One of the surest signs that the current administration are either liars, complete idiots, just plain stupid, or, as seems to be the case, all of the above, lies in fact that they deny things are true when everyone with half a brain knows that they are. For instance, the Bush administration's claim that we cannot compare the Iraq War to the Vietnam War is, quite simply, an absurd statement and not worthy of even passing belief. To the contrary, other than the locations of these two wars, the similarities are irrefutable and the end result in Iraq will be the same as the end result of the Vietnam War, despite our soldiers ' best efforts. It doesn 't matter whether you 're fighting tree-to-tree in the jungle, or house-to- house in a town in the Iraqi desert. When the war has no front, no back, no sides and is fought in a 360-degree configuration, it is the same war, no matter where it is fought.
By the same token, no matter what we call them or think of them, the two insurgencies saw and see themselves as armies of national liberation. In this regard, George Bush can call them terrorists, thugs, criminals or any of the other jingoistic names he and his minions have created for them. It really doesn 't matter in the end what they consider the insurgents; what matters is what they consider themselves and how the civilian population sees them. This is simply a fact of modern insurgency warfare and a force fighting, in their minds, for the liberation of their country from an occupying army will not ever be defeated. You need only look at our own revolution, or the war for the liberation of Texas from Mexico, to know that this is true.
Second --and this is, perhaps, the most important and deadly similarity --when you can 't tell the bad guys from the civilians, you are just plain screwed. It necessarily means that innocent civilians are going to be killed in massive numbers and this act will further turn the civilian population against us. When we call these deaths "collateral damage, " or one of the other euphemisms we have created to downplay large numbers of civilian casualties, it is seen as lessening the value of innocent human life and this, in turn, can only serve to turn potential civilian support against us and toward the insurgency. This is what happened in Vietnam and it is happening in Iraq. Just the other day, as the US military admitted that there had been numerous civilian casualties during recent fighting in cities that are insurgent strongholds, they noted that they "take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties. " When you call in an airstrike, or unload a couple of M-1 tanks into a group of buildings, and you don 't know if there are civilians in the building, you aren 't taking any precautions at all. A decision has been made in these circumstances simply to kill everyone and sort out the insurgents from the civilians after the rubble has settled. Wars of insurgency have always been fought in this manner and they always will be. Those who deny this reality are just ...well ...they 're just pinheads and, frankly, they really don 't care about the civilian casualties. If it furthers the cause of killing the enemy, the loss of civilian life is merely part of the cost of trying to win.
Third, for the Bush administration and the military to act as if the use of suicide bombing and massive numbers of IEDs and booby traps is something that was wholly unexpected, is the worst type of callous disregard for the history of the Vietnam War. I served for more then eighteen months as a member of Army bomb squads in Vietnam. During my time there, I and my teammates, and the members of the other ten Army combat EOD teams, spent most of our time disarming IEDs and booby traps --thousands and thousands of them. The VC and NVA regularly employed large command and pressure detonated devices to take out armored vehicles, inflicting death and maiming injury to the occupants and those within close proximity. Moreover, the VC and NVA regularly killed civilians without compunction for the same reason the insurgents regularly kill civilians in Iraq. The population see it as our fault --if we weren 't there, their sons, daughters and wives wouldn 't be dying by the drove, even when we are not doing the killing.
Fourth, during the Vietnam War we trained millions of soldiers for the South Vietnamese Army. We armed them with state of the art hardware, aircraft, ordnance and everything they needed to carry on the fight after we left, which they didn 't. Despite all of this training and armament, they just did not have the will to fight an enemy that was one in purpose and goal and, by all accounts, when the enemy was strong enough, our former so-called allies largely turned and ran. This is not to say that some South Vietnamese units did not fight to the death and acquit themselves with honor and valor and I suspect that when we leave Iraq, some of the "new " Iraqi Army will also fight to the death. In the end, however, given the level of their religious and sectarian animosities, it seems highly unlikely that the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will unite to fight what we claim is their common enemy. In their minds, each of the other groups is the enemy and, to the Sunnis, at least, we are the enemy.
