Sunday, February 06, 2005

Iraq and Vietnam Compared . . . Again

One of the most common refrains of the opponents to the war is that Iraq is a second "Vietnam," and we'd better pull out now because it's a "quagmire" and we can't win. The San Francisco Chronicle has added yet another article to the pile of defeatist diatribes. The story begins with this setup:


The voters came to the polls in huge crowds, ignoring insurgent attacks and casting their votes under the protection of U.S. troops. International observers praised the process, calling it a triumph of democracy and a defeat for tyranny.
Iraq 2005?
No. South Vietnam in September 1967.


That's a prefabricated AH HA! moment. It would have perhaps been a more effective plot twist if the headline above the story had not been: Iraq's Election Turnout Carries Eerie Echo of Vietnam in 1967. The story continues:

As we now know, South Vietnam's experiment in democracy didn't work out well. Communist forces launched the Tet Offensive four months later, forcing the U.S.-backed government almost to its knees, and finally conquered the nation seven years afterward.
After last week's election in Iraq, many critics are finding eerie parallels with the Vietnam vote. Will Iraq turn out the same? Were the elections a sham, a foreshadowing of increased conflict, as claimed this week by Sunni clerics in Iraq who are close to the insurgents?


Oh no, It's Vietnam! Arrgh, run away, run away!

The Vietnam-Iraq comparison is overblown (you should check Walter's opinion on the subject in The Big Lebowski). The biggest problem with the comparison is that the South Vietnamese government fell not by the violence of the Viet Cong (the "insurgents" of the day), but by a full scale invasion of the North Vietnamese. The insurgents did not defeat the South Vietnamese government, a foreign invader did (and even then they only won because Congress cut off military aid to the South Vietnamese while the Soviets kept pumping weapons and money into the North).

Also, the devastation of the Tet offensive is a myth. The United States and its allies easily crushed the offensive. However, Walter Cronkite and the rest of the American media got ahold of the story and spun it into an American defeat (media bias is not a new phenomenon). This is exactly what they are trying to do in Iraq.

(To be fair, the story in the Chronicle did contain some examples of how the two conflicts are different, buy the first few paragraphs, which I have reproduced above, reflect the main gist of the piece.)

Sean adds: One possible parallel between the two conflicts (Iraq and Vietnam) that I am willing to accept is this: in Vietnam, when American forces pulled out, there was an epic blood-letting in southeast Asia at the hands of communists. Millions of people perished. We don't here much about that though, seeing as withdrawal was viewed by the left (media) as a major victory for them. I would also assume that it is viewed as a victory for "human rights" as well. Please forget the millions who died because they don't fit the prevailing narrative.

Iraq has brought many truths to the forefront (Oil for Food, Saddam's bribes, his pursuit of nasty weapons, European complicity, etc) but perhaps the most revealing is how those that claim to advocate the rights of humans really don't. They have proven that they are willing to ignore certain types of slaughter, if the slaughtered don't fit the narrative (oppressed by America and evil corporations, etc.). Well one thing is for sure; the best way to ensure a human slaughter comparable to late seventies' Southeast Asia is to pull out of Iraq before the people are safe. Then it really would have something in common with Vietnam.

TommAy adds: Whuddup Noey! The Vietnam comparison drives me crazy. One of many distinctions between the two that I see most clearly is, what I believe, one of the main points: The nature of the enemy. This one simple thing makes any comparison of Iraq to Vietnam very deceptive.

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