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Not Every War is Vietnam

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In thinking about the war in Iraq I was prompted to reflect on the Vietnam War and the differences between the two situations and in particular how the irrational response of many liberals to the Iraq war is largely the result of their now-ingrained or even inherited response to Vietnam.

Looked back on from the vantage point of history 30 years later, the Vietnam war was clearly a mistake, not just in how it was executed – which we don’t need to go into here – but on the most fundamental, conceptual level. Ostensibly we went into Vietnam as we had gone into Korea before it, to stop the spread of international communism and make sure that Vietnam did not become the first step in the communist takeover of all of Southeast Asia.

This motivation for entering the war was mistaken for a number of reasons. We started out from the flawed assumption that communism was a truly viable political ideology and a genuine competitor for capitalism. This is something which we should have known at the time and which history has now proven to be true, but as a nation we were too consumed by fear of communism and not confident enough in our own ideology to merely sit back and let things take their natural course. The truth is that communism was never a viable political system, but merely window dressing adopted by dictators and perverted to serve their needs. Even the Soviet Union wasn’t really practicing communism, and even as an empire the USSR was already doomed as early as the 1960s, because with every new expansion and every new conquest they stretched their resources thinner and thinner. Had we not intervened in Korea and Vietnam and other places around the world in the 1960s it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the Soviet Union would have collapsed under its own weight even sooner than it did. To some extent our opposition gave it a certain amount of competitivel drive which it might not have had otherwise.

If our opposition to the expansion of communism and Soviet influence was mistaken, is our opposition to Islamic extremism and our War on Terror equally misguided? Many on the left seem to think so – their beliefs have been shaped by the era of Vietnam, taking the mistakes of that war and extending them to all wars and taking the excesses of our government in that situation and assuming that any government which takes us into war is equally corrupt and duplicitous.

There’s no question that the governments formed on the principles of radical Islam are just as evil or perhaps even more reprehensible than Soviet puppet dictatorships were. While communism as an ideology was easily perverted to oppression and abuse, at heart is was a relatively humane philosophy. Radical Islam on the other hand has built into it support for slavery, an opposition to education, extreme oppression of women, complete intolerance of freedom of expression and expansionist tendancies which make Stalinism look moderate.

While Communism wanted to subvert and dominate its enemies for their own good, radical Islam wants to destroy their enemies for being infidels. While communism took over innocent third world countries and dragged them halfway into the modern era through the implementation of inefficient collectivism, it was never given to vengeful acts of violence against civilian populations. The communists wanted to win over our proletariat, not blow them up or poison them. And that’s the key difference. Whatever their flaws and despite their atheism, communism placed a pretty high value on human life. In contrast, radical Islam values all human life at a low price, especially the lives of unbelievers and has no interest in conversion or subversion or any form of inclusion. You could negotiate with the communists for mutual benefit. All you can do to please Al Quaeda is die.

So there’s the difference. We didn’t need to fight Vietnam, but chose to do it out of a mistaken policy of defending ourselves. That makes the situation in Iraq look a lot like Vietnam superficially, but while our fears about communist expansion may have been exaggerated, our fear of terrorism and radical Islam is not. The Soviet Union wanted to take over the world and wanted us to stay out of its way. Radical Islam and its terrorist agents are driven by a hatred the communists never felt. They want to destroy us out of pure vengeance and resentment, a position which does not respond to reason or diplomacy, but only to clearly demonstrated superior force.

You’re going to ask at this point why we went into Iraq if it was not a haven of radical Islam under Sadam. But the truth is that it was an easier nut to crack than Iran, having already been weakened by sanctions and the prior war. It’s positioning is ideal for putting pressure on the problem countries all around it. Plus, as it turned out, all the terrorists in the Middle East conveniently decided to come to Iraq so we could kill them a handful at a time until they run out of brainwashed trigger men from impoverished countries like Yemen and Sudan to throw at us. So ultimately, even unexpectedly in many ways, Iraq has proven to be the perfect place to focus our efforts to break the growing power of Radical Islam.

Iraq is not Vietnam. In Vietnam we fought for a principle. In Iraq we are fighting for much more practical and pragmatic reasons and with a concrete, identifiable goal.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://leoniceno.journalspace.com Leoniceno

    Good article. I’m so tired of people trying to predict what will take place in Iraq based on comparison to Vietnam. It’s a false analogy.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Exactly, Leon. Not only is it a different kind of country and a different situation, but we’re a different country as well. Our objectives and our needs are radically different. I don’t think we’d ever fall into the trap of a real Vietnam-like situation again. We CAN learn from experience.

    Dave

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    We haven’t lost too many troops since the January elections.

    We are clearly WINNING.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Yes, the body count is down substantially in the last two months. And have you been following the raids on terrorist hideouts which the Iraqi security forces have been making? Pretty impressive. They caught 80 terrorists in a single raid last week and there are raids every week. At that rate there won’t be enough terrorist left to cause much trouble.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    If by Communism, we mean that society should do more than make the trains run on time, then it seems only natural and right that the state should get involved, for the good of all.

    If by Communism, we mean the overbearing intrusion into people’s lives that went on in Russia and China, then obviously that was a bad thing.

    I can’t believe that ANY sane person wants to see the homeless and other vulnerable people suffering in the streets of our lovely homes, so it just comes down to the question of how are we going to deal with the people who lose in the great capitalist ratrace. There are too many of them to ignore…

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    RJ: The most heavily armed nation on earth versus some peasants that have been bombed back to the Stone Age, and you’re WINNING!?!?

    Way to go, well done there, real solid achievement.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    They were already in the stone age!

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    i prefer the stoned age personally

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    The Iraqis and Al Quaeda are hardly stone age people. Al Quaeda coordinates their activities with satellite phones and through the internet – wow, just like the cave men!

    Dave

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Dean

    While I agree with your comments on not viewing the Iraq war through the prism of the Vietnam experience, but I’m not sure you can equate radical Islam and Communism.

    First, bluntly, the good old USSR was a far more potent and devestating threat to the West than radical Islam has ever been. Yes the USSR eventually collapsed under the strain of matching western capabilities, and the system in place ein the USSR was(and still is) highly corrupt but they were miles ahead as an enemy then anything radical Islam can field.

    Is Radical Islam a threat? Hell yes! Keeping WMD out of their hands is a serious security concern but let’s keep it in perspective. This is a still relatively weak and powerless foe – which is why they do not seek direct confrontation or battle, battle through proxies, bomb civilian targets etc.).

    Can it still kill people – yes. Will it continue ad infinitem – yes. The reality is that you cannot stamp out radical Islam through military force. Often military force will accelerate and radicalize a struggle far moreso than not applying the force.

    Is democracy the answer? – Maybe. Partially. Democracy by itself may not improve matters. What are you going to do if a nation (like say – Algeria) holds an election and democratically elects a radical or fundamentalist Islamic majority? In order to effectively move to negate the influence and role of Radical Islam, you need to work to bring economic opportunity and change to the vast, impoverished mass of people current disenfranchised and economically crippled across the Middle East. The appeal of radical theocracy will diminish over time as economic opportunity grows.

