Carol Platt Liebau: Just Like Vietnam?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just Like Vietnam?

As the incomparable Norman Podhoretz points out, Vietnam and Iraq have very little in common -- except for the ugliness of the politics animating the left.

11 Comments:

Blogger The Very Sane Woman Who Points Out the Obvious said...

I'm not a historian, nor am I a psychologist. But it's so odd to me how almost every discussion of the war on Iraq includes comparrisons to the war of Viet Nam.

Why is this?

I think that there are similarities of the situations, such as the untruths of Gulf of Tonkin and mass destruction weapons. But there might be a deeper psychological similarity.

During the Viet Nam war, as a Christian, I worked in the peace movement. I was very involved in my church's work to help men avoid the draft, mostly through CO status. Some we helped to get up to Canada. I've talked to a lot of these men since, and most all of them are convinced that they (and we) did the right thing. There are a few, however, who feel real guilt over their avoidance of the draft, and a subset of these who have become absolute hawks. (One lies and tells people that he is a Viet Vet.)

Could it be that this war, now, is in some way a means for George W. Bush to fight the war that he didn't fight 35 years ago?

And maybe it's the same for others of this administration, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Now, vicariously, these men can fight the war that they avoided. this is a way for them to deal with their guilty feelings.

As I said before, I'm not a psychologist, but it seems like a good question to ask.

Any other thoughts?

Oh, one last thought from me: I do not think any less of Cheney, Bush, et al for avoiding Vietnam. I congratulate them and commend their actions at that time for not supporting a horrible, deadly mistake.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

One might as well say that liberals are reliving the glory of their youth.

Of course, this glory ignores the hundreds of thousands to millions who died as a result of the Democratic Congress denying South Vietnam its promised aid, as well as recent scholarship suggesting the war was largely won.

Sleep well tonight.

8:24 PM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

All those "thousands to millions" who died would have remained alive had America simply allowed the North to take over the South without any military involvement at all.

Think about it - had America not intervened in Vietnam then all those dead Vietnamese and Americans would still be alive today, and Vietnam would have had the government they have today.

North Vietnam was no threat to global peace. There was no domino effect. It's the same with Iraq.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote again.

Before the US got in the French were there, so there still would have been bloodshed in the North taking over the South.

Eisenhower was wiser than Kennedy and Johnson. So much for "pay any price, bear any burden", I suppose.

This issue is, once you're committed, then what?

As Colin Powell said, "you break it, you bought it."

9:36 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Let's not get into the trap of attempting to understand the psychology of individuals. You can get interesting results for groups, but individuals are almost impossible to figure out.

Coyote, your assertions about the end of the Vietnam war are strikingly similar to the old "stabbed in the back" mythology that animated German politics in the 1920s. The South Vietnamese collapse had many causes, the most proximate of which was the series of contradictory orders to its most powerful armored division, which left that division strung out along a road and utterly useless. Remember also that, when the US left Vietnam, the South Vietnamese Air Force overnight became the fourth largest air force in the world. These people had plenty of weapons. They did not collapse because they ran out of ammunition. They collapsed because the South Vietnamese polity had no political cohesion. The South Vietnamese government was very much like a brain-dead patient that we were keeping alive with machines. The collapse of this hopeless case was inevitable. We might -- MIGHT -- have been able to delay the inevitable by a few months or maybe even a couple of years if we were lucky. But the final outcome would have been the same no matter what we did.

Our problem was that we committed to an impossible task. How far do you walk down a doomed path before you change direction?

10:10 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

Nixon and Kissinger knew South Vietnam was going to fall when they signed the treaty. When Ford requested additional money several years after the last troops had been withdrawn, 78% of Americans disapproved and 50 Republicans joined the Democrats voting nay.

11:57 PM  
Blogger The Very Sane Woman Who Points Out the Obvious said...

Coyote says that the Viet Nam War was largely won.

When?

In 1963 we did regime change in South Viet Nam and had Diem killed. If there was a war to win, there wasn't one after that point. The south went into chaos. In a few short years the Viet Cong essentially controlled the countryside, because the South Vietnamese saw their military governments, that came and went with the seasons, as more and more to be US puppets.

Johnson secretly expanded the war. Nixon dropped a ton of bombs on North Viet Nam for every second he was in office, more than all the bombs dropped during WWII. But it was Humpty Dumpty time. No amount of bombs or blood could win that war.

And the men waging the war knew it. On recently released tapes Johnson can be heard, not long after the Gulf of Tonkin, saying that he knew that there was no way to with the war in Viet Nam.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

Sane [sic] Woman, I did not state the war was largely won, I said there was recent scholarship that said so.

From Amazon.com: "There was a moment when the United States had the Vietnam War wrapped up, writes military historian Lewis Sorley (biographer of two Vietnam-era U.S. Army generals, Creighton Abrams and Harold Johnson). 'The fighting wasn't over, but the war was won,' he says in this convention-shaking book", A Better War."

2:40 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Coyote, I don't think Mr. Sorley's opinion on this matter is widely shared by others familiar with the Vietnam war.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

Chepe, you comment is perhaps true. But, is it relevant?

I was reponding to a comment about something I supposedly stated.

Also, whether the author's view is widely shared does not, in and of itself, reflect on his scholarship. In 1906, for example, there was one person in the world who thought time was not constant to all observers.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Coyote, I'm not attempting to disparage Mr. Sorley, nor even to dismiss the possibility that he is correct. My point is only that his suggestion that the war had already been won is not a hypothesis that demands a lot of credence. It could be true -- but the body of evidence I have seen suggests otherwise.

6:24 PM  

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