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February 18, 2007

Comments

Characteristically, RedState went further, describing the passage of the House resolution as "taking the initial step toward engineering the defeat of the United States in Iraq."
I pre-emptively -- or was it preventively? -- responded at length here.

So why did the Republicans vote for defeat in Bosnia?

11/9/1995- H.R. 2606
Title: To prohibit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense from being used for the deployment on the ground of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of any peacekeeping operation, or as part of any implementation force, unless funds for such deployment are specifically appropriated by law.
Why did they vote for retreat in Haiti?
October 1994. P.L. 103-423 – A joint resolution regarding U.S. Policy Toward Haiti. Congress supported a “prompt and orderly withdrawal of all United States Armed Forces from Haiti as soon as possible.”
Why did they vote for genocide in Rwanda?
September 1994. P.L. 103-335. The Congress declared “no funds provided in this Act are available for United States military participation to continue Operations Restore Hope in or around Rwanda after October 7, 1994, except for any action that is necessary to protect the lives of United States citizens.”
Why did they vote for what became Ronald Reagan's strategy of cutting-and-running from Lebanon?
June 1983. P.L. 98-43 — The Lebanon Emergency Assistance Act of 1983. The Congress required the president to return to seek statutory authorization if he sought to expand the size of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon.
More:
President Reagan signed P.L. 98-119 on October 12, 1983. Soon after enactment of P.L. 98-119, 241 U.S. Marines in Lebanon were killed on October 23, 1983 by a suicide truck bombing. On February 7, 1984, President Reagan announced the Marines would be redeployed and on March 30, 1984, reported to Congress that U.S. participation in the Multinational Force in Lebanon had ended
Why did Ronald Reagan hate America?

Why did Republicans vote to cut-and-run in Somalia?

November 1993. P.L. 103-139. The Congress limited the use of funding in Somalia for operations of U.S. military personnel only until March 31, 1994, permitting expenditure of funds for the mission thereafter only if the president sought and Congress provided specific authorization.
Why do Republicans hate our troops, and America?

Again, they wouldn't support the troops in Kosovo:

Congress also attempted to use denial of funding for the Kosovo operation. On April 28, 1999, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1569, by a vote of 249-180. This bill would have prohibited the use of funds appropriated to the Defense Department from being used for the deployment of “ground elements” of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia unless that deployment was specifically authorized by law.
Needless to say, this was while our forces were in combat against Yugoslavia, and it was wartime!

Isn't this a a hanging offense? Why did Republicans hate our brave fliers of the United States Air Force, and refuse to support them?

For the Republicans in Congress to accuse the Democrats of emboldening the enemy is like an arsonist who has set a house on fire...

Before or after the rocks come through the house's window?

Hilzoy,

You're assuming that a major factor in the squandering of this war has been incompetence by Administration officials. Perhaps relying entirely on this hypothesis.

While I would like to give this Administration the benefit of the doubt and just assume they are incompetent, there is a second, and more disturbing hypothesis:

Have you considered that perhaps the objective here is perpetual war?

Talk about http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2007/02/wright_underest.html>emboldening. Not that anything more should have been expected from the creation of a lightly defended target rich environment.

"In so doing they forfeited the right to accuse anyone else of emboldening the enemy, or to lecture others about how very, very important it is that we win."

Not really, hilzoy. They may have lost the right to be believed, but that won't prevent them from being believed.

In 30-40 years, there will be the 2047 version of CB, saying how we would have won in Iraq if not for the Democrats, just like CB refers to Vietnam now. It doesn't matter that it has absolutely no validity. People make claims to agin power. republicans still claim Reagan is responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union, another claim with no validity.

So what?

I just wish that the Dems would cut off the funding. They are so afraid of being accused of being against the troops that they won't do the right thing.

Thanks for the list Gary. And BTW, in regards to the other thread, you and I are basically in agreement.

I have been a supporter of the surge from the start. I’d really like to continue to support it, there are signs it is having a positive impact in Baghdad, even if only temporary. But I can’t get past Nell’s comment from yesterday: “A friend's son is due to come home this spring from his fifth tour (he's an Army National Guard medic).”

I guess I knew it was possible for that to be the case, after all it has been over five years. But I had not been confronted with the reality of it until yesterday. The thought that we have asked people to do not 2 or even 3 but FIVE combat tours is staggering, and I can’t get past it.

In the past I’ve pretty much swallowed the hype that we were meeting recruiting and reenlistment goals. I’ve repeatedly made the argument that we could manage a surge, that we had the troops. But this makes it too obvious for me to ignore that we have a serious manpower shortage.

Consider this a formal retraction of my support for any surge.

I still do not support any non-binding nonsense, or especially any back-door de-funding designed to provide political cover for politicians. But as I have been of the opinion that a troop increase is what we needed to win, if I acknowledge we can’t support a troop increase then I have to acknowledge we can’t win. Given that, I now support a full withdrawal and I think that Congress should block all money except what is needed for a safe redeployment.