In President Bush 's recent speech at the Naval Academy, he regaled us with tales of how much of the war in Iraq is now being fought by the "new " Iraqi army. We heard that there are now this many battalions actively involved in the fighting and that some of them are actually leading the fight while American soldiers are merely there in a support capacity. Donald Rumsfeld and some of the generals have voiced similar pronouncements, as have some US politicians after returning from fact-finding trips to the war zone. I 've got news for you: this is the same load of tripe we were fed by the politicians and generals during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was there and I can tell that, by and large, our so-called allies just never had that killer instinct, never had that total will to fight to the death. There is no reason to believe that, in the end, the same result will not occur when we pronounce that the Iraqis are ready to carry the fight by themselves.
And that is the rub. In both wars, we know that the US government, democratic and republican administrations alike, lied over and over again to the American people to try and convince us that these two wars could, in fact, be won in some kind of conventional sense. Furthermore, to try and buttress the position that we can win in Iraq by pointing to Afghanistan is revisionist history of the worst sort because it is being revised on a daily basis now and not more than thirty years later like the claims that Vietnam was not like Iraq, or vice versa.
In case you haven 't noticed, the Taliban may be out of power, but they are not gone and never will be. This year, more Americans have been killed in Afghanistan than the total number killed from the time the war began in 2001 and the end of 2004. Opium production is now at a higher output than at any time before the Afghanistan War began and, once again, Afghan heroin is killing US citizens. Just as we turned a blind eye and even encouraged and supported opium production in Southeast Asia, we are doing the same in Afghanistan. There is no getting around the fact that US soldiers are dying in Afghanistan to help support tribal warlords who are growing opium and who owe no allegiance to the current Afghan government. I 'd call this cynical, but that just doesn 't describe what it really is.
Finally, just as the insurgency in Vietnam was supported by outside powers --North Vietnam, Russia, China --so is the insurgency in Iraq and, for that matter, the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan. Iran, Syria, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia, to name a few, all support, either overtly or covertly, the insurgency in Iraq. We know this, they know this, hell, everyone who is not dead or in a coma knows this. Just as we did not send ground troops over the border into North Vietnam, neither are we allowing our troops --even when they are in hot pursuit of the insurgents --to cross the borders into Iran, Syria, or Pakistan in order to kill the enemy. At least in Vietnam, we had the balls to bomb the country that was lending military and logistical support to the insurgents. In Iraq and Afghanistan we don 't even do that.
Now, the Bush administration and their spineless supporters, virtually none of whom were ever in the military, let alone in combat, will say that what I 'm talking about is bad for the troops. It 's bad for morale, some would say traitorous. I have several things to say about that. First, I support our soldiers totally and completely. Like myself and most of us who served in Vietnam, we were volunteers, just as is today 's military. A lot of us, myself included, volunteered for duty in Vietnam and many of us, like me, extended our tours, or volunteered for second and third tours. And even though many of us knew the war in Vietnam could not and would not be won in a conventional sense, we fought without question, killed the enemy and died and bled for our country. War-mongering pieces of dung like Dick Cheney, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, Bill Frist and the rest of these multiple-deferment monkey boys, have no cause to say anything. To be blunt, they are simply cowards who refused to serve their country because, as some have admitted, they "had more important things to do. " When these scumbags call a hero like John Murtha a coward, they should be thrown out of office and, hopefully, they will be.
POSTSCRIPT: Today is December 3, 2005. As further evidence that the Iraq War cannot be won, today 's events in Fallujah prove the point. Ten Marines were killed and eleven others wounded when a foot patrol was hit with a large IED. According to the reports, the device was composed of several large artillery projectiles that were wired together and detonated when the patrol entered the device 's kill zone. This is exactly the same kind of device I saw dozens of times in Vietnam and, in fact, I disarmed a similar device in the middle of an LZ during a combat assault while an NVA soldier was attempting to detonate it.
Here 's the deal: Fallujah is completely surrounded; every road in and out of the city has a checkpoint and all vehicles and persons are checked. There are approximately 4,000 Marines in and around Fallujah with regular patrols around the clock. So, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney--how did the insurgents plant this device without being seen by the Marines? A device of this nature would have to be carried into the kill zone, a large hole would have to be dug, and the device would have to be rigged and armed and then buried. Why didn 't any civilians see this happening and warn the Marines, or even report it anonymously? Here are the answers: (1) the Marines cannot be in all places at all times; (2) the civilians hate our guts, don 't want us there, aren 't going to report anything and many of them support the insurgents. This is precisely what happened in Vietnam every day and there is no reason to believe anything is, or ever will be, different in Iraq.