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    I think I more compared radical islam and communism than equated them, but you bring me to that point when you point out:

    “The appeal of radical theocracy will diminish over time as economic opportunity grows.”

    And that’s exactly right. But those same economic forces are what encouraged third world nations to move towards Communism 50 years ago. You bring to mind a parallel between radical islam and communism I hadn’t really considered until now.

    People who are in dire economic circumstances look for a solution outside of themselves to make decisions, solve their problems and take responsibility for advancing and improving their conditions. Both Communism and Radical Islam fulfill this role perfectly. They provide centralized authoritarian leadership which promises to move the whole society forward to the benefit of all.

    It really makes more sense to compare Communism to a theocracy than to any other political system. Adherence to Communism has always been more a matter of faith than of reason, and the tenets of communism are usually expected to be taken on faith and revered ritualistically – consider Mao’s Little Red Book.

    So in a lot of way the two function similarly and they certainly appeal to the same ‘market’. It’s something to ponder on.

    Dave

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Dean

    I’ve always found a circle to be a more useful political “map” then the traditional “left” and “right” spectrum. My experience has been that the extremes, whether left or right, have far more in common then not. Communism and facism share many similar characteristics and traits, not the least of which is intolerance of dissent, systemic use of violence and the threat of violence, loss of political freedoms, massive use of propaganda and misinformation, authoritarian government, high levels of militarization, and a narcassistic love of gaudy uniforms…

    I do think you need to differentiate radical Islam as a political force from religion entirely. It is, in my mind, a politicized entity/ideology that has suborned the protection of Islam as its excuse. Radical Islam leverages the Islamic faith for its attacks on the power structure. I think that we in the more secular west forget that politics and religion are often inextricably entwined (anyone recall the Reformation?) and there is a tendency to try to apply comparative models that are often not directly comprabale. That’s not to say it isn’t useful to cmpare them, but keep the differences in mind while doing so.

  • SFC Ski

    “I do think you need to differentiate radical Islam as a political force from religion entirely.”
    Part of the problem with this statement is that for many Muslims, there is no distinction between the religious, legal, and political. I am oversimplifying to a great extent, but to radical Islamicists, the personal is political and all is centered around the Koran, the Sharia Law, and the Hadith, the life of Mohammed. There is an entire Muslim scholarship centered around finding the answers to Muslim modern living based on these sources. It is a bit more complex than can be explained here, but I hope you can understand that there is no divorcing the political from the religious for many Muslims.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Part of the problem with this statement is that for many Muslims, there is no distinction between the religious, legal, and political.<<

    That’s certainly the message the theocrats are pushing. And I can see the appeal. There’s a certain attractiveness to the idea that a single, unified philosophy can cover everything from your home life to your business practices to your government and law. Pity the document they chose to base that philosophy on was that compilation of contradictory lunacy known as the Koran.

    Dave

  • Eric Olsen

    what of the concept that even Vietnam wasn’t “Vietnam”

  • SFC Ski

    Dave, it’s comments like the last that pull your threads away from something worth continuing into sidebars on unrelated topics. Taken at face value, no religion makes sense.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Religions are all based on faith, Ski. But have you read the Koran? It’s a pretty rough mess to swallow.

    But I agree, we’ve got other places to discuss fundamentalist Islam and religious lunacy.

    I’d like to see Eric expand on the idea that even Vietnam wasn’t ‘vietnam’. I’ve heard that idea before, but it seems highly subjective.

    Dave

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Dean

    “It is a bit more complex than can be explained here, but I hope you can understand that there is no divorcing the political from the religious for many Muslims. ”

    I agree. I think we are actually saying pretty well the same thing (except, damn you, you phrased it much better!). The fact that Islam and politics are inseperable in this manner allows the Bin Ladin’s of the world to hijack the religious direction in pursuit of political goals. I think it is important to understand the connections in this case to have the capability to effectively and strategically fight against the fanatics.

  • Eric Olsen

    in a nutshell, the “Vietnam Syndrome” of extreme reluctance to interfere in the internal squabbles of other nations isn’t based on a realistic understanding of the actual facts of the war

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    We’ve certianly seen that in action. During the Clinton administration it was manifested by the desire to go into warlike situations and an unwillingness to commit to them fully and completely. In a way the fear of another Vietnam makes half-hearted interventions into lots of mini-Vietnams.

    Dave

  • Mark

    This posting contains an interesting attempt to clarify our discussion of communism by distinguishing communist theory from the “communism” of totalitarian states that called themselves communist. Further, the author points out clear differences between our “enemies” in Vietnam and Iraq making the point that the conflicts are apples and oranges. He should have stopped there. Instead, he proceeds to make unsubstantiated claims similar to those presented by Administration representatives to justify our position in Iraq.

    Some examples:

    < >

    What evidence supports this belief? Have the religious teachers in Saudi Arabia stopped their inflammatory rhetoric? Is the pool of radicalized Muslims not growing? Why believe that they are all going to Iraq? What if only a small handful of them are going while the rest try to organize destabilizing events elsewhere?

    < >

    What does this statement mean? Vengeance and resentment are reactions. What are the actions linked to these reactions. Without filling in the blanks, the statement is adds nothing to the debate.

    Might Islamic terrorist organizations develop in response to occupation? Russia occupied Afghanistan; Israel occupies whatever it is that you want to call that territory; the US occupied Iran economically through loans and construction projects under the Shah and now occupies Saudi Arabia directly with our military bases and economically through the Royal Family; terrorist beheadings began in Iraq after the US occupied the area. At least this is an idea to discuss. Perhaps the radicals are more rational than the author would have us believe.

    [Radical Islam’s position] < < does not respond to reason or diplomacy, but only to clearly demonstrated superior force. >>

    This is an optimistic though baseless belief. Will radical Islamic terrorists fold in the face of superior force? TE Lawrence pointed out that Bedouin strategic logic is that of the dessert warrior – a logic of hit and run and patience that we became familiar with later in Vietnam. (So there might be some similarities, after all.) Radical Arabs have that to teach to their fellows.

    The author might consider restricting himself to critical analysis and leave the propaganda relating to the war to the Administration.

  • Eric Olsen

    agreed Dave: GW’s breakthrough was a willingness to fully commit

  • Mark

    Good grief. The quotes are:

    “as it turned out, all the terrorists in the Middle East conveniently decided to come to Iraq so we could kill them a handful at a time until they ran out of brainwashed trigger men”

    “Radical Islam and its terrorist agents … want to destroy us out of pure vengeance and resentment”

  • http://www.psychopundit.com Dave Nalle

    Mark wrote:

    >>What evidence supports this belief? Have the religious teachers in Saudi Arabia stopped their inflammatory rhetoric? < <

    They are actually getting quieter for fear of a government crackdown, yes.

    >>Is the pool of radicalized Muslims not growing?< <

    Certainly not in Iraq.