Now I have to write a note of apology to Congressman Gilchrest for the rather, uhm, “heated” note that I sent him yesterday.

I'm still in favor of my surge, and if my war aim is not acheived, it will be because GWB and his supporters didn't want to focus on a realistic goal -- inflicting a mortal wound on AQ (as it actually exists) -- but instead wanted to pursue the fantasy goal of creating a Citie upon a Hill. With forced labor, as it were.

This is the way wars end; it's very rare for the loser to admit defeat until the loser has no options left. The real magnitude of our loss is going to become apparent when we withdraw; an air withdrawal is going to be difficult, since someone in Iraq seems to be able to bring down 'copters. If we want the majority of our equipment back, the troops are going to have to travel overland to Kurdistan or Kuwait, defending themselves against whatever opposition turns up. A while back, TNH wrote, "Personally, I intend to henceforth refer to the whole complex of political and logistical problems attendant upon our getting out of Iraq as the Anabasis."

I think of Nell's friend's son whenever someone war supporter claims to support the troops. Not willing to pay the taxes to pay for the war, not willing to have a draft to get more troops, just willing to send someone else's son over there for the fifith time. Some support.

Steve, I respect you a lot. 'Taint easy, and I appreciate both your thoughts and your willingness to share them with the rest of us.

I am against the so-called surge but aren't there still lots of troops without immediate vital tasks at hand hanging around in bases round the planet that could be used? I have certain doubts that Central Europe or Japan will be immediatley overrun by Russia/China/North Korea, when US troops are temporarily withdrawn (I explicitly except South Korea from that).
If this "surge" is only a short-term undertaking (which I do not believe given the current Administration),then it should be possible to get enough boots (i.e. a good deal more than planned) on the ground for it.
Btw, we shouldn't forget the not actually ideal situation in Afghanistan over Iraq.

It's not resolutions that embolden the enemy; it's the fact that our invasion of Iraq has so obviously turned into a disaster.

I don't believe it's an either-or equation, Hil. I agree that the Bush administration has emboldened the enemy by so poorly prosecuting the post-Saddam war, but the Democrats (in my opinion) have also emboldened the enemy by saying they support the troops on one hand but opposing what they do and opposing the present strategy on the other. The frustrating part is that we finally start executing a strategy that has a track record of working, and the Democrats pick this very time to go into heavy opposition mode. But I can't blame the Democrats too hard for it. It took a blown election for Bush to get off the schneid and start putting his MBA to good use.

but the Democrats...

given that one of Bin Laden's goals is to keep the US embroiled in a war in the greater middle east that would enflame the region and turn the people against the US, and that Bush is doing, um, exactly that, and given that another of his goals was to get the US out of Saudi Arabia, and given that another of his goals is (presumably) to not get himself killed, and, etc..

tell me, apologist, who's emboldening "the enemy" ? is it the guy who keeps gifting OBL with items from his wishlist, or the party who's not in control of doing that ?

Bird, the only way this strategy has a chance of working is if we drafted another hundred thousand troops.

The idea that the enemy needs emboldening beyond the presence of over 100,000 heavily armed foreign soldiers that don't share the language, culture, religion and alphabet of the locals is laughable.

"You know Hamid, I was just about to give up the Jihad and go back to my old job, but then the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution opposing send more of their soldiers here, and I am emboldened!"

The attacks on U.S. soldiers will continue until the last one leaves Iraq.

The frustrating part is that we finally start executing a strategy that has a track record of working, and the Democrats pick this very time to go into heavy opposition mode....It took a blown election for Bush to get off the schneid and start putting his MBA to good use.

This is so wonderful. Tell it to the families of the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq while Bush sat on his a$$ the past almost four years.

Charles:

Just for the record, could we maybe get a concise definition from you of exactly what you mean by "support the troops"?
Or at least, why you feel the need to use that formulation in your criticism of Congressional Democrats?

AFAICT, when comments like "support[ing] the troops" emanate from starboard, it is usually verbal shorthand for "reflexively and uncritically cheerlead for Bush's Iraq policy" - and serves mainly to try to deflect criticism away from the architects of this bloody and horribly ill-conducted campaign (and their enablers in public life).
I realize that is it is damaging to soldiers' morale to have consider their service in the light of (in John Kerry's formulation) being "the last [one] to die for a mistake"; but pretending that there were no "mistakes" in a situation like Iraq doesn't, in my estimation, do them much good, either.
Except, of course, to assuage the consciences of those gung-ho war-floggers who have insisted on framing the Iraq invasion/occupation in inappropriately absolutist terms, and can't come to terms with the reality of a failed policy.

The frustrating part is that we finally start executing a strategy that has a track record of working, and the Democrats pick this very time to go into heavy opposition mode . . .

This is rich. I thought your main criticism of the Democrats from 2001-2006 was that they were in "heavy opposition mode." You know, the Party of No and all that? What you mean, I think, is that they're actually in a position to do something about it, yes?

It took a blown election for Bush to get off the schneid and start putting his MBA to good use.

So what was his excuse before?

