2005/09/22

Vietnam & Iraq

AmericaBlog writes a post entitled "What's the excuse this time?" about the Vietnam War and how conservatives blame the media and disloyal politicians.

OK, so they have the war that they always wanted, they've managed to neuter the press and for a good while had the country buying their story and accepting it all.

So how come Iraq is such a mess? They enjoyed complete GOP control in Washington, found enough dumbass Democrats to go along with it and yet they still couldn't get the job done.
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C'mon, they were all supposed to be experts at this (as they often liked telling us) and yet it's a mess.

If anyone knows who their whipping boy is this time and what the excuse is I'd like to hear it.

I had an email exchange with a conservative recently and, among other topics, we traded the following remarks:

[Quote from my earlier email] "The battle for hearts and minds is over and the US has decisively lost. It's time for our guys to pack it in and come home."

[His response] I believe that dangerous idea is the product of a sustained mainstream media attack on Bush and the war. I remember the same kind of language being used to get us to withdraw form Vietnam and when we did and South Vietnam fell, what did we find out later from the other side -- that they were on the verge of defeat and only the American anti-war movement saved them. John Kerry was even honored by them for his efforts. (Sorry, but I don't forget -- or forgive)

Recently, a leader of the Sunnis said that they should stop the violence and start entering into the government -- and I haven't read that he was later killed. And though the news since has been dominated by Sheehan and Katrina, the violence does seem to have slowed. If it loses its critical mass of Sunnis, the insurgency will have no base and it will collapse.

As for the theological "hearts and minds" aspect of this war, it's no slam dunk for the opposition. The 'insurgents' are in a tight position also, killing "true believers" when they can't get us, which is most of the time. My major fear is that the Iraqi government will turn more to the religious leaders to stop the violence. That is why we must stay.

My later response to him:

During the late 80s, I worked a somewhat dull job as a receptionist at a private school. I picked up one to three-inch-thick books and finished them in a week or so. I picked up several books on Vietnam, middle-of-the-road, right-wing (Defined as "We coulda won, if only...") and left-wing. Yes, the North Vietnamese decided in 1968 to allow the Vietcong to exhaust themselves against the Americans by directing them to launch the Tet Offensive, meaning most of the fighting after that was done by North Vietnamese regular troops.

No, I never heard that there was any sort of collapse in the offing. My understanding at the time (I was 15 when Saigon fell) was that Vietnam had a large, young population and that producing more fighters every year was something they could have kept up more or less indefinitely.

One of my major conclusions from my readings was that the US lost the war on the ground, after which we lost it among our public, third and last, the media turned against the war. The media is basically driven by money, not ideology (Today Fox News on TV and Air America on the radio are specifically and deliberately ideological.) Most of them are driven simply by the need to attract eyeballs to their commercials.

Accordingly, various sources have dated the media's turning against the Vietnam War as just around the time of the Tet Offensive, which coincided with the point where over 50% of the American public decided that the war was a mistake.

As most Americans have reached the same conclusion about Iraq, I fully expect the media's view of that war to get darker and darker, though supporters of the war will try hard to reverse that tendency.

He never responded after that. The problem from my perspective is this: the right wing is beating up on the wrong enemy! The problem with winning the Vietnam War was located in Vietnam, not in America's media or in its' politicians. The problem today is that Iraqis don't particularly like being occupied by American troops and both major groups, the Sunnis and the Shiites, are looking forward to the day when the Americans leave. Generally. the Shiites have been quieter because they feel they can simply wait for the US to leave and control of Iraq will drop into their laps. The latest troubles there do not indicate that their patience is limitless. They're getting itchy to see Americans go back home.

The solution seems pretty simple at this point and should be on the lips and in the writings of every Democratic politician: To get the money to fix things after Katrina and Rita, the US needs to withdraw from Iraq!

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