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Insurgents Will Fight Us for 300 Years

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I’d be honored if you would borrow this, use it as a template, or use it as a spur for your own letter to the editor. I just sent this to our paper today. It’s 139 words.


I always remember Ho Chi Minh, the winning Vietnam general, saying, “We live here. We would have fought you for 300 years.”

The Vietnam Memorial, with its 58,249 forlorn names, is 150 yards long. If there were a memorial to the Vietnam dead with the names written end to end, the list would be nine miles long. We’re not going to beat this insurgency in Iraq. There is no front line, no identifiable uniformed army to crush by might and determination. There are nine miles worth of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) planters. Their young men commit suicide wearing cheap bomb belts. Ours use expensive Hummers and tanks. They’ll die nine miles worth. They’ll fight us for 300 years.

The Murtha Option of immediately re-deploying a quick-strike force to Kuwait and otherwise taking the fuel of occupation out of their fire seems sensible.

Remember that you always have to submit your name, street address, and phone number with a letter to the editor.

ps. Frank Gehry & Bilbao are an antidote to this poisonous war.

It would be an honor to have you visit pogblog.

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  • Ruvy,
    thanks for the correction. I had checked a few sources on the spelling of Dyan vs. Dayan and for some reason found both out there. I had started with Dayan, then went “I’m not spelling this right.”
    found one source that used Dyan…and probably didn’t check its own reliability carefully enough.

    the point remains though that the parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is not the countries themselves, but the US strategy or lack of one in both wars.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    I prefer to keep my soul – so I’ll have to keep the debts as well. :o(

  • Ruvy .. there’s one catch — you have to change your name to Chalabi or Halliburton. Then, by Gosh, you’d bathe in Money. You lose your soul — but you could pay off your debts.

    If we gave George some Truth Serum, Bliffle, he’d have to say, “Stay the stupid course” which wouldn’t sound so John Wayne.

  • Bliffle

    The problem with Bush is his indecisiveness and lack of strategy. “Stay the course” is not a strategy, it is a hope. A hope that things will improve with time, the the Cavalry will ride onto the scene. But exactly the opposite is true: as time goes by the insurgents gain strength AND home opposition to the war increases. Both trends spell disaster. If we Stay The Course. It’s a stupid policy and a stupid thing to say.

  • MCH

    Re comment #15;
    “Some people – mostly MCH – don’t get the fact that you can have an opinion on war without actually being a soldier.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Oh, I get it, Nalle. I just prefer to take the word of a 3-tour Vietnam War combat veteran and the former Air Force Chief of Staff (General McPeak, comment #5) over someone who’s never served.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Most of this is not my business – except for the proximity of your soldiers to my border – but just two points…

    The fellow who wrote the damning analysis of America’s lack of Vietnam strategy was named Moshe Dayan, not Dyan.

    This “ask and you shall receive” business referred to in comment #21. If I could get just one minute’s worth of financing from the US government in its Iraqi troubles ($200,000), I’d be in great financial shape. I could pay off all our debts, and maybe buy the apartment we are living in…. Nine hundred thousand shekels is a lot of money.

    Who do I ask and when do I receive?

  • Sorry, Bliffle, I’m terminally into titanium. A titanium fetish seems more fun and fruitful than a white phosphorus or water boarding fetish, so I’m sticking with it. I also love that the Gugg Bil looks as if it were about to fall down, but doesn’t — making it one of the early truly modern buildings — since only a computer could give it that dangerous look. At least Bilbao made a gallant municipal effort to quantum into the future. I predict that in a decade they will reap huge rewards as we transmogrify from the dinosaur military world to the coming art and more art world.

    The idea of singers tra la la’d by singing to their sheep is awfully tempting however.

    I caddied for my first husband who had a 2 handicap so I never could quite accept what would be my junk-golf.

    Now, if I could just snuggle up to Chalabi, soon to be one of the richest men on Earth, like Judy Miller, maybe he’d foot my ticket to the coast of Spain? Chalabi doesn’t even have to bother to “rob” our treasury. He learned long ago that ‘Ask & you shall receive’ works miraculously for him.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    I already read the better version of this post.

  • LOL troll. Good try, but several of those ‘permanent’ bases have ALREADY been turned over to the Iraqis. One of them is one of those I mentioned earlier, in fact. The bases may be permanent, but that doesn’t mean the US is going to control them.


