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Return of The McGovernites

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Today, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee no less, declared all hopes of a US victory in Iraq to be mistaken:

Saying the “idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

Dean made his comments in an interview on WOAI Radio in San Antonio.

“I’ve seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, ‘just another year, just stay the course, we’ll have a victory.’ Well, we didn’t have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening.”

Two quick thoughts here:

  • Dean absolutely believes that Iraq is just another Viet Nam.

  • Rather than stay and fight the terrorists, Dean believes we should run as fast as we can away from terrorists.

And, as outrageous and cowardly as that statement is, Dean didn’t stop there. He went on to compare the controversy over pre-war intelligence to Watergate:

“What we see today is very much like what was going in Watergate,” Dean said. “It turns out there is a lot of good evidence that President Bush did not tell the truth when he was asking Congress for the power to go to war. The president said last week that Congress saw the same intelligence that he did in making the decision to go to war, and that is flat out wrong. The president withheld some intelligence from the Senate Intelligence Committee. He withheld the report from the CIA that in fact there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq), that they did not have a nuclear program. They (the White House) selectively gave intelligence to the United States Senate and the United States Congress and got them to give the go ahead to attack these people.”

So, Iraq is Viet Nam and since the whole Plamegate issue has fizzled out, the pre-war intelligence issue becomes the new Watergate comparison.

Have I not said this over and over? This is exactly what liberals in general and DNC leaders in particular have been dreaming of for some time now: A return to the glory days when they forced the US to retreat from South Viet Nam — then cut off all economic and military aid to that country, insuring that South Viet Nam would fall and hundreds of thousands slaughtered — and President Nixon was toppled by the Watergate scandal.

What ideas do they have for victory today?

They want to “redeploy” the troops. In other words, pull them back from the war on terror – a war, I might add, that we are winning!

Despite media reports, Iraq has become almost a literal meat grinder for the insurgents and terrorists. It’s like the D-Con Roach Motel: The terrorists sneak in, but they don’t get out.

And that’s because US and Iraqi forces are over there kicking their butts. Yes, they are taking casualties, but their performance has also been magnificent. Consider what US forces have been asked to do over the years:

  • Topple Saddam’s Regmine

  • Find Saddam and root out the insurgency

  • Help rebuild Iraqi schools, hospitals, communities, and their infrastructure.

  • Train the new Iraqi military and police force.

  • Protect Iraqi citizens, especially during times when they are voting on their new government.

  • and the list goes on…

Our troops have done everything asked of them and have done it very well. And now DNC Chairman Dean wants them to retreat.

Well, that makes sense to me, because so many (not all) DNC leaders have chosen to turn tail and run on this issue. Now they want our troops to follow their example.

Conservatives have been saying for months now that Democrats are once again becoming the party of McGovern. Just yesterday, Rush dared the DNC to just go the rest of the way and declare their wish to see a complete and immediate withdrawal.

Looks to me like they decided to do exactly that.

Remember what happened to McGovern? Think about it.

David Flanagan
Viewpointjournal.com

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  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Conservatives have been saying for months now that Democrats are once again becoming the party of McGovern.

    That comparison may be especially appropriate, considering that Democrats have been saying for at least that long that Republicans are again becoming the party of Nixon. The party, in other words, of abuse of power, subversion of the law, political smear and sabotage, conspiracy and secret government.

    Remember what happened to Nixon? Think about it.

  • Chief Wiggum

    You forgot slick Willie Michael.

    Only he got away with it.

    HOward Dean goes on national TV and says “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for” and “the only people in the Republican party are white male christians.”

    You lefties love hearing this all the while screaming that Bush is the divisive one.

    Give me a freakin break

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Yeah, Dean’s just a McGovernite lefty defeatest who wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Let’s ignore what he has to say. But how do you react to what Lt. Gen William Odom has to say about the war, which is pretty much the same as Dean’s position, except even harsher.

