John McCain used to be a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and, according to the 1973 U.S. News and World Report version of his experiences there, he was held in "a small area of Hoala Prison which was built by the French in 1945. It was known as the 'Hanoi Hilton' to Americans." And, ironically, approximately 35 years later there really IS a Hilton hotel in Hanoi -- only this one is actually owned and run by the real Hilton hotel chain. I bet you that even Paris Hilton goes there now -- and brings her chihuahua too.
Once the war in Vietnam ended, things in Hanoi changed a lot.
So. What's my point? That torturing and killing Iraqi POWs is a good way to keep the American POW population down? Hardly! That's something Bush or Cheney would think up, not me. MY point is that there are two particular similarities between the Iraq war and the war in Vietnam that I would like to bring up right now, just in case you might have missed noticing them yourself -- which is not likely because they stick out like a sore thumb.
First, there is the civil war similarity. "If we leave Iraq now while it is in the midst of a civil war, there will be slaughter and chaos," we are told again and again. This has become one of the main justifications for continuing the occupation of Iraq. But weren't we told the same thing as a justification for occupying Vietnam? If memory serves correctly, there used to be a huge civil war going on in Vietnam 35 years ago -- and Johnson and Nixon kept telling us that if America pulled out of Vietnam, whole bunches of Vietnamese would be slaughtered as a result and that country would fall into chaos forever. Yeah, well, the civil war in Vietnam ended as soon as American troops left, and the entire country is now governed by the rule of law.
There was no major slaughter and chaos after Nixon pulled out of Vietnam -- and Southeast Asia didn't turn Commie either. So I guess that both of those theories were wrong. And I'll bet that they will prove wrong in Iraq as well.
There's a moral here, guys. Here it is. "If American troops pull out of Iraq right now, by the year 2038 we could have Hilton hotels open for business in Baghdad, Fallugah, Basra AND Mosul." So. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR!
PS: Here is an excerpt from a forthcoming book by a political commentator and former active-duty Marine who won a Purple Heart in Vietnam. Sewart Nusbaumer's book is tenatively entitled "Campaign Addict" and describes his harrowing adventures on the 2008 presidential primary campaign trail and at various "Flying J" truck-stops along the way. And while in Chcago, Nusbaumer interviewed one Chicago Gold Star mother who had lost her son in Iraq:
"This war is going to be like Vietnam, in vain," said Barbara. As she looks out onto Halstead Street, cars drive by, a woman and her young son pass us. But I doubt she sees them. "You ask people 15 years down the road and they won't know anything about this war. Like Vietnam. Are Americans really that unappreciative of the lives that keep them free?"
Her son's death had nothing to do with Americans being free -- she knows this. Jonathan died in Iraq as those who died in Vietnam, not for freedom, but in vain. I say in a low voice, shaking my head slowly, "I don't know the American people anymore." And I wonder how could the majority of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11 when there was not a shred of evidence? How could Americans support an invasion and occupation of Iraq without proof of weapons of mass destruction? How could Americans allow Jonathan to be killed when Iraq was not an imminent threat to America? I don't know Americans anymore.
It's all as if Vietnam never happened. As if Americans never learned that they cannot trust their government to tell them the truth. As if they never learned that they cannot trust their government with their sons' lives. Maybe there never was a Vietnam, for the majority of Americans.