    >> Why believe that they are all going to Iraq? What if only a small handful of them are going while the rest try to organize destabilizing events elsewhere?< <

    The evidence doesn't support this. A vast number of terrorists flooded into Iraq in the wake of the war and have systematically been killed and arrested since then. Yes there are other terrorists elsewhere, but Iraq did become a magnet for many of them and an opportunity to neutralize those particular terrorists.

    >>What does this statement mean? Vengeance and resentment are reactions. What are the actions linked to these reactions. Without filling in the blanks, the statement is adds nothing to the debate. < <

    Resentment of wealth. Vengeance for supporting Israel. I would have thought these things were obvious. When I write an article I do assume the reader has a basic knowledge of current affairs.

    >>Might Islamic terrorist organizations develop in response to occupation? Russia occupied Afghanistan; Israel occupies whatever it is that you want to call that territory;< <

    Well sure they can develop that way. But the Taliban and Mojehedin in Afghanistan started out as genune freedom fighters, not Terrorists. Terrorists don't attack occupiers, they attack innocent third parties to attempt to draw attention to their cause.

    >>the US occupied Iran economically through loans and construction projects under the Shah and now occupies Saudi Arabia directly with our military bases and economically through the Royal Family; < <

    Really debatable. And can you argue that people in Iran were not better off under the Shah? Hundreds of thousands of expatriots would disagree with you.

    >>terrorist beheadings began in Iraq after the US occupied the area. At least this is an idea to discuss. Perhaps the radicals are more rational than the author would have us believe.< <

    So you agree with my point that our invasion of Iraq drew the terrorists there, then?

    >>[Radical Islam’s position] < < does not respond to reason or diplomacy, but only to clearly demonstrated superior force. >>

    This is an optimistic though baseless belief.<<

    This is a belief held almost universally by those who have studied the history and present political dynamics of the region.

    Dave

  • Mark

    Where your reply to questions is responsive it is based on an appeal to authority and to the “obvious” without citing sources. Hardly appropriate even in blogworld. Also, you need to work on the art of constructing straw dogs. eg: Who said that the people of Iran are better off under their present government than under the Shah? Who said that the war brought no Islamic terrorists to Iraq?

    There is inconsistency in your idea of just who is a terrorist. You say, “Terrorists don’t attack occupiers, they attack innocent third parties to attempt to draw attention to their cause.” Then you claim that terrorists flodded Iraq to after the war to attack … who? Were they all looking for innocent heads to cut off? So are the terrorists who come to Iraq freedom fighters now because they attack the occupier? In your attempt to clarify, your idea became more unclear.

    Just who do you think our war on terror is really against? Is it terrorists, freedom fighters, or radical Islamics generally?

    Mark

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Where your reply to questions is responsive it is based on an appeal to authority and to the “obvious” without citing sources. Hardly appropriate even in blogworld. < <

    Sorry, sometimes I forget that what's common knowledge to 99% of all informed people is a mystery to a small number. For them it's baby steps all the way.

    >>Also, you need to work on the art of constructing straw dogs.< <

    I have no interest in constructing straw dogs at all. I deal in reality, not spin.

    >> eg: Who said that the people of Iran are better off under their present government than under the Shah? < <

    No one. I said that they were better off under the Shah. I lived there under the Shah and I've read extensively on conditions there now, and I'm in a position to make this statement.

    >>Who said that the war brought no Islamic terrorists to Iraq? < <

    No one sensible would say that. Are you saying that someone did?

    >>There is inconsistency in your idea of just who is a terrorist. You say, “Terrorists don’t attack occupiers, they attack innocent third parties to attempt to draw attention to their cause.” Then you claim that terrorists flodded Iraq to after the war to attack … who? Were they all looking for innocent heads to cut off? So are the terrorists who come to Iraq freedom fighters now because they attack the occupier? In your attempt to clarify, your idea became more unclear.< <

    Sorry, baby steps, I'll try to remember. Among the innocent third parties I suppose I should include the US Army who are not occupiers, but liberators. Does that make it any clearer? Or you could define them as people who make their attacks not on behalf of the people of the country they are fighting in, but on behalf of a political agenda which they espouse, but which the people of the country in which they are acting do not necessarily endorse and would not benefit from. They're terrorists because just like occupiers, they come to the country to impose their will on it by means of violence without regard to the wishes of the people. Is that clear enough?

    >>Just who do you think our war on terror is really against? Is it terrorists, freedom fighters, or radical Islamics generally?<<

    I think the war should be against terrorists, but our diplomatic efforts should be directed at radical islamists as well. Freedom fighters don’t really figure in right now because there really aren’t any in Iraq, except maybe the Iraqi security forces who are fighting the terrorists.

    Dave

  • Mark

    Are you preaching to the choir or do you want people who question your ideas to read your work? If the latter, then you’d best keep to ‘baby steps’. And one such baby step that you need to take is towards intellectual honesty; when you say something like, “This is a belief held almost universally by those who have studied the history and present political dynamics of the region”, add a name or two or a reference so that those of us who want to follow up can do so.

    Read you around, Mark

    Your redefinition of “terrorist” doesn’t clarify much.

  • SFC Ski

    “Are you preaching to the choir or do you want people who question your ideas to read your work?”
    Amen, brother.

  • MCH

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

    “There is one sense in which the parallel between Vietnam and Iraq is valid,” said General Merril (Tony) McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff, 1990-94. “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:
    **37 years Air Force active duty (1957-94);
    **3 tours in Vietnam, 37th and 31st Tactical Fighter Wings (1968-70);
    **269 combat missions “In-Country” in Nam as an F-100 Super Sabre tactical fighter pilot and high speed forward air controller.

    Dave Nalle’s military experience:
    **NONE.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    So, he’s an experienced soldier and he makes what is essentially a political comparison. His military experience doesn’t necessarily make him particularly qualified to comment on the political significance of the two wars. If he were comparing the fighting conditions of the two wars I would take him seriously, but his poltical opinion is no m ore qualified than that of anyone else.

    After all, MCH. You have military experience, yet you show that you have no good sense whatsoever on any issues at all.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    interesting bit from MCH with the quote..

    one thing that does validate the General’s viewpoint is from a military strategic position…

    Logistics

    if manpower and intelligence Resources are being spent anywhere else but where vitally needed to accomplish overarching Goals…then they dilute the process of accomplishing the missions task

    the General is highly Qualified to make such an assessment

    that has also been my main argument against the initial timing of the Iraq campaign without accomplishing the vital strategic goals in Afghanistan first…

    i do agree we are in a sticky mess in regards to Iraq, since we broke it, we need to fix it…

    but this would neccessitate an increase in Resources both in Iraq to accomplish the Task, and in Afghanistan/Pakistan to root out the regrowing problems there

    your mileage may vary

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Agreed, Gonzo. The force in Iraq right now could be augmented by removing troops from other duties on a short-term basis. That’s assuming that a larger force would actually make a difference. The administration currently does not think that’s the case, and they may have a point. Ultimately only the Iraqis can maintain long-term peace in their country.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    ok Mr Nalle, i do agree the long term answer is in the hands of the Iraqi’s…

    but the here and now dictates higher levels of Resources…and since it is our Responsibility as the invading Nation, we shoudl step up and do the fucking job correctly…

    the only ones stating they have adequate boots on the ground and intelligence resources are Political, NOT Military…any of the military folks parrating Rumsfelds position here are doing so either under orders or in the hopes of “punching their ticket” for a higher job( more stars) in the Pentagon…given the WH habit of promoting and decorating the “Faithful” …good chance for a Joint Chiefs position

    the current Administrations judgements in all things military since the beginning of the Afghanistan invasion is what i am Questioning here…Powell was the only one in the first term Administration with actual experience, and due to the neocons(Perle, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld) nobody listened to the former General who helped win the first Gulf War so decisivly…

    you are familiar with the “Powell Doctrine” in these circumstances, i am certain…