OCSteve, I'm really glad to hear you're writing back to Gilchrest. I honestly believe he's trying to do what he believes is the right thing, and what his constituents want.

Another note about my friend's son: He's been opposed to the war since before it began, and his in-laws are very, very right-wing true Bush believers. It's very hard to imagine what kind of pain he's gone through in the last several years; medics' work is a constant facing of the worst of war.

His parents are died-in-the-wool Democrats, Irish-Americans from Scranton PA, who support Jim Webb fervently (we made sure they got a chance to spend time with him at last fall's fundraiser). I wish I had the faith they do that Webb and other Congressional Dems will get the troops home.

Thinking of him is what's made me so deeply disappointed by the extent to which the argument has been put out that Dems in Congress simply can't vote to cut funding because the political cost is too high (either 'hurting the troops' or the danger of feeding a future stab-in-the-back myth).

Some of those putting forth those arguments I don't have much respect for at all, like Kos and many similar nakedly political operatives. Others, like Eric Martin, I respect a great deal. I want to engage his arguments more calmly and more effectively than I've been able to do up to now.

Gary has posted excerpts from a good piece on the actual history of Congress and the Viet Nam war on his blog. Can you help, Gary? I have too many windows open now to find the link.

I think I know what Bob McManus means about believing things would be different after 1975. It's in the years between then and 1980 that the Viet Nam stab-in-the-back myth was spread. It was the right doing the initiating, but as so often, enabling by "liberals" gave it legs.

Charles: what is this "strategy that has a track record of working" of which you speak? Surges don't, especially not given the size under discussion: we've been there and done that, and it hasn't worked yet. COIN: obviously I'm no expert, but as I understand it we aren't providing nearly enough troops for that either, and to do so for Baghdad alone we'd basically have to strip our forces out of the entire rest of Iraq. (And I wouldn't count on the Iraqi forces to fill in w/o some evidence of where their loyalties lie.)

So I'm not sure what you're referring to. To me it just looks like more losing, only this time with even more troops in harm's way.

Bruce: Thanks. 'Taint easy is right.

Nell: Thinking of him is what's made me so deeply disappointed by the extent to which the argument has been put out that Dems in Congress simply can't vote to cut funding because the political cost is too high (either 'hurting the troops' or the danger of feeding a future stab-in-the-back myth).

I think they are in a lot more danger politically by not coming right out and cutting funding. Of course the GOP will make hay out of it right through the next election. Depending on the actual aftermath, that may hurt them, possibly a lot.

But the direction they are headed right now is even more dangerous politically I believe. If the general public comes to see them as playing politics with this they’ll be run out of town on a rail. The WaPo absolutely spanked Murtha this weekend.

BTW – on Gilchrest, I told him that as a constituent and a registered R he has my support to cross the aisle and vote for withdrawal, whether it is by de-funding or revoking the authorization to use force, or whatever.

I’m just hoping it is two different staffers who read the two different emails :)

OCSteve: "In the past I’ve pretty much swallowed the hype that we were meeting recruiting and reenlistment goals."

Dunno if you saw this post I put up last night on how the current regime have been Strengthening Our Army.

Randolph: "...since someone in Iraq seems to be able to bring down 'copters."

That would be enough people with concentrated small arms fire, for the most part, and the occasional handheld SAM, as I previously discussed here. See here for the latest.

Hartmut: "Btw, we shouldn't forget the not actually ideal situation in Afghanistan over Iraq."

You mean the huge crisis in Afghanistan, in which we may lose it, if we don't continue to increase troop strength, and resources, there, and make far more sane plans as regards trying to fight an anti-drup war that is largely in contradiction with winning hearts and minds (as I've posted about eight billion times on my blog).

Charles: "The frustrating part is that we finally start executing a strategy that has a track record of working,"

You're sure your last name isn't "Brown," rather than "Bird"? You keep kicking Lucy's football.

Nell: "Gary has posted excerpts from a good piece on the actual history of Congress and the Viet Nam war on his blog."

What Congress Did About Vietnam. But I'd also point to the post I already linked to in a previous comment here, CONGRESS' WAR POWERS.

I have to say that I really wish more people would read up on the full history of Vietnam; there are innumerable excellent and fair histories, from Stanley Karnow on; I particularly wish Charles would read a lot more about the history of the Vietnam War, and not from left-wing sources, but simply from reputable mainstream historians who aren't right-wing ideologues; he could only benefit, and finally learn that his beliefs that the Democrats ended a winning war is, ah, not what happened.

As regards the "hope" or "hopeful start" of the "surge," anyone who reads the comments out of Central Command will note that our generals say that what's happening is that: a) militants are laying back for a while to study our new movements, so as to best understand how to attack them; and b) waiting to a large degree for the "surge" to wash out again.

Even if one hypothesizes that all the militias, both Sunni and Shia, and the Shia death squads in the police and many ministries, are too intimidated to raise their heads for some time during the "surge," do we expect them to become peaceful within months, so that, say, by the end of the year, they'll have decided to stop killing, since we'll have made Baghdad such a paradise by then? Or are we planning on keeping this escalation in Baghdad indefinitely?

