8 09 2007

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars last month, Mr. Bush invoked the killing fields of Cambodia and the boat people of Vietnam as reasons why the United States should stay in Iraq, implying that our withdrawal from the struggle in Vietnam was a failure of American nerve that cost more lives than would have been lost had we somehow “stayed the course” in Southeast Asia. “there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left,” he said. To him, there’s a legitimate debate. To me, debating the Vietnam war is about as legitimate as the debate about global warming—or gravity, or whether the earth revolves around the sun. There’s the facts, and then there’s the dogma of the First Church of Perpeptual Denial, aka the Republican Party. Their stance on these issues and Senator Craig’s pathetic statements in his own defense differ in content, not quality.

Mr. Bush’s linkage between Iraq and Southeast Asia falls apart quickly when subjected to the tests of history and good sense. Actually, there is linkage, but as we will see, it is just the opposite of what he proposes.

First, the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the resultant “killing fields” stemmed from the Kissinger-Nixon secret carpet bombing of Cambodia, which decimated the country when it was officially neutral in the struggle in Vietnam, and motivated its people to back the Khmer Rouge, who had little popular support until US bombs began to fall. The US dropped more tons of bombs on Cambodia than all the Allied nations combined dropped on all the Axis Cforces during all of WWII. Two and three-quarter million tons, five and a half BILLION pounds of explosives, on a country the size of Tennessee. For some reason, this did not make them like us. These days, we keep hearing rumors of massive “surgical air strikes” on Iran. For some reason, what did not work then is expected to work now.

What is more, is that, even after the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime were exposed, the US covertly supported them, even to the point of backing the Khmer invasion of Vietnam that proved to be their downfall. After they were overthrown by the Vietnamese and had become a marginal guerrilla group, the Khmer Rouge were still supported by the United States, which backed their claim to Cambodia’s UN seat until the early nineties. Gee, didn’t we create Al Qaeda in the first place and support them ’cause they were anti-Communist? Huh?

So much for US withdrawal from Vietnam leading to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields. We can state pretty conclusively that it was just exactly our involvement, not our withdrawal, that caused the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Oh yeah, did I mention that part of the rationale for the US’s genocidal attack on Cambodia was to “provide cover” while we withdrew our troops from Vietnam? Hey, let’s just kill these innocent Cambodians, Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians, whoever, on our way out! The beatings will continue until morale improves! But, I digress…..

Second, the situation in Vietnam was generated when the US, which initially supported Ho Chi Minh, rejected his overtures after WW II and chose to back continued domination of Vietnam by the French. We demonized Ho, who quoted the US Constitution in his inaugural address in 1945. The US saw things in black and white, Communist/antiCommunist terms, and so preferred colonial dominion to a friendly independent. We ended up with neither. If not for American intransigence, there would have been a different outcome in Vietnam: no war, no boat people, no re-education camps.

The US committed over half a million troops to South Vietnam, which had a population of about sixteen million at the time. So now, a third that many US soldiers (half that many, if you count all the mercenaries) are supposed to try and control half again that many Iraqis, 24 million, while traditional military wisdom (which has proved to be right about this one thing, anyway) states that you need at least a ten-to one advantage over a guerrilla force in order to effectively combat it. This would have taken a million troops in Vietnam, a force the US couldn’t muster, and our current level of troop commitment in Iraq is already straining the army without getting the job done—leaving alone for the time being the very important question of whether the job should be done. And sure, not all Iraqis are insurgents, but opinion poll after opinion poll indicates that most of them want the US out of their country. Is Mr. Bush teaching the Iraqis his version of “democracy” by ignoring this? It would seem so.

Now, as for the boat people and re-education camps….. There are already Iraqi “boat people”–four million Iraqis —a sixth of the country–are refugees. due to Mr. Bush’s misguided attempt to seize Iraq’s oil resources. If Iraq were an island, they would need boats and be more obvious, but as it is, about two million people have slipped quietly over any border that will let them through, figuring it’s better to live with hardship in Syria or Jordan or Iran than it is to die in Iraq. Another two million have fled hostile neighborhoods or towns that have been the subject of US “pacification” efforts, like Fallujah, but stayed in the country. As in Vietnam, it is apparently necessary to destroy Iraq in order to save it. And re-education camps? Can you say “Abu Ghairab,” boys and girls? Can you say “extraordinary rendition”?

Now, that’s not to deny that, when the US withdraws from Iraq, there will not be more people fleeing from just about any regime that comes to power, and that’s not to say that whatever government forms in Iraq when the US leaves is likely to have an ideological agenda that will cause it to behave intolerantly towards some of its citizens. However, the fact that the Bush junta broke it in the first place is not a reason to allow them to stay there and continue to smash it into dust, not incidentally trashing the US economy and civil society in the process.

And no, Mr. Bush, we do not pull out and leave a power vacuum—we ask Iraq’s concerned neighbors to form a Muslim peacekeeping force that will be respected rather than resisted by the people they are policing. And since it’s our mess, we pay for it, at least in part by confiscating all the inflated profits your friends at Haliburton and other such pirate outfits have made at the public expense. Then, if we’re not in Iraq as a target, things might just calm down enough to solve.

Another purported parallel is “we have to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here.” In the Vietnam era this was known as “the domino theory.” It never happened then. These people want to be left alone. They do not want corporate American culture and its attendant economic religion. If we leave them alone, they’re not going to come over here and stir up trouble. If we leave them alone. If. If. Can the ravenous beast of corporatism be contained?

Since I started writing this, a new Bin Laden video has appeared (from the bowels of our own black ops gang, for all I know), prompting Mr. Bush to boast about how we are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq. Gee, when Saddam ran the country, he kept the fundamentalists at bay, but now that we’re there….. Kind of like the way we opened the door for the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Heckuva job, Georgie!

The last comparison between Vietnam and Iraq is Mr. Bush’s own conduct, which is similar in both cases. In both cases, he has let others be the ones to fight and die. The same goes for Mr. Cheney. Two greater bullies and cowards have not been seen on this planet since Stalin choked to death while his aides cheered or Hitler took his last piss on Eva Braun.

So, as I said, there are parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, but not the ones Mr. Bush claims to see. The parallel is that the US created both messes, all the while acting like it was somebody else’s fault. We did very little to clean up our mess in Southeast Asia. People there are still dying from land mines and unexploded bombs, and birth defects and cancer from our massive defoliant campaign continue to harm people who weren’t even alive when that war was fought. Let’s hope we can do better than that when we withdraw from Iraq.

And lastly, Mr. Bush, will you and Mr. Cheney please finally admit that you have run this country totally into the swamp, aka a quagmire, and moot the whole impeachment debate by just resigning?

Another world is still possible.

music: Incredible String Band, “The Half-Remarkable Questionlyrics only




3 responses

8 09 2007

The US dropped more tons of bombs on Cambodia than all the Allied nations combined dropped on all the Axis Cforces during all of WWII.

Can this be possible? Good God.

9 09 2007

It is apparently the case–check out the link on “motivated.” The report, from Yale University, is well documented and includes both a nationwide and sample closeup map of where Cambodia was bombed. Well worth a look.

23 10 2007
Ken Larson

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak. I believed another Vietnam could be avoided with defined missions and the best armaments in the world.

It made no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

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