    Rumsfeld is just now getting around to the idea that it is a priority to secure the Iraq borders fer Bog’s sake

    i want this to be done right, maximum efficiency, minimum loss of Life….and all i see form the civilian Command and Control is gross fucking incompetence

    and that, if nothing else, makes a good comparison to Nam….eh?

    object in mirror are closer than they appear

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The civilian leadership are in the difficult position of needing to step up the war in the face of massive, inflexible and ideologically based political opposition.

    IMO what we need right now isn’t more troops, but more money, lots of it. More manpower won’t really do much as far as the fighting goes except create more targets. What we need is to get the Iraqi economy and society moving and do it faster than we have been. That’s where we’re really falling short.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    i disagree, Mr Nalle…from a purely militaristic strategic viewpoint..

    money does NOT secure a border, or make the road to the airport secure..

    boots on the ground do

    the Administration is in the political mess partly due to their fucking up the military campaign so severely…as i have partially shown in my comments above

    since they had ALL the option on timetable for the pre-emptive strike into Iraq, they could have waited until the objectives in Afghanistan were achieved and the proper force deployment, along with supply logistics were set up properly before beginning the invasion operation

    why the timetable the way it was?…it was obviously NOT for any military consideration…

    this leaves only the political

    a poor way to run a War

    and THAT has always been my main problem with this Administration and their handling of this Conflict…they have shown a proclivity to make military decisions and policy based on purely political motives and timetables…

    and that is severly fucked up, as well as a disgrace to every dead soldier who served with Honour

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Agreed, the administration should have the balls to do the right thing despite political considerations. That’s the only way to be successful.

    But we do have enough troops to do most of the necessary functions, but I’m not sure we could ever get enough troops there to patrol all the borders and totally block people from getting into the country.

    Dave

  • Bennett

    Dave – from April: “Yes, the body count is down substantially in the last two months. And have you been following the raids on terrorist hideouts which the Iraqi security forces have been making? Pretty impressive. They caught 80 terrorists in a single raid last week and there are raids every week. At that rate there won’t be enough terrorist left to cause much trouble.”

    and from August: “But we do have enough troops to do most of the necessary functions, but I’m not sure we could ever get enough troops there to patrol all the borders and totally block people from getting into the country.”

    Is it just that I have no sense? Or is there some sort of conflict going on here?

    Oh wait, it just seemed like things were getting better in April.

    I follow the news from Iraq, and it looks a lot like the Kurds and the Southern Teritories are pushing for more autonomy than will be acceptable to the group drafting the constitution.

    What’s your take on that Dave?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    That was then, this is now.

    And have you seen the Constitution? After releasing what was supposed to be the final draft, the committee writing it snuck in a bunch of theocratic language which pissed off all sorts of people.

    No one can claim life is perfect in Iraq, but at the same time, there is gradual progress on many fronts, peoples lives are normalizing and the terrorists don’t seem to be taking over the country.

    Take that for what it’s worth.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    ok..i see many parralells between Nam and Iraq

    both have very indeterminate military goals

    both had timetables based on political considerations rather than military ones

    both are insurgent conflicts, where the Enemy is easily able to blend in with the population we are trying to help…and that native population is reticet to giving up the insurgents, because they know we will eventually leave…the insurgents live there

    both had forgotten that the Book on how to win a war against insurgents was written during the conflict in the Phillipines in the early 1900’s

    both are stifled by lack of boots on the ground and proper resources

    both began with false pretenses for the beginning of the conflict

    on and on…

    but i think you get the idea…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Gonzo, I believe that if you go back and read the article you’ll see that it focuses on the fundamental geopolitical differences between the conflicts, rather than the superficially similar details.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    i understand what you are trying to say, Mr Nalle…and some of the similarities i have mentioned are far from superficial

    especially from the viewpoint of military personnel involved directly

    note that both conflicts had no clear endgame…a large part of the difficulty, very tough to create a winning strategy if you do not make clear what winning is in the military sense

    also note, the Powell Doctrine was a direct response to the mistakes(military) made in Nam…and was completely ignored by the current Administration…strange, since he was the only one in the entire Administration with military and combat experience…

    i understand not every war is a vietnam…and why you say so

    i am just sayihng that this current war is frighteningly close to that one on many levels…tho for different reasons

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>especially from the viewpoint of military personnel involved directly< <

    To a certain extent all wars are the same, at least from the perspective of a soldier whose life is at risk.

    >>note that both conflicts had no clear endgame…a large part of the difficulty, very tough to create a winning strategy if you do not make clear what winning is in the military sense< <

    Here I disagree. I think the end point in Iraq is much, much clearer than it was in Vietnam. In Vietnam there was an organized, governed enemy who controlled specified territory in addition to the insurgents. That required a much larger commitment with a guaranteed virtually indefinite term - much like Korea. An indefinite commitment was also mandated by the geopolitics of Vietnam. Iraq doesn't have the same fixed and unresolvable element. The objectives are much clearer. Stabilize the Iraqi government, make sure they can function, and get out, leaving the whole region better off. When it comes down to it, the surrounding countries know they'll be better off if we succeed, and the Iraqi people have more of a commitment to success than the south Vietnamese did, because it's really their asses on the line.

    >>i am just sayihng that this current war is frighteningly close to that one on many levels…tho for different reasons<<

    I think that for those opposed to any war, parallels could be drawn to Vietnam to serve their purposes.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    ah…but i never stated that i was against any war…Afghanistan, for example

    not only was that needed and justified, but i am really pissed that it has been largely ignored and the Task unfinished, with required resources, intel and logistical having been diverted to an elective conflict in Iraq

    just one example

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    By ‘any war’, I meant ‘any given war’. Vietnam is the negative example for any modern war, so any war which someone opposes will look like Vietnam to them, and any war which someone supports will tend to look to them like WW2.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    don’t make me fly to Texas and rip that broad brush outta yer fingers, Mr Nalle

    you do so much better when you speak only for yourself…or objective observations

    generalizations are problematical

    and yes, i know what i just did…silly me

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    My generalization was right on target and you know it. Plus I have old tired eyes and need a big brush to see what I write.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Re #31;

    “After all, MCH. You have military experience, yet you show that you have no good sense whatsover on any issues at all.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Well I know a phony and a hypocrite when I see one, Nalle.

