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A comparison of conveniece

August 24, 2007

Throughout the war in Iraq, President Bush has firmly dismissed comparisons with Vietnam, and his aides were careful not to mention that still-raw conflict in defending his policies.

But the president abruptly shifted course this week in a speech in Kansas City, Mo., before a friendly Veterans of Foreign Wars audience. He was attacking what he saw as the historical amnesia of war critics who recall the withdrawal from Southeast Asia as having relatively few consequences — after all, Vietnam is a peaceful friend of the United States today — and that pulling out of Iraq might similarly end the fighting.

Said Bush, “One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid for by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields.’ ”

Wars, once having been started, have wholly unpredictable consequences and thus are not really comparable in productive ways. Still, the superficial comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq are compelling.

We felt threatened by a sinister transnational movement, communism then and radical Islam now. The aims of our involvement kept shifting. Originally we were in South Vietnam only as military advisers; in Iraq, in search of WMDs. The South Vietnamese government was unstable, fractious and corrupt.

Successive U.S. governments, bolstered by congressional delegations to the war zone, offered unrealistically optimistic assessments of the war’s progress, and domestic opponents were demonized as aiding and abetting the enemy.

Finally, the Johnson and Nixon administrations lacked all credibility on the war, and political and public support for continuing it collapsed. Even so, it took us about six years to slow-walk backward out of Vietnam. At the end, there was no viable alternative.

The president would have been better off sticking with his policy of dealing with the Iraq war on its own terms rather than by comparisons with Vietnam. The analogies do not serve him well.

4 Responses to A comparison of conveniece

  1. VietnamVet

    August 24, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Of course, one of the things he failed to mention is that Vietnam was a trumped up war just like this one in Iraq! Nor, did he mention that “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Nor, if Vietnam falls, so will the rest of SE Asia, that old “domino” theory.. Those were the drum beats to justify staying in Vietnam and the same ones, warmed over, being used to stay the course in Iraq. Guess what: we did leave Vietnam and not a single one of the Viet Cong followed us home. Nor, did the rest of SE Asia fall like so many dominos. For Bush to use Vietnam as a comparison to Iraq is nothing short of a disgrace! The man is living in another world, one of lies, deceit, misleading, and so on. The real reason for being in Iraq is OIL and anyone with a grain of sense can see that.

    One of the ‘stanch’ supporters, Australia, has now admitted that oil was an issue in determing to support Mr. Bush’s war.

    Published on 5 Jul 2007 by The Age. Archived on 5 Jul 2007.
    Nelson: Oil a factor in Australia’s Iraq deployment
    by AAP

    The Howard Government has today admitted that securing oil supplies is a factor in Australia’s continued military involvement in Iraq.

    Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia’s contribution to the unpopular war, as “energy security” and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the nation’s future.

    See more at:


    And you can google Australia and support for Iraq war for more.

    I doubt we will see the same admission from THIS administration, given the continuous lies that have been heaped on the American people.

  2. Ardie

    August 25, 2007 at 2:58 am

    We all remember the Vietnam Q word. So did Cheney back in ’91. Apparently he forget it in 2003.

    “I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion.” ~ Dick Cheney April, 10, 1991, The Washington Times

  3. Ardie

    August 25, 2007 at 3:03 am

    We all remember the Q word from the Vietnam era. So did Cheney back in ’91. He seems to have forgotten it in 2003.

    “I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion.” ~ Dick Cheney April, 10, 1991, The Washington Times

    Per omnia extrema

  4. SEAL

    August 25, 2007 at 4:45 am

    If I heard right on Bill Mahr tonight, the panel had dates and instances to prove that quagmire in Iraq analogy was used 3-4 times by Cheney in the 90’s. I was walking into the room when I heard the conversation, so I’m not positive about it. I’m an accurate listener, though. I will watch the rerun.