  • Bliffle

    So, we have 300 years of insurgency to look forward to in Iraq. The Iraqi Establishment Bozos who are bickering over how next to rob the US funded treasury are incapable of establishing security so we will be there 300 years. Oh joy.

    Spare yourself the trip to Bilbao, a miserable town in a depressed area that has lost it’s economic industrial base. It is not improved by the ugly kitsch museum of Gehry. Architecture is the most prostituted of the arts, as the dollar amounts are so huge. Instead, go to San Sebastian: the food is better, it’s a shorter drive from Biaritz, it has a nice bay and a nice church. And at the right time in the summer they have a Basque festival which has a few minutes worth of peculiar music played on peculiar ten whistles by arbitrarily large bands, but redeemed by male shepherd singers who develop good voices by singing to their sheep all year long in the Pyrenees. And if you like golf Biaritz is the place for you. Many good courses everywhere: bring a cashmere sweater to tie around your neck in the evenings and you’ll be invited to marvelous dinners and parties by the locals and the summer crowd.

  • troll

    go here to read more about this *completely untrue talking point issue bogused up by the left*


  • Dave Nalle

    but the neocon agenda as outlined by the PNAC members who form the current Administrations staff (Perle has left and Wolfowitz got promoted to run the World Bank) needed an excuse to begin their imperialistic agenda…and Saddam was an easy target

    Except, of course that with Libby also gone there are no major Neocon figures left in the administration. Like so many others you’re confusing anything vaguely hawkish with being Neocon in origin.

    so now we will build our mid-east bases in Iraq and take them out of Saudi Arabia

    Except, of course, that we’re not building permanent bases there and are even handing over bases that we have built so far to the Iraqis. Here are a couple of links on turnovers – FOB Dibis, Camp Scunion – well, BC only lets me put two in a comment, but do a search on google and you’ll find many more.

    The whole ‘permanent basis in Iraq’ thing is yet another completely untrue talking point issue bogused up by the left and easily disproven.


  • Dave Nalle

    Some people – mostly MCH – don’t get the fact that you can have an opinion on war without actually being a soldier. War effects everyone not just those who fight in the trenches, and it’s as much a matter of politics and policy as it is of guns and bullets. It isn’t soldiers who make the decision who to fight and when to fight them, it’s politicians and administrators. Therefore it’s not just soldiers who have a right to an opinion about when war is justified and whether it should be fought. I’ll gladly defer to those with military backgrounds on issues of tactics, but when it comes to the political necessity of war I expect them to respect the opinions of those with some background in government and diplomacy – or just to regular citizens who are concerned about our national policies.


  • Anyone no the story of Moshe Dyan and his look at American involvement in Vietnam? Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at Hebrew University, tells a devastating story about Dyan being shocked to find that no American policy maker had an explicit plan to win the war.

    I looked at the Strategy to Win the War, revealed some 3 years into this war. I think Dyan would have had a very similar reaction.

    It’s isn’t the similarities between Vietnam and Iraq that should scare us, its the similarities between US policy in Vietnam and Iraq that should worry us.

  • Justin Berry

    Gonzo, you make me wonder if we found weapons but did not show them because they said “made in the U.S.A” on the side. 41 was C.I.A when we were in bed with Saddam.
    PogBlog, I hope that we learned in Vietnam that our resolve and our support of our troops must be stronger than the foreign insurgents.
    By not taking the oil that is rightfully ours by the law of the jungle and the spoils of war it should be evident to anyone that our interest is in the people of Iraq and the security of Isreal.

  • In Vietnam we had few people who knew the language. Fewer who knew the history or the culture. Most of the most rabid pro-war folk getting deferred here at home could not have found Vietnam on the map. It was a grotesque macro-historic miscalculation. It had almost nothing to do with Vietnam itself. It was supposed to be a pipsqueak pushover which would display our bulging balls to the Soviets and the Chinese. It all went terribly wrong, largely because of our ignorant John Wayne-ism.

    It’s so hard to say, Justin, when you’re so brave and so charred, but it would have been about 56,122 brave guys better to have quit pretending Vietnam was a worthy cause at 2127 US dead back then. The 5 million Vietnamese count too.

    I think we should be able to separate out the astonishing loyalty to their brothers and f**king raw courage of our soldiers from the insanely miscalculated mission. Saddam was vile, but there are much viler floating around the planet. We aren’t Democracy 911.