    Odom said Iraq is a much bigger clusterfuck than Vietnam ever was and that it is in fact the biggest strategic disaster in US history. Who is Odom? Another McGovernite? Actually, he was the head of the NSA under President Reagan.

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

    To those who think we should pull all our troops out of Iraq ASAP:

    What do you suppose would happen the day after we leave (prematurely)?

    And do you even care?

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    RJ:
    Yes, I know what would happen. Yes, I care. I’m neither a pacifist nor an isolationist. I believe in real-politik and balance of power theory. My idea of good foreign policy is Eisenhower, Nixon, and Bush I. My idea of bad foreign policy is Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bush II. I agree with General Odom that our continued presence over there is making things worse. It helps Iran and Al Qaida.

  • Bennett

    “HOward Dean goes on national TV and says “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for” and “the only people in the Republican party are white male christians.”

    You lefties love hearing this all the while screaming that Bush is the divisive one.”

    But weren’t you just saying (on another thread) how much you hate liberals? Actually raving about it to the point of editorial deletion?

    Hmmmmmm…

    Good points 5th.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Thanks Bennett. This really shouldn’t be an ideological debate. Bush’s foreign policy is not consistent at all with the republican tradition. This “spreading democracy” pablum sounds like Jimmy Carter to me. Let’s pursue U.S. interests based on realistic objectives and a plan. Let’s talk about why this Iraq operation is succeeding or failing. It doesn’t matter who is making the argument. Discrediting the speaker is a logical fallacy which is getting very, very old.

  • RogerMDillon

    Dean does not believe we should run as fast as we can away from terrorists. That is a complete fabrication on your part.

    “I think we need a strategic redeployment over a period of two years,” Dean said. “Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately. They don’t belong in a conflict like this anyway. We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don’t have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We’ve got to get the target off the backs of American troops.

    Two years is not “as fast as we can.” Does he want the troops out of Iraq? Yes. Does he want some troops removed immediately? Yes. Does he have a different view than the administration? Yes. But if Dean is such a pacifist appeaser, why was does he want to send more troops to Afghanistan? Attack him about his views on pre-war intelligence, but stop making stuff up. Your lies bring down the morale of the troops.

    Is it a comprehension issue or willful disinformation on your part? Issue a correction if you have any integrity.

    Where’s an editor when you actually need one?

    P.S. the Plamegate isn’t hasn’t fizzled out.

  • Wilson Kolb

    If you go to Viewpoint Journal, where the article about Howard Dean was published, you’ll find the usual collection of wingnut rants. So, Roger, the answer to your question is that it was willful disinformation. And no, a correction will not be issued. In Republo-world, personal responsibility and accountability are for others.

  • RogerMDillon

    I would then call on the site editors to contact the author and make him account for his flase statements.

  • MCH

    “To those who think we should pull all our troops out of Iraq ASAP:
    What do you suppose would happen the day after we leave (prematurely)?
    And do you even care?”
    – RJ

    Those courageous American soldiers who were serving there (because they believe actions speak louder than words) would return home alive.

    Yes, because I don’t believe American lives should be sacrificed for the sake of those who promote the invasion from their keyboards.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Fifth Dentist, I actually find myself agreeing with you that Iraq is a “clusterfuck.” The question is “why?”

    There are a whole host of possible reasons that one can find; faulting the Joint Chiefs in their tactics or strategy, badly chosen grand strategy dictated by the political echelon in your country, corruption from the White House, etc.

    That assumes that everything is going to according the norms in American life, and that this enterprise needs to be brought under control, etc. corrected, or if necessary abandoned. The key element to all of this reasoning is that Americans (officials) are in control.

    There are other possible approaches to all of this that move along a different path of reasoning.

    An example is a theory put forth that the point of this enterprise in Iraq is to pull Amnerican troops out of the US, so that foreign troops can be brought in. Cited by the person pushing this theory is what happened at Hurricane Katrina. According to this theory, FEMA was supposed to be thoroughly unprepared for the disaster that occurred so that the ability to bring in foreign troops culd be tested.