Anyway, it's great to see a conservative with such undying faith in the Power Of Government to Make Things All Better. If a New Deal will work in Iraq, why not try one at home again?

reputable mainstream historians who aren't right-wing ideologues

I'd be interested in any suggestions you might have Gary.

Gary: Dunno if you saw this post I put up last night on how the current regime have been Strengthening Our Army.

I had seen the source article - very depressing. When I signed up the standards were very rigid, and you wouldn’t get a waiver for much of anything. I was about 20 pounds over the weight limit at the time. They let me into the Delayed Entry Program with the understanding that I had to lose the poundage before my report date (about 6 months off). The recruiter rode my ass for those six months, making sure I was losing it. In any case, it was very clear that I had to meet the standards or that was that.

They also claimed I was color-blind and I didn’t get my first choice MOS because of that. I never believed that, but the comment verification graphic here is making their case – it usually takes me a couple of tries to get it right.

My niece recently joined the AF. She’s a little chunky. It’s apparent that she is likely over the weight limit (as I was familiar with them) but they took her anyway.

I'll check out your Congress/Vietnam post.

About reputable books/historians on Vietnam: "I'd be interested in any suggestions you might have Gary."

It's unfortunate that I don't have any of my former book collection here, of the ~150+ books on Vietnam I used to own, though the bulk of my reading over the decades was library books, and then the many hundreds of manuscripts I read during the couple of years (1986-88) I was working as an editor on Avon Books' Vietnam War line; we did both nonfiction history, and fiction, and a lot of personal memoirs, including Michael Herr's Dispatches (which is terrific, and should be read for flavor and a ground-level view, though not for strategic insight into the war overall). When I refer to "manuscripts," by the way, I don't mean slush; we were a paperback-only house then (though doing joint hardcover deals with our Hearst cousins, Morrow and Arbor House), so the manuscripts were those of already published, or to be published, hardcovers, or from already published writers. (We commissioned the novel of "Hamburger Hill," and got to see an advance screening of the film, which was nice; also, the novellas, both published ("The Short-Timers") and at-the-time unpublished ("The Phantom Blooper"), of the somewhat crazed Gustav Hasford, whose work was part of what went into Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, are astonishingly good, but I digress.)

Much of my reading, to be sure, consisted of more specialized stuff than general histories, and unless the reader is seeking to read more than 50 or so books on the subject (hey, go for it!), wouldn't be recommendable for overview. But, in general, the more one reads, the higher the quality of one's mosaic view.

But for history, off the top of my head, well, I recommended Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History. I'd recommend not reading just any one book or historian or POV, but a wide spread.

Those I'd recommend would include the works of Bernard Fall, George C. Herring's America's Longest War, Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.'s The Army in Vietnam, Neil Sheehan's A Bright And Shining Lie, Sheehan's After the War was Over: Hanoi and Saigon, maybe John Keegan's Dien Bien Phu, Lt. Col. David H. Hackworth's work, John Prados' stuff, Philip Caputo's, Frank Snepp's Decent Interval, Jeffrey Kimball's stuff, John S. Bowman's The Vietnam War: An Almanac, Stanley I. Kutler's Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, Gloria Emerson's Winners And Losers, and about a jillion others I'm forgetting at the moment.

And, of course, the Pentagon Papers are must reading, and are completely available on the web, as are endless other valuable papers and articles and essays: tons and tons. See, for instance, here, the oral histories of American generals here,

Okay, too many links, and it won't let me post, so I'll split the comment.

Part II:

This is an interesting symposium in 2000 with Joe Galloway, Sidney Schanberg, Peter Arnett, and other journalists of the war, as well as soldiers such as Herbert Fix and Russ Thurman on the fall of South Vietnam, though it's merely eyewitness accounts. There are a bunch of Kissinger memos here. There are a bunch of Ford documents here.This is a useful CIA study on CIA intel during the war, entitled Why CIA Analysts Were So Doubtful About Vietnam." A good look at McNamara's perspective.

Frances Fitzgerald's Fire in the Lake is still worth a read. So are Kissinger's and Nixon's memoirs.

I do idly wonder what Charles' view of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and process of resolution is: does he (or anyone) disagree that what happened was a combination of confusion, mistaken information, indifference to sorting out any confusion and publicizing the actual facts, and outright fraud?

"I never believed that, but the comment verification graphic here is making their case – it usually takes me a couple of tries to get it right"

Aside from the fact that it's in black and white, is there anyone it doesn't usually take a couple of tries to get right? As a rule I frequently can't make out what at least one letter or number is supposed to be, it's so hidden behind curlicues and a faded presentation. It's a truly crap system; I'm only grateful that the Blogger captcha is perfectly readable.

I'm only grateful that the Blogger captcha is perfectly readable.

i mess-up the Blogger one far more than i do this one. sometimes i just can't tell the 'i' from the 'j', on the Blogger one, because of the way they twist the letters.

this one is tough, too, though. that grain effect can turn 'C' into 'G' or 'e' pretty easily.

