Friday, September 17, 2004

Is Iraq Viet Nam?

Read the story I link carefully. Notice how many retired generals are highly critical of the situation in Iraq today. Consider some of these quotes from the article written by Sidney Blumenthal.

General Joseph Hoare believes from the information he has received that "a decision has been made" to attack Fallujah "after the first Tuesday in November. That's the cynical part of it - after the election. The signs are all there."

General William Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster."

Odom adds, "Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." He adds: "Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends."

And he continues, "This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies."
No two wars are alike, but there is always the attempt to make comparisons. Iraq and Viet Nam have similarities. Both wars were started with a lie as an excuse. In both countries the resistance is/was more than what was predicted, as well our casulties are/were higher than expected. As well the end is/was never in sight.

But Iraq is going to turn out worse for us than Viet Nam in the long run if we don't consider withdrawal ideas. Not because of the number of troop deaths and injuries (Iraq probably will never pass Viet Nam in these statistics) but because of the region of the world the war takes place. Iraq, as we all know by now, sits on a huge reservoir of oil that year by year becomes more important to the rich economies of the world. Iraq also resides in an area where a religion (Islam) is looking for a unifying cause.

We could win the war in Iraq by escalating it to a fever pitch, but we would certainly lose virtually all of our allies. We would turn the Iraq War into a religious war that would envelope the whole Middle East, a WWIII. I just don't believe the Bush Administration has any interest in this scenario. All that Middle East oil would be cut off from the United States and any ally of America.

So the option is to essentially do what we've been doing, which is not to actually win the war, but to try to settle the country down and create some type of semblance of order. The Bush stated goal is for democracy, but the United States has a very bad track record on creating democracies via wars. Since WWII (not including Germany and Japan) American wars and conflicts have failed to produce democracies almost every time. Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Haiti, Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Nicaragua, the list is long of countries we've had some type of military intervention and didn't create a solid democracy. Why should we think that in Iraq we can?

The best we can do is to try to ease them toward some type of stability and withdraw. It's an illusion to believe Iraq can have an election in January that would be acceptable to the whole of Iraq. Ballot boxes in the Sunni Triangle would have to be guarded with tanks. Just trying to get some sort of registration of citizens to vote is going to be a monumental task.

This is another lie of the Bush Administration, there is not going to be elections in Iraq for at least a year, maybe never. Any attempt to have elections that isn't perceived to be fair to any of the factions in Iraq will be met with violence before, during and after election day. Any American controlled election will be violently challenged.

The United States must start planning a withdrawal. We really have no choice but to leave it up to Iraqis to decide their own fate. Iraq will face big problems whether we stay or go. Civil war probably will happen with American troops in the country, so withdrawing from Iraq won't change that prospect either way.

Iraq is like Viet Nam in another way, America is damned if we do and damned if we don't. We are once again between a rock and a hard place. There is going to have to be a time we admit the Iraq War was a big mistake and get out and when we do reparations will be in order.



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