Bush’s Vietnam

I like to think that our leaders have at least a cursory understanding of human history. I believe that if they do, they will learn from the past and not repeat its mistakes. After all, one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.

Yet, for those of us who came of age during the Vietnam era, it’s like déjà vu all over again. Of course, the Dubya-licking neo-cons will argue that the war in Iraq is a completely different conflict that has absolutely no similarity to Vietnam. They’ll argue that Saddam had WMDs, was harboring Al Qaida, and we should fight them over there or we’ll be fighting them over here.

Well, let’s do a one-on one comparison and see just how similar or non-similar these two conflicts are. And just to get it started, we use the word “conflict” because Congress never passed an act declaring war against Iraq, as it did in World War II. It also never declared war against North Vietnam, either. And that’s just for starters.

In Vietnam, the initial stated mission of American troops was as “advisers” to the South Vietnamese army. We were to “train” the South Vietnamese army to fight its own battles against the insurgents and provide security for its own nation. But after several years of failing to meet that goal, and as the insurgency (Viet con, or VC, aided by North Vietnam, and later regular North Vietnamese troops aided by China) got bolder and stronger, we ‘surged” our troops to provide security for the corrupt and ineffective South Vietnamese government to stabilize and allow time to take over the fighting and security of their own country. The continued excuse given to the American people was that if we didn’t fight the communists over there, we would be fighting them over here.

General William Westmoreland would go on TV at regular intervals to declare that “we are winning” in Vietnam, regardless of cost.

A popular president (LBJ, post the Kennedy assassination) who had won re-election became increasingly unpopular because of the “war with no end”, and his stubborn commitment to “victory” in Vietnam.

In Iraq, we invaded ostensively to disarm Saddam of his WMDs (never found), and set up a democracy which could govern itself. We were to “train” the Iraqi army to fight its own battles against the insurgents and provide security for its own nation. But after several years of failing to meet that goal, and as the insurgency (Sunnis, joined by foreign fighters, and later Shiites, and aid from Iran) got bolder and stronger, we ‘surged” our troops to provide security for the corrupt and ineffective Iraqi government to stabilize and allow time to take over the fighting and security of their own country. The continued excuse given to the American people was that if we didn’t fight the Islamist fundamentalists over there, we would be fighting them over here.

Military commanders would go on TV at regular intervals to declare that “we are winning” in Iraq.

A popular president (GWB, post 9-11) who had won re-election became increasingly unpopular because of the “war with no end”, and his stubborn commitment to victory in Iraq, regardless of cost.

American support for both conflicts started strong, but waned as Americans saw that the promises of early accomplishment and completion were empty, American death toll mounted and the puppet governments we were supporting would fold like cheap suits if it weren’t for the tremendous resources the US was pouring into these conflicts, and needless deaths of thousands of American G.I.s.

There are many other similarities, e.g. atrocities, torture, contractors getting rich, government abuses, US agencies spying on Americans, etc. and this blog would be a mile long if I listed each one. For instance, who can forget Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the “Pentagon Papers”, showing that Americans were lied to by their government about the war in Vietnam, which resulted in his abuse by the Nixon administration? Or was it Joe Wilson’s Op-ed piece in the New York Times describing how Americans were lied to by their government about the war in Iraq, which resulted in his abuse by the Bush Administration?

Sorry about that. It’s hard to keep them apart. :)

The bottom line, of course, is at the top of this blog: one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.

So it truly begs the question: What does this say about the Bush administration and its supporters??

Think about that.