Thanks Gary.

To add to Gary's impressive list, there is also William Duiker's biography of Ho Chi Minh. It doesn't talk that much about the war, since, after all, Ho died in 1969 and had been marginalized for a while beforehand, but it does give an excellent sense of how US, Soviet, Chinese, French, and of course Vietnamese politics led up to what happened.

Aside from the fact that it's in black and white, is there anyone it doesn't usually take a couple of tries to get right?

Heh. Thanks Gary. Idiot military doctors kept me from being a helicopter crew chief for no reason. (Not really, all the wiring is color coded so if there is any doubt…)

OCSteve,

I'm impressed. It's never easy to admit such things. Nell recently raked me over the coals for my own mini mea culpa over at AmFoot.

But I probably had it coming...

I should have mentioned that there are a number of superb bibliographies on the Vietnam War on the web, but Edwin E. Moïse's is one of the best and most comprehensive, and includes innumerable links to stuff readable online, as well.

As the Republicans (the Delay, Ney, etc version of corrupt plutocrats) headed down the toilet in 2006, I kept seeing the silver-lining in sending the Republicans a wake-up call as well as two years of defeatocrat, treasonous tantrum-throwing.

The defeatocrats couldn’t wait. Their unfettered desire to see the country they so despise( USA) go down in ignominy can’t be checked.

Two years of this bunch and even the American people will be shaken from their semi-permanent stupor and fixation on getting “free stuff” (as promised by the Democrat/socialists).

The Democrat party: the gift that keeps giving.

"...there is also William Duiker's biography of Ho Chi Minh."

Duiker has written a number of books on the War, as well, including The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam and Sacred War: Nationalism and Revolution in a Divided Vietnam, which is a history of the war, neither of which I've read, but have heard of.

"treasonous"

This word doesn't mean what you think it means, troll. Try reading the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article III, Section 3:

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
It doesn't consist of a troll's name-calling of people who have different policy views.

Of course, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs doesn't understand what "treason" is:

Debate, Discourse Not U.S. Weaknesses, Pace Tells Troops
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Feb. 10, 2007 – No enemy should confuse U.S. debate on the war in Iraq for weakness, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.

[...]

The meeting showed that servicemembers are clearly worried about the debate going on in Congress about operations in Iraq. “Fundamentally, debate in the Congress of the United States is good for the health of our democracy,” Pace said. “All of us who wear the uniform … believe that, fight for that, and would be very upset if anyone tried to take that opportunity away.”

The chairman said the problem lies with enemies who look at debate, dialogue and discourse as signs of weakness. “The problem is that our enemies, who have no clue what democracy is all about, don’t understand that debate,” he said. “The trash heap of history has a lot of corpses on it -- of nations that misunderstood the will of the American people. The (enemy) should not repeat the mistake that many have made about our country.”

Are you one of these "enemies," insofar as you agree with them? Or not?

The Secretary of Defense is also a traitor:

Gates added that troops understand members of Congress want to find the best way to win the war. "I think they're sophisticated enough to understand that that's what the debate's really about," he said.
President George W. Bush, also a traitor:
As scholars and thinkers, you are contributing to a nationwide debate about the direction of the war on terror. A vigorous debate is healthy for our country, it really is, and I welcome the debate. It's one of the true hallmarks of a free society, where people can get up and express their beliefs in open forum.

[...]

Members of Congress have every right to express their opinion -- and I fully expect them to do so.

Bush repeatedly defends traitors:
Seeking to earn his bipartisan stripes, he also said that opposing him on the war - as many in the room do - does not mean "you don't share the same sense of patriotism I do."

"You know, I welcome debate in a time of war and I hope you know that," the president said. "These are tough times, but there's no doubt in my mind that you want to secure this homeland as much as I do."

Damn him for supporting treasonous defeatocratism.

It's the "Democratic Party," by the way, unless the president is the leader of the Repub Party.

graywolf: Two years of this bunch and even the American people will be shaken from their semi-permanent stupor and fixation on getting “free stuff” (as promised by the Democrat/socialists).

Anybody else notice how often Democrats are now described as 'socialists' lately? I guess they figure 'liberals' is worn out now. Or, more likely, 'liberals' are showing up in polls more recently, so they have to move the goal post again to marginalize the Democrats. Just wondered. I've been hearing it a lot.

The Red State post referenced by Hilzoy contains a comment in its thread which refers to the two Democrats who voted against the resolution as "Democrat patriots."

To be sure, the two are probably "socialist Democrat patriots who coddle fat black welfare mothers and want to put warning labels on our automatic weapons and feed our daughters the morning-after pill with our stolen tax dollars", but I thought it was kind of nice in a bohunky, bullet-headed sort of way: "Democrat patriots".

