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Fighting the Vietnam War in Iraq

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Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world’s policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world’s midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war." --J. Kirkpatrick


So, the nation's most prominent draft dodger wants to tell Americans how much of a mistake it was to pull our soldiers out of Vietnam. Calling the debate over whether to remove our soldiers from Vietnam a "legitimate" one, Bush will argue that the "price paid by millions of innocent citizens" by that withdrawal somehow mirrors his own quagmire which the vast majority of Americans have repeatedly demanded he end his Iraq occupation and return our soldiers to home.

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left," Bush will reportedly tell Americans Wednesday as he argues to continue his Iraq debacle.

"Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields,' " Bush reportedly plans to argue.

Bush and his cabal of Cold War dinosaurs have wanted so badly to use their term in office to use our nation's defenses as a chip on America's shoulder to provoke the rest of the world to either acknowledge the U.S. as their master, or to resign themselves to being labeled an "enemy" our government; subject to military campaigns and attacks across their sovereign borders; abductions of their citizens for renditions, tortures, and detentions without charges of any measure of due process of law.

The White House is desperate to hold on in Iraq. There's been a driving obsession from this administration, from Cheney, Rumsfeld on down, with re-fighting the Vietnam war in Iraq to re-pursue the myth that we could have 'won' the conflict if we had just applied more force and not withdrawn. Bush still believes that if he stays his bloody course in Iraq -- if he sacrifices even more soldiers on top of the 3700+ he's already allowed to die for his zealotry -- he's convinced there's something worth those tragic deaths that he can 'win' there.
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How many times did Nixon try to convince Americans that he could 'win' in Vietnam? Nixon, like Bush, tried to deflect responsibility for his own escalation of his war by reminding Americans about Johnson's role as he promised a victorious end to the conflict. He called his own military muckraking, "winning the peace."

One of the Vietnam War's poster boys, Henry Kissinger, slithered out last year and effectively unraveled the lame-duck loser's plans for a military victory in Iraq. Kissinger said then that a military victory in Iraq is not possible.

"If you mean, by 'military victory,' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," Kissinger told the BBC in November.

That's as reasonable as these warmongers get. They've got a lot to cover for their own complicity in the tens of thousands of Americans who were sacrificed by Nixon and his advisers. There is no parallel in Kissinger's experience in advising Nixon on his war which would mesh with his reluctance today to hold out for some military victory in Iraq. The parallel is in Bush's own strategy to remain in Iraq "for as long as he's president" and blame the failure there on those who refuse to agree to let him run amok indefinitely with our military forces there.

Kissinger, a major architect of the deadly military aggression in Vietnam, took the view when advising Nixon on how to withdraw, that if he just left the soldiers in place and propped up the South Vietnamese government instead of pulling our troops out - giving them what was described a "decent interval" - the Nixon administration could weather the presidential election and continue to hold power. Nixon was heard on recently released 1972 tapes saying "South Vietnam probably would never even survive anyway."

"We also have to realize, Henry, that winning an election is terribly important," Nixon was heard telling Kissinger. "It's terribly important this year, but can we have a viable foreign policy if a year from now or two years from now, North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam? That's the real question."

It's no coincidence that Kissinger's "decent interval" ploy looks a lot like the way Bush managed his Vietnam-like quagmire in Iraq in the months after the midterm congressional elections which removed his enabling republican majority and replaced it with Democrats pledged to end the occupation. It was well known almost a year before the elections that his Iraq folly would be a major factor in determining whether Bush held on to his republican enablers in Congress. In June, the military launched what they thought would be a strengthening of the new center of Iraq's fledgling government by combining Iraqi forces with U.S. troops.

Yet, the mission to reclaim Baghdad had been going on for months -- initiated right after Bush's surprise visit to the Green Zone in March 2006 -- without any noticeable reduction in violence outside of the cordons of tanks and armored vehicles that the U.S. forces erect around the towns. Neither had the 'foot patrols' that the Pentagon ordered our soldiers to perform in Iraq as a 'goodwill 'gesture' managed to reduce the animosity the Iraqis feel for our invading/occupying forces. Instead, the attacks on our soldiers in Iraq escalated and the civil war deepened. Five thousand more U.S. troops were added to the Iraq theater in the weeks leading up to the November vote, bringing the total to over 155,000 troops. If Baghdad was the 'center' of any military effort, it failed miserably.

Bush began insisting on the campaign trail that Iraq was the "center" of his "war on terror", because, "bin-Laden said so." Flying frantically around the nation with his fear and smear campaign to keep hold of his republican enabling majority in Congress, Bush told Americans that he intended to keep our soldiers in Iraq until he can manage to declare some sort of victory. He said that he was waiting for Iraqis to unify. He said he was waiting for Iraqis to train their military and police. He said he was waiting for Iraqis to stabilize their government. He said that "the only way to lose in Iraq is to leave before the job is done," but, he also said he wouldn't "put more pressure on the Iraqi government than it could bear."

Well into August, however, 'Operation Forward Together' had no more secured Baghdad than the previous mission -- dubbed 'Operation Lightning' -- did in 2005 where Iraqi militias and U.S. troops waged a campaign of repression against the resisting Sunni populations. The present mission is more of the same, with U.S. forces knocking down doors, kidnapping whoever they choose and holding them indefinitely in one their prisons without charges, basically terrorizing the residents into submission as they paint a target on the military occupied towns.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price

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