    The reason a true multinational operation works better is because there isn’t one Big Bully to hate and galvanize resistance. The other young men there see themselves as heroes fighting the Occupyer. Not so different from how we felt about the British back when.

    Heroes killing heroes. It breaks my heart. None of the young men on other side is evil. They’ve been sold a flag, a prayer — various brightly colored trinkets, like giving beads to the Native Americans. The rotters are the civilian folks who never get blood on their boots and the brass who know better but won’t speak out. Colin Powell knew better. He should have resigned in protest and saved all the human treasure. Generals now will speak truth to Murtha, but not risk their careers to quit in public protest.

    Justin, MCH, I just can’t think the Big Lie is worth one more soldier’s life? At some point like in Vietnam, we’ll make an excuse and leave, having accomplished nothing but the whirlwind.

  • gonzo marx

    comment #8 sez…
    *Do I feel that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? Yes of course he did he used them on the Kurds.*

    now, correct me if i am wrong…but this gassing incident you are talking about…was it the one in the late 80’s after the Iran/Iraq war, which we sold him the weapons…or the one after the first Gulf War when we dropped the “no-fly” zone for a week or so after abandoning the Kurds in their failed rebellion attempt against Saddam that we instigated via CIA operations?

    either way, i know we are all Aware that the weapons Inspectors who were there for years found nothing…their complaint was that they did not feel they had unfettered access…a very legitamate concern when looking for hidden shit in a dictatorship…we found no such WMD after telling those Inspectors to get out because we were heading in

    tough stuff there…but all in all, i have always Thought it a major Distraction(as per General Tony McPeak’s quote in comment #5)from our real goal…which is to fight back against the al Qaeda fuckers that attacked us

    i know, i know..we are fighting a few of them there now..but they were NOT there before we invaded…every solier and every dollar we are spending in Iraq is one each less we are using against the foes that attacked us

    but the neocon agenda as outlined by the PNAC members who form the current Administrations staff (Perle has left and Wolfowitz got promoted to run the World Bank) needed an excuse to begin their imperialistic agenda…and Saddam was an easy target

    so now we will build our mid-east bases in Iraq and take them out of Saudi Arabia

    that seems to satisfy the beginning of both the Neocon agenda, who want to expand in that region and bin Laden who wants our bases out of the Saudi Arabian “holy lands”

    can someone tell me how all this is a good thing for Americans, our military personnel, our National Interest and Security, our bringing bin Laden to justice, or our budget

    just curious


  • Justin Berry

    Yes, MCH I have checked them all. I could not face my brothers in Iraq without letting them know that I support anything that they do to come home and live as a hero. To sleep peacefully through the night and rejoice when a young Iraqi girl fresh from the University of Bagdhad cures cancer. I am grateful for your service also MCH but I dont require it for your opinion.

  • MCH


    Thankyou for your service to our country. You and I will have agree to disagree regarding our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Have you ever checked out the Veterans Against the Iraq War or Iraq Veterans Against the War web sites?

    “Support the troops, oppose the policy”
    – MCH, USN ’70-74

  • Justin Berry

    Pogblog, would your father feel the same if he had served in vietnam? I feel that no matter the quagmire we owe it to my brothers to (at least pretend) that they are there for a worthy cause. I know that I spent sleepless nights, was shot at, and bombed to cover Monica. Do I feel that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? Yes of course he did he used them on the Kurds. If A person kills a member of his family, snubs his nose at the police from inside his home, burglarizes his neighbors home and kicks the police, who have search warrant(12 or so),out of his house. How many police should be sacrificed to render him defenseless? What if his wife objects? How do his children (subjects…Sunnis, Kurds) feel?

  • Somehow my Letter to the Editor escaped the trash and was published yesterday.

    I don’t think of the soldiers as warmongers. I just don’t think the $200,000 per minute we’re spending on Iraq in chaotic, if not frantic, destruction is building a future in which America and democracy are admired or envied. Imposed democracy doesn’t work.

    None of the anti-war people I happen to know are hippies. They are not bored. They are intensely concerned to bring home the troops intact in life and limb. I can promise you that my father, an Air Force major in WW2, was never a hippie and doesn’t do bored either.

    The fact that I see Iraq as an exceedingly stupidly planned quaqsand does not diminish your courage or sacrifice by one iota. The fact that my good friend’s kid got his head blown off in Ramadi is a waste. An utter waste. He thought the Iraq mission completely sucked, but he loved his men. His bravery and smarts, like yours, were things of extraordinary beauty and duty. I’m so glad you made it back alive.