Here, incidentally, is a pdf of a somewhat naive and overly-optimistic New Yorker "Letter From Saigon" from January, 1975 (a bit faded in spots, I'm afraid, but readable), which gives a sense of an American perspective on Vietnam at the time. Note in particular all the material about the corruption of the regime, and Thieu, and the opposition to him by Vietnames Catholic bishops and archbishops, and by Buddhist leaders (the old story, still ongoing and crucial). Also the stuff about "phantom soldiers," padded military payrolls, "flower soldiers," deserters (over 150,000!), recruitment targets not being met, soldiers imobilized in outposts, and "declining morale." And about the return to the pre-1965 situation of the South losing about two guns for every one the North lost.

The writing on the wall was there, if you knew to look for it.

Gary has, as one might expect, given a very useful introductory bibliography to books on the Vietnam War, and even included a link the far larger bibliography of Ed Moise (once a colleague of mine in grad school!), which is pretty much state of the art.

I thought about adding a few recommendations (to Gary's list, not Ed's), but stopped short because I'm lazy and because I wasn't sure anyone really wanted more.

However, when I was teaching a course on the VN war a couple of years ago I decided against assigning Karnow because it was just too long for most students to read (or, more precisely, if I assigned that I couldn't assigned the many other readings I wanted them to do.) In search of something shorter, I considered histories of the war by both George Herring and Michael H. Hunt (and I'm not going to link them, because you can look them up easily yourself - did I mention I was lazy?)

Both of these focus on the VN war as an aspect of American history, however, and although that's an entirely respectable approach, and may be what you want, I was hoping to find something more "Vietnam-centric," one which depicted the indigenous struggle there as something that began before we arrived and continued after we left.

And I stumbled on one that did the job pretty well: Kevin Ruane, War and Revolution in Vietnam, 1930-1975, London: UCL Press, 1998. One of a series of "Introductions to History" for schools or colleges, it's just 134pp. long, and covers the main outline of events about as reasonably and succinctly as I could hope for. Since it's not a Major Study by a Major Scholar (I know next to nothing about the author), it doesn't get cited much, and would probably be superfluous to anyone who's actually going to read Karnow and the other studies Gary mentions. But if you know you actually won't get around to all that, this might be something for you.

"However, when I was teaching a course on the VN war a couple of years ago I decided against assigning Karnow because it was just too long for most students to read (or, more precisely, if I assigned that I couldn't assigned the many other readings I wanted them to do.)"

I tend to be a bit self-centered insofar as I (among other ways!) tend to forget that lots of people don't like to read long books. I've always had the opposite tendency: if it was a good book, then the longer, the more of a good book I'd have to enjoy! (Caro's The Power Broker, say, one of my all-time favorite biographies, out of many I've read.)

But obviously you're entirely correct that not everyone will be interested enough to even skim through Karnow. (Evil! Evil! Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Insufficient knowledge on the horizon! Warning, warning!

Oops, sorry.)

I guess I really shouldn't tag on that, for all it's pomposity, and bombastic style, Halberstam's The Best And The Brightest still had something to offer, as well, last I looked, which admittedly is a couple of decades ago now.

And for flavor, folks really should read Michael Herr's Dispatches, and Gustav Hasford's two novellas that I've mentioned, to get a slight sense of how it could feel to some of the American grunts.

But if people want stuff that maybe goes down more easily than long (I guess that eliminates A Bright And Shining Lie, too, unfortunately, along with much else), there are always some of the excellent documentary series that have been made.

Vietnam: A TV History, for instance.

This one, entitled "Heart of Darkness: The Vietnam War Chronicles: 1945-1975" is in my Netflix queue at present. (Admittedly, my queue has 486 films at the moment, and they won't let one go over 499; at the moment, the first disk is at... 109, so it will be a while unless I move it up.)

What most concerns me, of course, is that people know enough to not fall for delusional claims like the Mel Laird piece of last year, or of the sort that Charles Bird has fallen for, and are so popular, this whole myth of how We Really Won, If Not For The Stab-In-The-Back. That's as damaging for us as the original Dolchstosslegende was for Germany.

Though there are plenty of other valuable lessons to be learned from Vietnam, of course.

Many of them start with "don't fight [because of...]" or "don't fight [when the following conditions are present]."

Vizzini famously stated one, of course.

That governments tend to lie like mad when they think they can get away with it is another useful one.

And before anyone feels a need to say it: of course many wars don't resemble Vietnam in the slightest.

Hasford's books are online at his site here, along with lots of other interesting info about the man.

You mean the huge crisis in Afghanistan, in which we may lose it, if we don't continue to increase troop strength, and resources, there, and make far more sane plans as regards trying to fight an anti-drup war that is largely in contradiction with winning hearts and minds. [Gary Farber]

Yes, I mean exactly that. When I use the words "not ideal" I usually mean "extremly far from it", FUBAR, SNAFU etc.

"Hasford's books are online at his site here, along with lots of other interesting info about the man."

Thanks for the link, LJ (again); Hasford was a little crazy, but maybe that goes along with some of the experiences he went through.

Not being able to buy "The Phantom Blooper" when I was at Avon was one of the most frustrating experiences I had there -- I thought it was that good. But we just couldn't practically publish it as a novella alone, and there wasn't any other way at the time to package it; in the end, I was ordered that we'd have to pass. Not an unusual experience, but one of those I most regretted, and obviously still remember, twenty years later.

