/26/01
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Re: Mistakes of Vietnam repeated with Iraq [Re: shakta]
    #1937066 - 09/21/03 03:59 AM (13 years, 2 months ago)

Our intelligence was faulty to say the least.

Funny how it was faulty in exactly the way George Bush wanted it tho... :rolleyes:


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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