  • chris schiavo

    I agree with many comments made here too, that Iraq was central to the field of fighting Al-queda. Most question that belief i don’t. We have with taking on Afganistan and Iraq surrounded our more torrential enemy Iran and too, Syria and are closer to Jordan now and Yemen. We have been told WMD’s in Libya are our’s for the taking. How did they build up such an arsneal without the world knowing? Weren’t there reports of ships leaving Iraq before the war weren’t there satelite images of trucks Russian trucks loading something under the cover of night? Couldn’t Libya fenced these items to no avail to only figure out a win-win scenerio for them? To cough them up get rid of them and look loke a hero and save Saddam the embarrassment of us finding them in Iraq? When did this reveal itself? The timing couldn’t have been more interesting; right after Saddam surrendered saying”He is willing to negoitiate?” Kadafy must have panicked hearing that and this is why he coughed them up. Just my theory. And lastly that Saddam financed the first WTC bombing too the Hamas Hezbollah and islamic Jihad factions in Palestine connects hin to terrorism, just not 9/11 specifically. Or so the left wants to get technical over. Like this is a court of law. I say the smell test is good enough for me. The broken window thoery of policiing neighborhoods works in the miidle east. Why Bush just didn’t come out and say all this in his speeches leading up to the war surprises me leading me to think he is cynical of the average Americann’s understanding of this type of policy (fist strike) how it effects the middle east etc….he just had to make the case of WTC-1 to Saddam how he finances the PLO Arafat who was behind the Munich Murders in ’72 America still will remember all this. That we have our real enemy surrounded Iran, pepole still would have remembered 11/4/79 we still could put this all together. He didn’t trust us to be behind him. The WMD’s aside we would have gone the political will was there. If he took the time America would have been behind him more fully and we wouldn’t need to hear now the left politicizing the war, insisting WMD’s and 9/11 and the rules of evidence had to be met in order to gain their support. But still we are doing the right thing Saddam’s trial will bring more of this out too.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    If only there were paragraphs in your last comment it would be perfect.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Honor the Fallen

    “Army Sgt. First Class Robert D. Derenda, 42, of Ledbetter, Ky., assigned to the 1st Brigade, 98th Division; was killed Aug. 5 when a civilian fuel truck collided with his Humvee while he was performing a convoy mission in Rubiah, Iraq.”

    To pay respects to Derenda’s family, go here

    American soldiers killed to date in Iraq – 2,116

    Cost of the invasion to the American taxpayer, to date – $195.6 billion

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    MCH, since these casualty reports are the only useful thing you contribute to BC, you’re welcome to append them to my original article in the future.

    Dave

  • steve

    I dont understand why people compare Vietnam to the war in Iraq. Vietnam was a war that we were involved in thanks to the democrats. Due to their excellent leadership…we lost 50 times the amount of people that we did in Iraq. Thanks, Dems.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    They make the comparison because Vietnam came out badly and for political reasons they’d like Iraq to come out badly as well. That’s about all there is to it.

    Dave

  • steve

    I agree Dave. It is a sad way to attempt to gain sentiment against Bush.
    The Democratic Party needs leaders. Until then, the conservatives will run amok in Washington. They need to stop pointing fingers and start offering solutions.

  • MCH

    Honor The Fallen
    http://www.militarycity.com/valor

    “U.S. Army Captain Anthony R. Garcia, 48 years old, of Fort Worth, Texas; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; was killed Feb. 17 by a gun shot in Tikrit, Iraq.”

    “Anthony was such a family man,” Garcia’s widow, Doris, told The Leaf-Chronicle of Clarksville, Tenn. “He loved his kids and doing stuff together. We’ll just miss him so much.”

    “Garcia joined the Army in August 1989 and was assigned to Fort Campbell in June 2001.

    Besides his wife, Garcia is survived by a daughter, Kelly, and a son, Garrick, of Clarksville; and his parents, Monico and Josephine Garcia, of Hudson Oaks, Texas.

    Mrs. Garcia described her late husband of 20 years as an “awesome guy” who was into running and weight-lifting. Most importantly, she said, he was very much into his family.”

    – Associated Press

  • MCH

    Tim Russert’s recent interview with General Anthony Zinni (Ret), on Meet The Press, as transcribed by Mo from another of Nalle’s posts:

    GENERAL ZINNI: “The remarkable similarities to Vietnam is I saw in places in Vietnam where we were making a difference in the villages, where we had programs that innovative commanders were exercising, where there were troops that were dedicated to changing the lives of the Vietnamese. Meanwhile, back in Saigon, we had the revolving generals, coup after coup, while we sat there and watched, and this wasn’t the kind of government that the people felt they could risk their lives for.

    TIM RUSSERT: I want to bring you back to a book you co-wrote with Tom Clancy called “Battle Ready.” And you wrote this: “In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption.” That’s very serious.

    GEN. ZINNI: Yes.

    MR. RUSSERT: Where did you see that? At what level?

    GEN. ZINNI: Well, I–first of all, I saw it in the way the intelligence was being portrayed. I knew the intelligence; I saw it right up to the day of the war. I was asked at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing a month before the war if I thought the threat was imminent. I didn’t. Many of the people I know that were involved in the intelligence side of this, or, or in the military felt the same way. I saw the–what this town is known for: spin, cherry-picking facts, using metaphors to evoke certain emotional responses, or, or shading the, the context. We, we know the mushroom clouds and, and the other things that were all described that the media’s covered well. I saw on the ground, though, a sort of walking away from 10 years worth of planning.

    You know, ever since the end of the first Gulf War, there have been–there’s been planning by serious officers and planners and others, and policies put in place. Ten years worth of planning, you know, were thrown away; troop levels dismissed out of hand; General Shinseki basically insulted for speaking the truth and giving a, an honest opinion; the lack of cohesive approach to how we deal with the aftermath; the political, economic, social reconstruction of a nation, which is no small task; a belief in these exiles that anyone in the region, anyone that had any knowledge would tell you were not credible on the ground; and on and on and on. Decisions to disband the army that were not in the initial plans. I mean there’s a series of disastrous mistakes. We just heard the secretary of state say these were tactical mistakes. These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policy made back here.

    MR. RUSSERT: Should someone resign?

    GEN. ZINNI: Absolutely.

    MR. RUSSERT: Who?

    GEN. ZINNI: Secretary of defense, to begin with.

    MR. RUSSERT: Anyone else?

    GEN. ZINNI: Well, I think that, that we–that those that have been responsible for the planning, for overriding all the, the efforts that were made in planning before that, that those that stood by and allowed this to happen, that didn’t speak out. And there are appropriate ways within the system you can speak out, at congressional hearings and otherwise. I think they have to be held accountable. The point is, those that are in power now that have been part of this are finding that their time is spent defending the past. And if they have to defend the past, they’re unable to make the kinds of changes, adjustments, admit the mistakes and move on. And that’s where we are now, trying to rewrite history, defend the past, ridiculous statements that, “Well, wait 20 years and history will tell you how this turns out.” Well, I don’t think anybody wants 20 years to continue like it is now.