    There is a lot more to this, of course, but I’m not setting this forth to argue its veracity, but to merely illustrate that OTHER possibilities exist than the standard arguments we see going back and forth here.

    Also, I agree with you that this ought not be an ideological debate at all. Rather than allowing yourselves to be driven by what some fool in your government says on any given day, maybe a quiet and careful look at what in reality is occurring would be more helpful. Not that anybody on Blog Critics is going to solve the problem or stop some kid from getting needlessly killed. But, understanding allows you to figure out what in reality is going on – and deal with it.

    There may be more to all this than appears.

  • Chief Wiggum

    Bennet…..

    Yes I did say that.

    But I’m not the head of one of the 2 major political parties in this country. So it’s a little different.

    Wilson… that is exactly what Dean said. A direct quote. He said it before the DNC on Feb 12, 2005. Just because you choose not to believe it does not mean he didn’t say it. I know that’s how liberals think. “If I don’t believe something then it must not be true and I cann call anyone who disagrees with me a liar.”

    It’s not just about Dean or even if we can succceed in this war though. It’s about the attitude the far left has toward Americ in genral. Depsite what some of you might wish to believe the far left is not expressing thier right to dissent.” Rather they are spewing anti-american venomous hatred.

    When Cindy Sheehan says “America is not even worth fighting for” is that dissent or anti American sentiment?

    Whan Natalie, who posts on here, constantly refers to the young American men and women serving in uniform in Iraq as “American Death Brigaders,” is that dissent or anti americanism? MCH you called them courageous and I agree so what do you think of Natalie referrign to them as American Death Brigaders?

    When the mainstream media does everything they can to tell the American public all the bad gory details about the war and Iraq but goes out of thier way to ignore or triviliaze every single good piece of news from the area, what are we to make of that?

    When hollywood celebrities do nothing but badmouth America and it’s citizens all day long what are we to think?

    When certain supreme court justices cite foreign law rather than the US constitution in thier decisions, what’s going on?

    I’m not saying every liberal or so called progressive hates America but anyone with 2 eyes, ears, and a functioning brain can see that there is a faction on the extreme left that does. They are trying to impose an atmosphere of moral relativism and subvert traditional American morality.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Chief Wiggum: “Wilson… that is exactly what Dean said. A direct quote. He said it before the DNC on Feb 12, 2005. Just because you choose not to believe it does not mean he didn’t say it. I know that’s how liberals think. “If I don’t believe something then it must not be true and I cann call anyone who disagrees with me a liar.”

    Here is a link to the full text of Dean’s remarks on Feg 12, 2005 from the Houston Chronicle.

    The only reference to Iraq in the entire speech was when he said “[t]heir budget doesn’t account for the cost of the war in Iraq, or privatizing Social Security.”

    What exactly are claiming that he said in that speech?

  • Dave Nalle

    I would then call on the site editors to contact the author and make him account for his flase statements.

    Roger, it’s not a lie, it’s his interpretation of the comment quoted immediately prior to it, and it’s hardly an innacurate characterization of that comment. 2 years could very well be ‘as fast as we can’ when more level heads are talking about 5-10 years to complete our job in Iraq.

    Dave

  • Chief Wiggum

    I said that Dean said “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for.”

    He did.

    Who said anything about Iraq fifth?