  • Justin Berry

    Dave I believe that you have a stalker. MCH i know that you will call me a war-monger but you would be wrong. I have several combat action ribbons as Ive told you before. YES, I still have nightmares. The one thing that gives me comfort is when I see POSITIVE stories from those places. I can even forgive the circumstances that got me there, when I feel that A nation is grateful for my sacrifices. I feel that the Iraqi nation will be grateful for my brothers sacrifices. What I see as the anti-war movement are bored Hippies, just looking for attention.

  • MCH

    Re comment #3 by Dave Nalle;

    Here’s an opposing point of view from someone who’s actually served in the military:

    “There is one sense in which the parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is valid,” according to Air Force General Merril (Tony) McPeak, retired. “The American people were told back then that to win the Cold War we had to win Vietnam. But we now know that Vietnam was not only a diversion from winning the Cold War, but probably delayed our winning it and made it cost more to win. Iraq is a diversion to the war on terror in exactly the same way Vietnam was a diversion to the Cold War.”

    General Tony McPeak’s military experience:
    **U.S. Air Force, 37 years active duty (1957-94)
    **3 tours in Vietnam, 37th and 31st Tactical Fighter Wings (1968-70)
    **Flew 269 combat missions “In Country” in ‘Nam as an F-100 Super Sabre tactical fighter pilot and high speed forward air controller
    **U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, 1990-94

    Dave Nalle’s military experience:
    **None (zero)

  • tommyd

    The invading occupiers are always at a disadvantage in fighting insurgencies. Just the expenditure itself on occupying a nation is unsustainable. People like Dave Nalle seem to always forget and throw away all the abundant lessons of history that show illegal occupiers and illegal invasions always fail, some sooner, some later on, but they always end up failing.
    Do I really need to list them all?

    And also, I must laugh at Dave’s insinuation that, although we supported a corrupt South Vietnamese regime which was doomed to fail, somehow in Iraq our support for the Iraqi regime is just wholesome and couldn’t be corrupt. Well, Dave is wrong. The corrupted, lying, bank thief, non-Iraqi Ahmed Chalabi is firmly ensconced in the new Iraqi “government” and he is as corrupt as they get. If America wasn’t in Iraq holding the country together, Chalabi would be strung up on a lightpost somewhere in Baghdad.

    Iraq and Vietnam are definately different wars, but in principle they’re the same and the outcomes will be the same, yet people like Dave support these wars 1000%, even though they try to claim they’re just good ‘ol conservatives…but at the end of the day, Dave & Company support Empire and Wars of Aggression and America’s Divine Right to venture into any part of the world in pursuit of forming the New World Order of Corporate American Fascism.

    Nice platform to support there Dave, whether you realize it or not.

  • I don’t understand how people can keep commiting the gross error of drawing a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam. In Vietnam there was a complete enemy nation with a population in the millions to fight, plus a massive and popular insurgency AND we were supporting a corrupt dictatorship,

    In Iraq there is no enemy nation, a numerically tiny and increasingly unpopular insurgency and a popularly elected and relatively (by the standards of the region) uncorrupt government.

    Making the comparison just doesn’t work at all, and putting it in your LTE makes it likely that any sensible editor will just send it to the circular file.

    If you’re going to write an anti-war LTE you’d be a lot more effective if you concentrated on the human and financial costs which are at least valid concerns.


  • You’re right that General Giap was a mastermind, but the words I quoted were from Ho Chi Minh.

    One of the greatest things about Gehry’s museum is that people tend to feel passionately about it one way or the other. I haven’t had the luck to go to Bilbao, though as a child I went to the opening day of the Guggenheim in New York (also ‘poor for showing art’ according to many). It ripped my heart out and poured art in.

    My friend who went to Bilbao thought it was the greatest place to see art that she had ever seen in her many travels. Her postcard to me said, “It puts the two sides of my brain together in a whole new way. It shifted the kaleidoscope of my ability to see. It knocked me off my feet and I stood up with new sight.”

    How lucky for you that you actually got to see it for yourself. I envy you.

  • Bliffle

    Wrong on two counts: it was General Giap who masterminded the North Vietnamese army (cf. “Peoples Army, Peoples War”). And the Gehry museum in Bilbao is an eyesore that does a poor job of showing art.