Hasford could be startling: "War is ugly because the truth can be ugly and war is very sincere."

...given that one of Bin Laden's goals is to keep the US embroiled in a war in the greater middle east that would enflame the region and turn the people against the US...

Bin Laden's stated goal, cleek, as expressed by his number two man is to get the U.S. out of Iraq. Their current preferred means are destabilizing terrorist attacks and their participation in a propaganda war.

So we must think for a long time about our next steps and how we want to attain it, and it is my humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals:

The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq.

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

There is no doubt that this amirate will enter into a fierce struggle with the foreign infidel forces, and those supporting them among the local forces, to put it in a state of constant preoccupation with defending itself, to make it impossible for it to establish a stable state which could proclaim a caliphate, and to keep the Jihadist groups in a constant state of war, until these forces find a chance to annihilate them.

The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.

@OCSteve: If the general public comes to see [Democrats] as playing politics with this they’ll be run out of town on a rail. The WaPo absolutely spanked Murtha this weekend.

I agree with the first sentence, but the second sentence is not supporting evidence for it. The Washington Post editorial board has been wrong and dishonest about the war at every stage, and there's no reason to equate them with "the general public."

They're trying to influence the general public, sure, but as an antidote I recommend Thomas Nephew's excellent post on the dishonesty, hypocrisy, and general worthlessness of that WaPo editorial.

Bin Laden's stated goal, cleek, as expressed by his number two man is to get the U.S. out of Iraq.

i was referring to his earlier set of goals:


Bin Laden's goal in striking the American embassies and bombing the American destroyer Cole in 2000, says Wright, was to “lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan”:

“His strategy was to continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; then the mujahideen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America.” When neither the embassy bombings nor the Cole bombing was enough to “provoke a massive retaliation,” Wright suggests, bin Laden decided “he would have to create an irresistible outrage.”

That outrage, of course, was 9/11. Though American forces would not become bogged down in Afghanistan – at least not immediately in the fall of 2001 – another, longer war was on the horizon. On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of the war against Iraq; the United States is still there, fighting just the sort of asymmetrical war bin Laden so fervently desired.

also, AmCon:


The solution, further, was if possible to provoke the U.S. into actually attacking Muslim countries, using its awesome weapons against pitifully outmatched Muslim forces, destroying and humiliating them, killing and wounding civilians and destroying much property, occupying more Muslim land, and miring itself in an attempt to control what it had conquered and to impose its secular values and institutions on Arab and Muslim societies. From this would arise the chance to demonstrate that faithful Muslims under leaders and movements like bin Laden and al-Qaeda could be David to America’s Goliath. If they could not immediately slay the oppressor, they could survive its onslaught, grow and spread despite it, and gradually reduce it to a helpless giant, isolated from its former friends, trapped in an interminable occupation of hostile territory and peoples, with its armed forces stretched thin and its awesome weapons unusable, while al-Qaeda and similar groups could continue to launch even bolder attacks against it or anyone still associated with it.

or, even looking at al-Q's 2005 statements:


According to Atwan's analysis of Al-Qaeda's "20-year plan," Al-Qaeda aimed to bring about this outcome in a number of ways. The first was to provoke American troops into irrationally invading Muslim lands in pursuit of revenge; they accomplished this with 9/11. Al-Qaeda's grand strategists calculated that it would provoke the umma, the Muslim community, into joining jihad. This has already happened with the rise of Al-Qaeda's network in Iraq which, following the fall of the secular socialist Hussein regime, has become a training ground for limitless waves of foreign jihadis.

etc., yadayadayada

CB: "Bin Laden's stated goal..."

Stated goals and real goals can be two very different things. For propaganda purposes, it may well serve OBL's purpose for the US to leave. However, it is equally to his benefit for them to stay, and perhaps more so.

There is a very strong reason to believe that Bush has done everyhting he could (however, not intentionally) to further OBL's aims and little to counter them.

Going into Iraq, of course, from my POV, was one of the most egregious things he has done that helps OBL.

And there is some rationale to the arguement that leaving Iraq will actually work against OBL despite the possible propaganda victory it would give him, if only for a brief while.

If I was ever a fan of "emboldening the enemy", it was a passing phase. It's not as if they need encouragement, or extra boldness. What might be a cause for concern is if we're doing something to present them with weakness they can exploit that they wouldn't otherwise see as a weakness.

Clunky phrase. Doesn't work for me.

Surges don't, especially not given the size under discussion: we've been there and done that, and it hasn't worked yet. COIN: obviously I'm no expert, but as I understand it we aren't providing nearly enough troops for that either...

The issue isn't the surge, Hil, it's the strategy that dictates the manpower to get the job done. The Democratic Congress isn't just opposing additional troops, they're also opposing the current strategy that goes with it. They voted Petraeus into the job, but then they're thumbs down on him doing the job.