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    I just listened to the entire 8 minute interview with Dean from link in the story. I agree that the quotes in this article are accurate. I disagree entirely with the opinion portion of this article, but I think it’s a fair disagreement. The author of this article thinks that getting the troops out of Iraq would be a cowardly retreat from the war on terror. Dean believes that American troops in Iraq are serving very little purpose except for providing a target for the terrorists and unifying the Iraqi opposition which would otherwise splinter. I agree with Dean. Calling Dean a cowardly McGovernite doesn’t change the facts. Look at Flanagan’s argument: we’re “winning” the war because we’re “kicking butt.” But I’ve got news for you, we kicked plenty of butt in Vietnam and we lost because the mission was doomed from the start. We napalmed half the country and we still couldn’t win because we were trying to do something which was damn near impossible.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    CHIEF WIGGUM: I just wanted to express my appreciation that you have evolved your commentary into a more sophisticated style of debate. I hope you are enjoying the different atmosphere this has created. I am. Thank you.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Democrats: “We’ll leave as soon as it’s practical.”

    Republicans: “We’ll leave as soon as it’s practical.”

    And apparently there’s disagreement on this?

  • Nancy

    I’m no Bushie, but even I think Dean is a bit over the top. I don’t think he’s an asset to the DNC, however the party leaders must think so, because he’s still in position. Maybe, like McClellan speaking for BushCo, he gets to say the more outrageous things that those like Reid or Pelosi would like to say but are constrained from … altho I’ve got to admit also that Pelosi is not known for her verbal reserve.

    For the record, I think Iraq is already engaged in civil war, sunnis & “insurgents” (terrorists) against everybody else – with the blessing of Iran & Syria. Claiming that this isn’t civil war is just playing semantics games, IMO. And considering the barbaric nature & cultures of these middle-eastern goofs, no, I don’t care. Fighting has been their form of recreation for millenia. Why should they stop now?

  • RogerMDillon

    “When hollywood celebrities do nothing but badmouth America”

    Yet Wiggum names himself after a Hollywood creation that mocks law enforcement, deflating his arguements.

    Dave, it is a falsehood and his silence speaks volumes. Where in the article is Dean’s two-year withdrawal mentioned? If Flanagan wants to attack that idea, have at it, but to distort and omit to make an arguement is pathetic. McGovern wanted immediate withdrawal from Vietnam if he was elected. That is not the same as a withdrawal over two years. Do you not see them as different?

    The line “Rather than stay and fight the terrorists, Dean believes we should run as fast as we can away from terrorists.” is inaccurate. “As fast as we can” is immediate and that’s the implication being used. Could the President order an immediate withdrawal regardless of the consequences of Iraq and the world and pull every troop out? Are we not going to “stay and fight the terrorists” over the course of two years.

    Other than religious discussions, I wish that just once that you’d surprise everyone and hold conservative bloggers to the same standards you hold liberal ones.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I don’t think he’s an asset to the DNC, however the party leaders must think so, because he’s still in position.

    He keeps breaking DNC fundraising records. That probably reinforces their belief that he is an asset.

  • Chief Wiggum

    Matthew you claim the Dems and Reps are saying the same thing.

    Democrats: “We’ll leave as soon as it’s practical.”

    Republicans: “We’ll leave as soon as it’s practical.”

    And apparently there’s disagreement on this?”

    However you didn’t mention motivation.

    I believe the Republicans are saying this because they believe we will ultimately be successful in Iraq and the best course of action would be to pull the troops at a later point in time when Iraq is more stable.

    I believe the Dems are saying the saemt hing because someone took an opinion poll that showed the public is in favor of “leaving as soon as it’s practical.”

    Sort of liek Hillary supporting the war and toning down her abortion on demand rhetoric. Gee I wonder why she’s doign that? Why oh why could she be singing a more moderate tune all of a sudden?

  • Chief Wiggum

    Roger …. Chief Wiggum is a CARTOON charcter who has never bad mouthed America. Plus he makes me laugh.

    I’m talking about REAL people who have become rich thanks to this nation and then they turn around and shit alover it every chance they get.

    What’s your point?

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Chief Wiggum: “I said that Dean said “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for.” He did. Who said anything about Iraq fifth?”

    Sorry, I misunderstood what you were referring to. Dean actually made that statement in New York on Jan. 30, 2005 when he was running for the DNC chairmanship, not on Feb 12, 2005. Also, that statement was not on national TV as you indicated. It was a quote picked up by the Daily News.

