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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Vietnam by Any Other Name

Bibliography:

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam
by Robert McNamara


Dereliction of Duty : Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam by H.R. McMaster (written as a dissertation by a colonel who just finished a tour of duty at Tal Afar, Iraq, the city cited recently by President Bush as a measurable success, it castigates the generals during the Vietnam War who avoided telling the truth to their political superiors with disastrous results.)

Edward Lansdale: The Unquiet American by Cecil Currey

American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips

The Assassin's Gate by George Packer

"Changing the Army for Counter-Insurgency Operations" by Brigadier General Nigel Aylwin-Foster. (This article was sent to every general in the US Army by the Army chief of Staff. Much of it was publicly disavowed but privately applauded. It was published in Military Review, a US Army publication. The link is to a pdf copy of the article)

I know the administration and other representing the head-in-the-sand approach to foreign policy remain committed to the idea that parallels to Vietnam are fallacious. I cannot help but being struck - as one who lived through Vietnam as a very draftable college study - by the similarities of language and participants. Just look at Rumsfeld, he even resembles McNamara. Both had similar ideological agendas: to reform the military and make it right and efficient; both used language to obfuscate reality ("They didn't even want to say the 'i' word," 'one officer in Iraq told me' "It was the specter of Vietnam... The next word is 'quagmire.'" **. ; and Rumsfeld is well on the well to being discarded the way McNamara was on the slag heap of history. Whether he'll have the fortitude or guts to do a mea culpa as did McNamara remains to be seen. And this ghastly "Coalition of the Willing" for heaven's sake. Twelve soldiers from El Salvador? Vietnam's obloquy to multi-nationalism all over again

Now that we are building permanent bases in Iraq, the future is dim, I fear. Can we never learn from the past? The Communists in Vietnam knew they would win; all they had to do was wait us out. It was, after all, their country. Sooner or later we would have to leave. The insurgents - oh, excuse me, the "enemies of the legitimate government of Iraq - know that too.

And finally, someone admits this war is just about protecting our supplies of oil. Bravo Kevin. Any moron could see that formed a major undeclared justification, even if most reporters ignored Cheney's comments years ago about it being a way to protect our source of oil.

It's all so sad.

** The New Yorker, April 10, 2006, p. 51
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