I am concerned about the numbers of troops not being enough, but I don't believe they're taking soldiers out of other locations at this time and sending them to Baghdad. Otherwise, the net manpower numbers would've been roughly the same. Last summer, Max Boot mentioned 35,000 more for Baghdad and some other report somewhere else mentioned 48,000. Those numbers would suit me better than 21,500, particularly if they're not taken out of other hot spots.

the Democrats (in my opinion) have also emboldened the enemy by saying they support the troops on one hand but opposing what they do and opposing the present strategy on the other

Allow me to pile on.

I never, ever, ever want to hear this from another conservative, republican, or whatever. Never.

Opposing the decision to invade Iraq, either on the merits or on the basis of how poorly it has been prosecuted, is not the same as not supporting the troops. Is not. Period.

I don't support the "war on drugs", but I support the police and the criminal justice system. One is policy. The other is a set of institutions, and a group of people, who are doing their best to do the right thing.

I don't support all aspects of No Child Left Behind, but I support teachers. One is policy. The other is a group of people who are doing their best to do the right thing.

Do you detect a pattern here?

Claims that folks who oppose Bush's foreign policies therefore do not support the troops are damnable lies. Period. I'm sick of hearing them.

If you want to defend the invasion of Iraq on the merits, do so. Let's leave questions of who does, and does not, "support the troops" out of it. Believe you me, that will only be to the benefit of conservative republicans.

Thanks -

Just for the record, could we maybe get a concise definition from you of exactly what you mean by "support the troops"?

Jay, I'd rather the Democrats explain directly to the Marines or Army on the ground--especially the ones who believe in their mission and the new strategy--how they can say they support them yet oppose their actions.

I thought your main criticism of the Democrats from 2001-2006 was that they were in "heavy opposition mode."

They still are, Phil.

So what was his excuse before?

Since I've been critical of Bush's substandard performance in Iraq for quite a while, I don't know what you're talking about.

Anyway, it's great to see a conservative with such undying faith in the Power Of Government to Make Things All Better.

Conservatism is about limited government, not no government, Gary. When it comes to foreign policy, there is no private sector to do the job, so government is the only place to go. Please tell me how Melvin Laird is a "right-wing ideologue".

A couple of other thoughts. I don't oppose Congressional oversight into how the administration is executing policy and spending the people's money. I wish there were more McCains in the Republican Congress to confront and challenge the administration on Iraq.

Since Charles asked...

Dear Troops on the Ground (and in the Air and at Sea):

It is with the greatest sorrow that we tell you that there's no chance at all of your overall mission succeeding. It is not possible at this time to restore the basics of civil order, let alone functioning law and democracy, to Iraq. Some of you have contributed to this unpleasant reality with your barbarous conduct, but most of you have done a very fine job under impossible circumstances. We respect the sacrifices that you've made and deeply wish that more could have come of them.

The fundamental reason your mission is doomed is that you and we alike are led by people who are neither moral nor competent, who committed all of us to an evil end and then proceeded to botch the execution of their long-held foolish, vile dream. Lately they've made a few efforts to put in place some people who are at least competent. We applaud that. But that doesn't mean we see their schemes as any more obtainable. Getting all of you to safety as promptly as we can will take some strong, effective leaders; we'd rather have them than more political toadies and fools on the spot. But we hope not to sacrifice still more of you in yet another effort to save an overall effort that cannot ever be achieved.

Yours sincerely,
The people of America opposed to the occupation of Iraq while supportive of our troops

Jay, I'd rather the Democrats explain directly to the Marines or Army on the ground--especially the ones who believe in their mission and the new strategy--how they can say they support them yet oppose their actions.

You know, this is perverse. You have completely failed to answer the question.

The appropriate rejoinder to you non-answer is, "No, sorry, I'd rather that you tell the parents and loved ones of the most recent dead GI why their son or daughter has died for the vanity and folly of GW Bush". Feel free to try to make a reply.

In the meantime, even though you've made no answer to the question originally posed to you, I'll answer yours. I'm just that kind of guy, I guess.

Short of violations of the law and the Constitution, the armed forces of this nation do not have the privilege to question the wisdom of the actions they are commanded to carry out. That's appropriate -- it would be impossible to field a fighting force otherwise.

Folks who *are not in the military* are under no such constraint. In fact, it is their obligation to speak up if they think the foreign policy of the nation is not what it should be.

I'm not a Democrat but I have a very simple statement to make to members of the armed forces, whether they personally support the "mission and strategy" or not.

I applaud their dedication to the nation, and their willingness to put themselves in harm's way for our sake. I disagree with the policies that drive our involvement in Iraq, and will do everything I can to change those policies if I can. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to make sure that members of the armed forces have every resource they need to do what they have been asked to do.

Tell me what your problem is with any of that.

Thanks -

Now I wonder, in a quiet sort of way, what Charles might wish to say to our men and women in the field about anything he's had occasion to decide wasn't such a bright idea after all. I know what regrets (and worse) I feel about the consequences of my actions and those of people I've supported and opposed - does he feel there's anything worth saying to the people fighting and dying about his own little offhand changes of heart?

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