    Incidentally, nobody ever responded to my point that Gen. William Odom, former head of the NSA under Reagan, is basically saying the same thing about Iraq as Dean, if not harsher. Is this guy another lefty, McGovernite coward or do we need to consider the merits of what he’s saying.

  • Chantal Stone

    “I’m no Bushie, but even I think Dean is a bit over the top. I don’t think he’s an asset to the DNC, however the party leaders must think so, because he’s still in position.”

    I think they keep Dean around because like stated in post #22, he gets the job done, but maybe just as important, he has the balls to say in public what other Dems only say or think behind closed doors.

  • Nancy

    Then, as I surmised elsewhere, he serves the same function as McClellan & Cheney do for BushCo: he is the front man who says the outrageous things & makes outrageous claims on behalf of The Party, so they won’t have to, and can distance themselves from him if reaction to his pronouncements gets too negative. In which case, he is very well worth his weight in platinum. Or yellowcake, whichever.

  • Chantal Stone

    You make a good point there, Nancy. But front man or not, its just nice to hear someone speak their mind so freely and bluntly, especially when u agree with a lot of what they’re saying. Like I said before, he has BALLS, something which a lot of politicians need to grow.

  • Nancy

    Amen to that!

  • RogerMDillon

    If you don’t think that the Republicans look at opinion polls and are concerned about the ’06 elections, then Chief Wiggum is certianly an apt name for you.

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

    Dave, it is a falsehood and his silence speaks volumes.

    My impression is that Flanagan generally doesn’t bother to read comments.

    Where in the article is Dean’s two-year withdrawal mentioned? If Flanagan wants to attack that idea, have at it, but to distort and omit to make an arguement is pathetic. McGovern wanted immediate withdrawal from Vietnam if he was elected. That is not the same as a withdrawal over two years. Do you not see them as different?

    Absolutely. I also see the wars as different. McGovern might well have supported a 2 year withdrawal in the situation we’re in now. It’s nothing near as desperate as we were in Vietnam in ’72.

    But I still don’t think Flanagan is lying. Dean’s rhetoric is the rhetoric of accelerated withdrawal with our tails between our legs, whether he has a slightly longer timescale or not.

    Dave

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com david@viewpointjournal.com

    Dave,

    Sorry that I haven’t responded to comments, I’ve had a very busy week at work. Regarding the “two-year withdrawal plan” I’ve heard so much about, the fact is, Dean and others like Murtha want to see a near-immediate withdrawal of up to 80,000 troops from Iraq first, then a “redeployment” of most of the rest next year.

    The message to both terrorists and insurgents is clear, kill enough of our troops and we will run. It’s the same message that Osama bin Laden understood when we ran after the “Blackhawk Down” incident several years ago.

    It’s a sign of pure weakness, and a signal to our armed forces that we’ve lost faith in their ability to hunt down terrorists and insurgents and help secure the country.

    I’ll say it again, some very senior Democratic Party leaders have chosen to turn tail and run on this issue, now they want our military to do the same. Fortunately, our troops don’t follow those who run from a fight.

    If Democrats think this is a winning stance for 2006, they are going to be shocked come the next election.

    David

  • http://www.viewpointjournal.com david@viewpointjournal.com

    Regarding the “Iraq as Vietnam” comments. The only reason we did not win in Vietnam was that we chose not to finish the job. As Colin Powell so aptly noted, we did not have the political will to win the war, despite the fact that we had the ground war well under control.

    If you were a Marathoner who ran in frequent races, but always gave up after about the first 10 miles, could you ever win a race?

    In Vietnam, our politicians chose to give up rather than complete the race. What President Bush has said is simple, we’re not going to do that in Iraq. Yes, we’ve lost over 2000 of our precious troops in that war, but it IS the central war on terror now, and when it comes to parity with US forces, neither terrorists nor insurgents have any hope of winning.