  • Dave Nalle

    Yes, that would be a classic example of someone making the mistake of judging Iraq by the standard of Vietnam and trying to mold events into Iraq to look like Vietnam and failing badly.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Just for the record, here’s Gen. Zinni’s military credentials:

    **Served 35 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1965-2000
    **2 tours in Vietnam, 1967 and 1970
    **Defense Distinguished Service Medal
    **Defense Superior Service Medal
    **Bronze Star with combat V
    **Purple Heart
    **Meritorious Service Medal
    **Navy Commendation Medal with combat V
    **Combat Action Ribbon
    **Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort during the Kurdish relief effort in Turkey and Iraq, 1991
    **Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command, 1997-2000

  • Mo

    #52

    “I dont understand why people compare Vietnam to the war in Iraq. Vietnam was a war that we were involved in thanks to the democrats.”

    This comment fails to consider that war is not a partisan thing. All bleed and suffer and pay for war regardless of how it started.

    But what we should do with a “bad war” is what we do with a dead horse — hang the ones responsible for killing the horse and go out bury it ASAP.

  • MCH

    Honor the Fallen

    “Navy Equipment Operator 1st Class (Petty Officer 1st Class) Gary T. Rovinski, 44, of Roseville, Ill.; assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, Fort McCoy, Wis.; killed June 5 as a result of enemy action when his Humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device in Anbar Province, Iraq.” – militarycity.com

    “Gary was in the Army during the first Gulf Ear as an eye specialist. He spent eight years in the U.S.Army and left the service at the end of the war. The 44-year old Rovinski was working as a correction officer at the Henry Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg when some friends told him about the Seabees. Even though Rovinski never saw the classic John Wayne movie “The Fighting Seabees,” he decided to join the naval reserves. He made a point to catch the film after becoming a “bee.”

    “He had a lot of passion with everything he did, he always stood up for what was right,” said Sgt. Todd Frederickson with the Henry Hill Correctional Center. “He always had a great deal of caring for everything he did here as an officer. Gary was also a very caring family man who loved his wife and children a great deal. That is one of the things I admired most about him – he was such a good family man.” – pigstye.net

  • MCH

    By Bob Herbert, July 10, 2006:

    “The biggest lesson we failed to learn from Vietnam was how utterly tragic it was to pull the trigger on an unnecessary war. Now once again we are condemned to suffer the consequences, and those consequences are not always self-evident.

    For example, the U.S. military – its capabilities and its reputation so painstakingly rebuilt in the decades following Vietnam – is again falling victim to lowered standards, breakdowns in discipline and a series of atrocities that are nothing less than a betrayal of the many honorable men and women in uniform and the country they serve.

    The Army has had to lower its standards because most young Americans want no part of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. Recruiters, desperate to meet their quotas, are sifting for warm bodies among those who are less talented, less disciplined and, in some cases, repelent.

    John Kifnber reported in The Times last week about a study by a watchdog group that showed that recruiting shortfalls caused by the war have allowed “large numbers of Neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” to infiltrate the military.

    Despite the administrations repeated attempts to put the best face on Bush’s war, the predicament confronting the military is growing more dire. There are still not nearly enough American troops in Iraq to secure the country. Some troops are on their third and fourth tour of duty in the war zone, which is beyond unfair.

    The proud American military has been hurt badly by the wrecking-ball policies of the Bush administration.”

  • MCH

    Iraqi sectarian violence surges
    By STEVEN R. HURST – Associated Press Writer – 10/17/2006

    “A British military SUV burns after being hit by an rocket propelled grenade in Basra, Iraq, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad Monday. One soldier was wounded in the attack. BAGHDAD, Iraq – Four days of sectarian slaughter killed at least 91 people by Monday in Balad, a town near a major U.S. air base an hour’s drive north of the capital. Elsewhere, 60 Iraqis died in attacks and 16 tortured bodies were found.

    The U.S. command said seven American troops died in fighting a day earlier. That raised the U.S. toll to 58 killed in the first two weeks of October, a pace that if continued would make the month the worst for coalition forces since 107 U.S. and 10 British soldiers died in January 2005.

    Iraqi deaths also are running at a high rate. According to an Associated Press count, 708 Iraqis have been reported killed in war-related violence this month, or just over 44 a day, compared to a daily average of more than 27 since the AP began tracking deaths in April 2005.

    A surge in sectarian bloodshed and jump in U.S. casualties coincide with the run-up to the American midterm elections in which the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war has become a key issue.

    The U.S. military has kept a low profile in Balad, where violence began Friday with the slaying of 17 Shiite Muslim workers. Revenge-seeking Shiite death squads then killed 74 Sunnis, causing people to flee across the Tigris River to the nearby Sunni-dominated city of Duluiyah.

    “Coalition force units are partnering with Iraqi police and Iraqi army units involved in operations around Balad. We are also providing quick reaction assets to the Iraqi police and army. The IA and IP are in the lead with the operations around Balad,” Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said.

    Among the 60 Iraqis killed outside Balad on Monday was Imad al-Faroon, the brother of the chief prosecutor in the second trial of Saddam Hussein. Gunmen burst into his home and shot him to death in front of his wife, government official Ali al-Lami told the AP.

    The worst attack of the day – 20 dead and 27 wounded – occurred when an explosives-packed car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into a Shiite funeral tent in eastern Baghdad’s Ur neighborhood. Soon afterward, a car parked nearby exploded, ripping through a crowd of rescuers and onlookers, police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said.

    Another car bomb killed nine people and wounded 35 in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, Mayor Hussein Mohammed al-Ghurabi said.

    In killings bearing the hallmarks of sectarian reprisal killings, the bullet-riddled and tortured bodies of 11 men were dumped in the capital overnight, two of them in a trash pit, police Capt. Mohannad al-Bahadli said. Five tortured bodies were found in towns north of the city.

    Eight members of a Shiite family were shot to death by men wearing military uniform who burst into their home just after sunrise in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, said Muayed Fadhil Hussein.”

  • MCH

    BUSH STATES COMPARISONS OF SITUATION IN IRAQ TO VIETNAM’S TET OFFENSIVE “COULD BE RIGHT.”

    By Alan Freeman
    From the Globe and Mail:

    While insisting that the only outcome he foresees is victory, President George W. Bush on Wednesday for the first time acknowledged that the situation in Iraq could be analogous to the ultimate of U.S. military quagmires–the Vietnam War.

    In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Mr. Bush was asked whether he believed that the surge in violence was analogous to the 1968 Tet offensive, which is credited with turning U.S. public opinion against the war. The President responded that the Tet comparison “could be right.”

  • MCH

    U.S. DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ FOR OCTOBER AT 101
    By STEVEN R. HURST – Associated Press Writer – 10/31/2006

    BAGHDAD, Iraq – Ali Abdul-Ridha, wounded in the head and shoulders, said he was waiting for a job with his brother and about 100 others when he heard a huge explosion and ”lost sight of everything.”

    The bomb tore through food stalls and kiosks in Baghdad’s sprawling Sadr City slum Monday, killing 33 people and wounding 59. The explosion, carried out by a suspected Sunni insurgent, targeted poor Shiites who gather there each morning hoping for jobs as construction workers.

