Iraq and Vietnam

Iraq and Vietnam

This is a response to the Angry Economist’s \”Iraq and Vietnam\” (12/15/2005) article. William P. McGowan should be an angry economist. He is limited to creating arguments that have no basis on what is actually occurring. Let\’s look at this with a critical perspective/pedagogy. First, I will quote some of the points he attempts to argue.

1) \”In neighboring Cambodia, the sudden vacuum created by the American pullout allowed Pol-Pot\’s reign of terror, which resulted in the death of what is conservatively estimated at three million people.\” 2) \”The main body of people who oppose the war [in Iraq] are those who hate George Bush so much that they would much rather see him suffer a defeat in \”his \” war, in spite of the consequences their \”victory\” will have for the region.\” 3) \”With the decline of its Soviet Union sponsor and its historical enmity with China, Vietnam\’s leaders had no choice but to adopt capitalism in spite of what Uncle Ho would have done.\”

McGowan states that U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam created Pol Pot’s rise in power and the genocide. In actuality, Pol Pot and his regime existed before 1975 and rose into power because of \”… Nixon\’s secret war in Cambodia\” as McGowan acknowledged in the beginning of the article. People would not have supported Pol Potif the U.S. military had not bombed nor killed large numbers of their people.

McGowan\’s following point was that people against the war hate George W. Bush. Most people find this war immoral. I don\’t focus on Bush himself as the individual solely responsible for the deaths of over one hundred thousand Iraqi women, men and children and over two thousand U.S. women and men. You have to look at the power structure and the interest it protects. War business corporations such as Halliburton, the Carlyle group and Bechtel are just some of the groups benefiting from the war. As a result, Dick Cheney and other Bush cabinet members have profited. It is not a coincidence that Cheney was the chair of Halliburton and that Paul Wolfowitz went from architect of the invasion of Iraq to president of the World Bank. Their intention was to remove Saddam because he no longer followed orders. Their interests, which were the oil resources in Iraq, were targeted for acquisition. The war in Iraq is based on a regime change policy, period.

The third point McGowan tried to make was that socialism is dead. In fact, it is just the opposite. As I type this, Bolivians have chosen an indigenous socialist for their president. He has been quoted as being adamantly against globalization. Uruguay has recently voted in a socialist president who is also a doctor. In Spain, citizens responded to the terrorist train bombings by voting in a socialist president who immediately pulled Spain\’s military forces out of Iraq. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, also a socialist president, overcame a U.S. backed coup.  (Venezuela provides nearly 15 percent of U.S. oil imports.) Venezuela has now joined Mercosur, South America\’s leading trade bloc. Mercosur, which already includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, presents an alternative to the so-called Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, backed by the United States. Bush has condemned Chavez for this. BUT Bush is doing business with President Hugo Chavez to sell heating oil at discount prices to low-income communities in Boston, the South Bronx and elsewhere in the United States — one of the more ironic gestures ever in the North-South dialogue. The deal developed after a group of U.S. senators sent a letter to nine major oil companies asking them to donate a portion of their recent record profits to help poor residents cover heating bills. The only response came from CITGO, Venezuela\’s oil company.

In the end, the issue is not about analogies of the Vietnam War. It is about preserving capitalism and classism. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. Look at the war on communism, the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, and now the war on the American people (Again! Remember Cointelpro, the FBI counterintelligence programs to repress political dissent in the 1960\’s?). Misinformation and state sanctioned spying have slowly come into light since 9-11. Fascism is alive and well in the United States.

War has long been discredited and the withdrawal from Iraq is long overdue because the U.S. should have never invaded it in the first place. Although Bush is just a puppet, he is no less guilty of war crimes. Impeach Bush; impeach his cabinet.

Omar A. Ramirez  

Impeach Bush!

Bush has admitted that he ignored the law and gave secret orders for the NSA to spy upon Americans totally illegally, pushed for torture by the CIA, started a war for admittedly no good reason and based on lies (read the papers from 2002). The military spying on Quaker peace groups in Pennsylvania? The secret prisons and torture chambers maintained worldwide?

What makes him different from Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Sadam Hussein and Kim Jong Il? The inspiration of his god?

If some private exotic sexual practices of a president and embarrassment in admitting to them or protecting your buddies in a two-bit burglary are sufficient for a Bill of Impeachment, it is clearly sufficient for these high crimes and misdemeanors of Mr. Bush as stated in the Constitution.

Gary Orthuber, Oxnard

Iraq and Vietnam

Ever since Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., took to the floor of the House of Representatives and declared that our troops’ presence in Iraq was bad for the United States, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, critics of the war have amplified their calls for withdrawal. And now, more than ever, critics of the war are making even more comparisons between this fight we’re in now and Vietnam.

As I’ve said in this space before, this analogy has always been wrong, yet it persists. In past columns I’ve laid out in clear detail why it is likely our troops will be in Iraq for a while — certainly longer than the next mid-term elections. That said, since critics of the war continue to frame the debate in terms of Vietnam, allow me to insist that they carry the analogy to the same conclusion achieved in Southeast Asia.

Here’s what I mean:

For most Americans, the understanding of the Vietnam War follows a linear trajectory. In the popular interpretation, it goes from Johnson lying about an attack on a destroyer (Tonkin Gulf incident) to Nixon’s secret war in Cambodia, to the collapse of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. What people do not learn is the role that Congress played in all of this. Though three presidents from two parties assured the people of Vietnam we would stand by them as allies, Congress cut and ran after Nixon fell in 1975. Gutting all funding for the war effort and monies already pledged to our ally, South Vietnam, Congress left the South Vietnamese unarmed and defenseless in the face of an invading communist army. “Re-education” camps, political imprisonment and death followed for millions thereafter.

And these were the lucky ones. In neighboring Cambodia, the sudden vacuum created by the American pull-out allowed Pol Pot’s reign of terror, resulting in the death of what is conservatively estimated at three million people. For Americans, The Killing Fields was a movie; for an entire generation of Cambodians, it was something that occurred in their lifetimes.

The main body of people who oppose the war in Iraq are those who hate George W. Bush so much that they would much rather see him suffer a defeat in “his” war, in spite of the consequences their “victory” will have for the region. As with “Nixon’s War,” the reason we invaded Iraq was that the mindset towards people who threatened the United States had changed in the days after Sept. 11. Some people think this was an aberration, but the policy that sprang forth from the Bush administration in the days and weeks following the terrorist attack has deep roots in American policy. Since Britain appeased Hitler in Munich and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor by surprise, the fundamental policy of western democracies has been to oppose aggression when and whereever possible. And, despite its critics, this policy worked.

After undergoing its period of communist-oppressed “workers’ paradise,” Vietnam is one of the fastest growing capitalist economies in Asia; not because of the wise leadership of the Communist Party, but in spite of it. With the decline of its Soviet Union sponsor and its historical enmity with China, Vietnam’s leaders had no choice but to adopt capitalism in spite of what Uncle Ho would have done. This pragmatism has paid off. Vietnam’s people, still scarred by their experience with communism, are beginning to prosper again.

What everyone forgets between the last American helicopter on the embassy in 1975 and this rosy picture of Vietnam today is the 15 years of sheer hell that the Vietnamese and Cambodian people experienced because we did what Bush’s critics want us to do in Iraq today. This raises the fundamental question: Regardless of what one thinks of George Bush, is it right for the United States to show up, make promises, break things and then simply leave? Are we willing to accept the human carnage that is guaranteed to follow?

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