    The best they can do is blow up bombs remotely or shoot at our soldiers and run like hell. Meanwhile, Iraq is stabilizing, the new government is taking shape, their GDP is rebounding significantly, school enrollment up by 20%, etc. And, most important, the new Iraqi military is beginning to take to the field, and they are doing very well.

    And that is the most important and significant part of our effort, getting their military in order and getting them deployed and combat-experienced. Do you think it’s easy to build a real military force? The military under Saddam was ill-trained, ill-equipped, and motivated more by fear than by loyalty. This new military force is far more effective, but that effort takes time.

    Iraqis are getting there fast, and they are doing an admirable job of overcoming the obstacles.

    I have faith first in our troops. Not only are they the best and bravest of any force in the world, they are the best and bravest element of US society. And many of the troops have, during their off-hours, helped with rebuilding projects around the country on top of their regular duties.

    Not only that, troops have written letters home asking for help from their families and communities in rebuilding efforts, and communities have responded generously, sending tons of supplies to Iraq to help schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. Our troops deserve our steady support, not this waffling political opportunism that we are getting from so many DNC leaders.

    Secondly, I think the Iraqis want to be free. They voted by the millions despite the dangers of doing so. They will vote by the millions in the up-coming elections next week too. After that, they’ll have a full-fledged democratic government, with a constitution they crafted, a government they elected, and a better sense of self as a newly democratic nation.

    The Iraqis are a great people, and they are well on their way to becoming a great nation once again.

    Finally, I believe firmly that al Qaeda made a huge mistake when they declared Iraq the new central front in their war. US troops have decimated the insurgents and have ground up terrorist groups trying to operate within Iraq’s borders. Not only have terrorist organizations lost more people and resources trying to fight the world’s most effective fighting force in Iraq, they’ve lost massive support among average Arabs as well.

    When direct attacks on US troops became too costly, and Iraqi military targets began to harden to their attacks, they turned their attention (big surprise) on the Iraqi people. So they began to kill civilians, bombing stores, weddings, social events, etc., in hopes of intimidating average Iraqis. Not only that, terrorist cells have been indiscriminately killing Arabs in other countries too, such as in Jordan.

    The result? Polls now indicate that Osama bin Laden is no longer considered a “hero.” In Jordan, Zarqawi’s own family recently disowned him for the the bombings which occurred at a wedding and at a few hotels in that country. Even Syria is beginning to show a degree of cooperation.

    Terrorists have lost their luster in the eyes of fellow Arabs, and they are beginning to turn on them. In Iraq, for example, tips to authorities from ordinary Iraqis have grown from 483 to 4,700 tips in a month!

    We have a unique opportunity here, in this one engagement, to deliver a crippling blow to international terrorism. The fact is, Iraq is not a quagmire for the US, it IS a quagmire for terrorists, as they continue to lose ground both militarily, economically, and politically in an effort they should never have undertaken in the first place. Their only hope of winning is to weaken support here in the US to the point where the politicians force a withdrawal. As long as Bush is President, that won’t happen.

    And Democrats are going to learn yet again in 2006 that turning tail and running from the enemy is neither a good military strategy nor a good political one!

    David

  • Howard

    Well said,David. The part of this puzzle that seems lost is the individual reports coming from troops on the ground in Iraq. While I have no family members there, I still know families who are represented in those forces. I have yet to hear anything negative about the prospects of recovery of Iraq coming from the troops. Can anyone seriously fault the intelligence of these brave men and women?

    Howard

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

    What clinches it for me, Howard, is that a lot of what the troops are saying is confirmed by other sources inside Iraq, like truly independent journalists like Michael Yon and Iraqis themselves.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    “The only reason we did not win in Vietnam was that we chose not to finish the job. As Colin Powell so aptly noted, we did not have the political will to win the war, despite the fact that we had the ground war well under control.”