    Those who lost their lives were among 81 Iraqis killed or found dead across Iraq on Monday. According to an Associated Press count, October has also recorded more Iraqi civilian deaths – 1,170 so far – than any other month since the AP began keeping track in May 2005.

    The attack in Sadr City came on a day that saw the U.S. military’s death toll for the month of October climb past 100, a grim milestone as a White House envoy turned up unexpectedly in Baghdad following a rough patch in U.S.-Iraqi ties.

    A member of the 89th Military Police Brigade was killed in east Baghdad on Monday, and a Marine died in fighting in insurgent-plagued Anbar province the day before, raising to 101 the number of U.S. service members killed in a bloody October, the fourth deadliest month of the war. At least 2,814 American forces have died since the war began in March 2003.

    Upon arriving for an unannounced visit, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley went straight into meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his security chief, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, telling them he “wanted to reinforce some of the things you have heard from our president.”

    Al-Rubaie told the AP late Monday that Hadley was here to discuss the work of a five-man committee that al-Maliki and Bush agreed to Saturday. Hadley also presented some proposals concerning the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces as well as security plans.

    Last week Al-Maliki issued a string of bitter complaints – at one point saying he wasn’t “America’s man in Iraq” – after U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad unveiled adjustments in America’s Iraq strategy.

    The ambassador announced that the prime minister agreed to implement a set of timelines, prompting al-Maliki to accuse the White House of infringing on his government’s sovereignty and say that he was not consulted.

    By week’s end, al-Maliki and President Bush held a hastily convened video conference call and agreed to speed the training of Iraqi forces and the return of control over all territory to the Iraqi army.

    With American voter support for the war at a low point as the Nov. 7 congressional election approaches, a top aide to al-Maliki said the Iraqi leader was using the GOP’s vulnerability on the issue to leverage concessions from the White House – particularly the speedy withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi cities to U.S. bases in the country.

    Al-Maliki has said he believes that the continued presence of American forces in Iraq’s population centers is partly behind the surge in violence.

    The case of a kidnapped American soldier, meanwhile, took a curious turn when a woman claiming to be his mother-in-law said the soldier was married to her daughter, a Baghdad college student, and was with the young woman and her family when hooded gunmen handcuffed him and threw him in the back seat of a white Mercedes last week. The marriage would violate military regulations.

    The soldier’s disappearance has prompted a massive manhunt in Baghdad, with much of it focused on Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite slum of 2.5 million people in extreme northeastern Baghdad.

    The military still had checkpoints surrounding the district Monday when a suspected Sunni insurgent bomber slipped in and set off the bomb about 6:15 a.m. among day laborers. There were conflicting reports as to whether the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber or a device concealed amid debris by the roadside.

    Sadr City is a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The district has witnessed repeated bomb attacks by suspected al-Qaida fighters in what were seen as attempts to incite Shiite revenge attacks and drag the country into full-blown civil war.

    Al-Sadr, in a statement addressed to supporters in Sadr City, warned of unspecified action if the “siege” continues and criticized what he called the silence of politicians over actions by the U.S. military in the district.

    “If this siege continues for long, we will resort to actions which I will have no choice but to take, God willing, and when the time is right,” he said in the statement, a text of which was obtained by the AP.

    From his bed in al-Sadr Hospital, Abdul-Ridha said the area had been exposed to attack because U.S. and Iraqi forces had driven into hiding the Mahdi Army fighters who normally police the district.

    “That forced Mahdi Army members, who were patrolling the streets, to vanish,” the 41-year-old said, his brother lying beside him asleep.

    The last major bombing in Sadr City took place Sept. 23 when a bomb hidden in a barrel blew up a kerosene tanker and killed at least 35 people waiting to stock up on fuel for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    Elsewhere in the capital Monday, gunmen killed hard-line Sunni academic Essam al-Rawi, head of the University Professors Union, as he was leaving home. At least 156 university professors have been killed since the war began. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, more are believed to have fled to neighboring countries.

    Police and security officials throughout Iraq reported that at least 47 other people, many of them police, were killed in sectarian violence or found dead Monday, many of them dumped in the Tigris River and a tributary south of the capital.

    The AP count that found a record number of Iraqi deaths in October includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported. The next-highest month was March 2006, when 1,038 Iraqi civilians were killed in the aftermath of the Feb. 22 bombing of an important Shiite shrine in Samarra.

    AP News Research Center in New York and AP correspondents Christopher Bodeen and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.

  • MCH

    CAR BOMBS, MORTAR ATTACK KILLS 150 IRAQIS, WOUNDS 238
    By Thomas Wagner, Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – In the deadliest attack on a sectarian enclave since the beginning of the Iraq war, suspected Sunni-Arab militants used three suicide car bombs and two mortar rounds on the capital’s Shiite Sadr City slum to kill at least 150 people and wound 238 on Thursday, police said.

    The Shiites responded almost immediately, firing 10 mortar rounds at the Abu Hanifa Sunni mosque in Azamiya, killing one person and wounding 14 people in an attack on the holiest Sunni shrine in Baghdad.

    Beginning at 3:10 p.m., the three car bomb attackers in Sadr City blew up their vehicles one after another, at 15 minute intervals, hitting Jamila market, al-Hay market and al-Shahidein Square. At about the same time, two mortar rounds struck al-Shahidein Square and Mudhaffar Square, police said.

    Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told state-run Iraqiyah television that other than the vehicles that exploded, one car was captured and three were still on the run. He gave the license plate numbers of each car, asking residents in Sadr City to inform police if they saw them.

    As the three fiery explosions sent up huge plumes of black smoke up over northeastern Baghdad, and left streets covered with burning bodies and blood, angry residents and armed Shiite militiamen flooded the streets, hurling curses at Sunni Muslims and firing weapons into the air.

    Ambulances raced to burning wooden fruit and vegetables stalls in Jamila market to rescue dozens of wounded people. Rescue workers also removed burned bodies from mangled cars and minibuses and took them away on wheeled carts. But many other corpses of adults and children remained in the streets.

    Shortly after the attack, Mahdi Army militiamen deployed around the area, setting up checkpoints and roadblocks in the area to keep all strangers away.

    The government imposed a curfew on Baghdad beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday, saying that all people and vehicles must stay off the streets of the city until further notice.

    In addition, top government officials held an emergency meeting at the home of Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim that also was attended by Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, an aide to al-Hakim said. The officials were believed to be discussing the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

    The coordinated attack was the deadliest in Iraq since the U.S.-led war began in March 2003.

    It surpassed a bombing in the southern city of Hillah that targeted mostly Shiite police and National Guard recruits, killing 125 and wounding more than 140 in February 2004. On March 2, 2004, coordinated blasts from suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives struck Shiite Muslim shrines in Karbala and Baghdad, killing a total of at least 181 Iraqis and wounding 573. But that attack occurred in two separate cities.

    Police Col. Hassan Chaloub said at least 150 people were killed and 238 wounded in Thursday’s attack.