    Aha! Vietnam revisionism raises it’s ugly head! Maybe we could have won! In another 300 years of tribal warfare. Let’s see…we killed 2million enemy at the cost of 50,000 US, so to get rid of the whole 100 million troublemakers would require 50 times more, why that’s only 2.5 million US soldiers! Oh. But for what?

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    “The only reason we did not win in Vietnam was that we chose not to finish the job. As Colin Powell so aptly noted, we did not have the political will to win the war, despite the fact that we had the ground war well under control.”

    Yeah, we were doing just smashingly in Vietnam when Nixon decided to pull the plug on it for no reason and become the first American president to lose a war. Sure, it’s very common in history for a country that’s kicking ass to suddenly lose the political will to continue and concede.

    I always suspected that this is how the dark side was going to play the endgame in Iraq: “We were stabbed in the back by the liberals/communists/democrats/[fill in the blank] on the threshold of victory.” This type of revisionism was pioneered in Germany after World War I to explain how they could have lost when their government had been telling them for years that things were going great.

    But why limit yourself to the claim that we were about to win in Vietnam. Since reality obviously no longer limits our active fantasy life why not claim that we actually DID win in Vietnam? Why not pretend that Ho Chi Minh city is actually now called Reaganville. And anyone who claims that you can’t find that place on a map, well let’s just call them a coward, or a defeatest or a traitor.

    It really demonstrates to me the value of taking a few history courses as an undergraduate. It may prevent you either from making a complete fucking ass out of yourself for the rest of your life or conceivably destroying the world if you should some day become president.

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

    Regarding David’s comment about winning Vietnam.

    While we were certainly on the ropes when Nixon pulled out, that did not have to be the case. A victory in Vietnam was not inconceivable.

    If we had continued increasing troop strength after the Tet Offensive when the NVA was seriously overextended we probably could have eventually reached the point where they would have negotiated a viable Korea-like settlement.

    The thing which really queered this was not so much anti-war sentiment in the US, but Nixon’s unwillingness to make that final push and his inability to negotiate in good faith at the first Paris peace talks. At that point the VC and the North were willing to give up some concessions and likely stick by the agreement, but Nixon went overboard, tried to escalate the war at precisely the wrong time, and the result was a disaster.

    Dave

  • MCH

    “While we were certainly on the ropes when Nixon pulled out, that did not have to be the case. A victory in Vietnam was not inconceivable. Blah, blah, blah…Yadda, yadda, yadda…Blah, blah, blah…”
    – Dave Nalle
    **military experience:
    – None (zero)

    “Vietnam is a bad war. It can’t be won, we need to get out.”
    – Colonel David Hackworth on “Issues and Answers” in 1971
    **military experience:
    – 26 years active duty U.S. Army
    – 10 Silver Stars
    – 8 Purple Hearts
    – 8 Bronze Stars
    – twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross
    Combat Infantry Badge for 90 consecutive days of combat
    – 7 total years of combat (2 years in Korea, 5 yrs. in Vietnam)

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Civilian control of the military, if it means anything at all, has to mean there is no requirement of military experience before a citizen is allowed to have an opinion about what the military should or should not do.

  • Bliffle

    True. But it is foolhardy for a civilian politician to ignore the evidence and ideas of experienced military men. Foolhardy. And it’s best if the civilian has some experience under fire.

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

    MCH, nice job taking my quote out of context. By the time of Hackworth’s comments the war was obviously no longer winnable. My argument was that to win the war we needed to continue escalating in ’68 rather than start reducing troop strengths at that point. Hackworth would likely agree – many other military experts do.

    Oh, and take Victor’s quote in #40 and print it out and tape it to your monitor for future reference.

    Dave

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    Predictably this discussion has veered away from the main issues which are (1) is Vietnam an apt analogy to Iraq and (2) what is the meaning of Vietnam in the first place.

    Some people believe that the meaning of Vietnam was that a traiterous bunch of un-American pussy-shits (e.g., the McGovernites) made us lose when we were winning on the battlefield. That’s what Flanagan essentially said in his ridiculous comment. Nalle actually disputed this argument.

    The U.S. military was and is designed to fight an opposing army. It’s not designed for counter-insurgency, nation-building, or fighting against loosely organized guerillas. Nor do we want it to be. One of the main lessons of Vietnam, or so I thought, was to try to avoid putting the army in that kind of situation again.

    Our failure in Vietnam was not that we were insufficiently brutal. Look at the Soviets in Afghanistan or the Russians in Chechnya. They were plenty brutal. It didn’t work for them either.

    There never was a coherent strategy for “victory” in Vietnam just like there isn’t one in Iraq. Since there was no conventional battlefield, the military tried to measure progress through body counts and numbers of tons of bombs dropped. They assumed that for each ton dropped x enemy vehicles were destroyed and y enemy soldiers were killed. These metrics were poppycock from the start. What’s really depressing is to hear the military trumpeting similar horseshit from Iraq today and applying the same logic that was discredited 30 years ago.

    The people who protested the war 30 years ago weren’t traitors: they were right. Does that mean that people protesting the war today are right? Absolutely not. It’s a different war. What Vietnam teaches us is that sometimes the government fucks up big-time and if people go along with it out of some misguided notion of patriotism or political allegiance it can take a long, long time to correct the error with many thousands of extra people, American and foreign, dying needlessly as a result. Believe me that the last ones who will ever admit that a colossal mistake has been made are the motherfuckers who made it in the first place. That’s just human nature.

  • Bliffle

    “Civilian control of the military, if it means anything at all, has to mean there is no requirement of military experience before a citizen is allowed to have an opinion about what the military should or should not do.”

    Illogical. Civilian control of the military is to prevent military careerism and arbitrary warfare, NOT to promote the ignorant over the knowledgeable.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Make up your mind, Bliffle. Is it “true” or is it “illogical?”

    So far you’ve called it both. Or is it perhaps some third thing you haven’t yet gotten around to mentioning? Maybe there are even fourth and fifth self-contradictory opinions you’d like to declare.

    I wouldn’t want to impose arbitrary limits on the scope of your inconsistency.

  • http://www.fifthdentist.blogspot.com The Fifth Dentist

    A single first-person account of a war is never really enough to constitute history. A historian reconciles multiple primary sources to impute explanation and cause-and-effect to an objective reality that is inherently without meaning. David Halberstam could take the first person accounts of David Hackworth, Colin Powell, and McGeorge Bundy and make an argument that the war was about one thing or another. But there are limits that even a magician can’t exceed. No respectable historian can argue that WWII started when Belgium attacked Poland. And that’s about in the class that I place Flanagan’s explanation of Vietnam.

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

    Illogical. Civilian control of the military is to prevent military careerism and arbitrary warfare, NOT to promote the ignorant over the knowledgeable.

    Those civilians who oversee the military can be savvy in international policy and political strategy which dictate when to use the military and how to use them, which are not areas which any but a few people actually IN the military are qualified or experienced in. No one in the military below the rank of the joint chiefs has the knowledge or experience to oversee the military as a whole in the context of national policy because national policy is not a military policy, though the military is one part of it. This is why someone like Rumsfeld – despite his failings – is so well qualified to head the DoD, because he has enormous experience in supervising the military from a political/administrative standpoint.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    ‘Make up your mind, Bliffle. Is it “true” or is it “illogical?”‘

    Of course it can be both true and illogical. And it is. Which you would know if you had studied logic, or given it a moments thought. It is true, as the law sets the truth of what is permitted, that the civilian authority need not have military experience or even pay attention to experience. But it is illogical to purposely ignore experience.

  • MCH

    “Oh, and take Victor’s quote in #40 and print it out and tape it to your monitor for future reference.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Sorry, no room…already have your quote where you compare being killed in combat to traffic fatalities taped there.