    Sectarian fighting also broke in another part of northern Iraq on Thursday, when 30 Sunni insurgents armed with machine guns and mortars attacked the Shiite-controlled Health Ministry building. After a three-hour battle, during which Iraqi soldiers and U.S. military helicopters intervened, the attackers were repulsed. But at least seven guards of the ministry were wounded, said police 1st. Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq.

    The Sadr City and Health Ministry attacks were the latest example of widespread sectarian fighting involving Sunnis and Shiites that is leaving Iraq either on the verge of a civil war or already fighting one.

    At about noon Thursday, heavy clashes broke out between about suspected Sunni insurgent gunmen and guards at the Shiite-controlled Health Ministry building in northwest Baghdad, security officials said.

    State-run Iraqiyah television said the Health Ministry was being attacked with mortars by “terrorists who are intending to take control of the building.”

    Security officials said about 30 gunmen, believed to be Sunni insurgents, had launched the attack. Iraqi troops were being rushed to the area and all roads leading to the ministry in Bab al-Muadham neighborhood were closed, said the security officials on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

    Police Lt. Ali Muhsin said the attack began at 12:15 p.m. when three mortar shells hit the building, causing damage. After that, gunmen on the upper floors of surrounding buildings opened fire.

    Ministry workers were trapped in the building.

    “The gunmen fled as American helicopters and Iraqi armored vehicles arrived. Employees were able to leave starting about 3:15 p.m.,” Health ministry spokesman Qassim Yehyah said.

    Earlier Thursday, U.S. and Iraqi forces searching for a kidnapped American soldier also had swept through an area of Sadr City, killing four Iraqis, wounding eight and detaining five, police said.

    The raid was the fourth in six days that coalition forces have raided Sadr City, which is home to the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

    The militia is suspected of having kidnapped U.S. soldier Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old Ann Arbor, Michigan, resident as he was was visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad on Oct. 23.

    The Mahdi Army also is suspected of having kidnapped scores of people during the raid on a Ministry of Higher Education office in Baghdad on Nov. 14. The ministry is predominantly Sunni Arab.

    In a statement, the U.S. military confirmed the raid and said it was conducted in the continuing effort to find al-Taayiean. It confirm the detention of five Iraqis and that a vehicle was shot at by Iraqi forces after “displaying hostile intent.” But the coalition did not report Iraqi casualties.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Thanks for the ongoing reminders of how dead on my original article is and how utterly unlike Vietnam the war in Iraq is.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Spoken like a true war-wimp, from the safety deep within your fortified compound, 10,000 miles away from the futile, senseless bloodbath over there, Nalle.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Spoken like someone who has publicly stated that he doesn’t give a damn how many Iraqis die in a bloody civil conflict. I assume that with every story you post about civilian deaths you clap your little hands and jump up and down in your highchair.

    Dave

  • MCH

    Honor the Fallen

    “Army Sgt. Dariek E. Dehn, 32, of Spangle, Wash., died June 2 in Sharkat, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.”

  • MCH

    “I dont understand why people compare Vietnam to the war in Iraq. Vietnam was a war that we were involved in thanks to the democrats. Due to their excellent leadership…we lost 50 times the amount of people that we did in Iraq. Thanks, Dems.”

    Um, actually now it’s down 18 times, and dropping…

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    MCH, you’ve been here long enough not to need telling but please format links correctly or I’m going to start deleting any of your comments that contain them. You do know how, right?

  • MCH

    14 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in the last three days, according to the CBS News Web site:

    “(CBS/AP) The U.S. military announced Sunday that 14 American soldiers were killed over the past three days, including four in a single roadside bombing and another who was struck by a suicide bomber while on a foot patrol.

    The blast that killed the four U.S. soldiers occurred Sunday as the troops were conducting a cordon and search operation northwest of Baghdad, according to a statement. Two other soldiers were killed and five were wounded along with an Iraqi interpreter in two separate roadside bombings on Sunday, the military said.

    In the boldest attack, a U.S. soldier was killed Friday after the patrol approached two suspicious men for questioning near a mosque southwest of Baghdad, and one of the suspects blew himself up. Military spokesman Maj. Webster Wright said U.S. troops also fired at the second suspect after he began acting aggressively, detonating his suicide vest.

    “Our initial analysis is that these guys were al Qaeda and were planning to launch attacks into Baghdad,” Wright said in an e-mailed statement.

    Seven other soldiers were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq on Saturday.

    Combined with the previously announced death of a U.S. soldier in central Baghdad on Friday, it was a deadly start for June, which comes after the third-deadliest month since the war started four years ago.

    A car bomb also exploded outside a U.S. base near the volatile city of Baqouba, leaving a number of troops gasping for air and suffering from eye irritations, the military said. It did not confirm a report in the Los Angeles Times that the car was carrying chlorine canisters and said the soldiers who were sickened had been treated and returned to duty.

    The attacks came days after the Pentagon announced the completion of the troop buildup ordered by U.S. President Bush in January, raising the total number of troops in Iraq to about 150,000. That number may still climb as more support troops move in.

    The Bush administration has warned that the buildup will result in more U.S. casualties as more American soldiers come into contact with enemy forces and concentrate on the streets of Baghdad and remote outposts. May was the third bloodiest month since the war began in March 2003, with 127 troops deaths reported.”

  • REMF

    U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq: 3,665
    U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq: 25,950
    Cost of Iraq invasion to U.S. taxpayers: $448.7 billion
    …and counting…
    – MCH

  • REMF

    HONOR THE FALLEN

    Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher C. Johnson, 31, of Michigan; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force 49, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Aug. 14 in Taqaddum, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer Jackie L. McFarlane, Staff Sgt. Sean P. Fisher, Staff Sgt. Stanley B. Reynolds and Spc. Steven R. Jewell.”

    (from the military city web site)

  • Catey

    It is very painful to look at the numbers, the names, of these soldiers.

    Most of them young and in the military because they saw it as an opportunity.

    I cant speak for all soldiers and why they choose the military, but I have seen cases where they seemed to grasp it as an answer to what they are seeing as a world of limited options for them.

  • REMF

    Hey Nalle, GW Bush disagrees:

    “Citing America’s war experience in Asia, and even Vietnam, President Bush on Wednesday made the case for staying the course in Iraq and reiterated his support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the president compared the war in Iraq to U.S. involvement’s in Asia that lost popular backing but which he argued eventually proved its worth and led to lasting peace.

    “We are still in the early hours of the current ideological struggle, but we know how the others ended, and that knowledge helps guide our efforts today,” the president said.

    Bush even cited Vietnam as a cautionary tale for those urging troop withdrawals today.

    “Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left,” Bush said. “Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields.'”

    – From the msnbc web site

  • REMF

    HONOR THE FALLEN

    “Army Sgt. James S. Collins Jr., 35, of Rochester Hills, Mich.; assigned to the 303rd Military Police Company (Combat Support), U.S. Army Reserve, Jackson, Mich.; died Aug. 28 in Kirkuk, Iraq, of wounds sustained during combat operations.”

    – from the militarycity web site (valor)