40 Years Ago Today: History Repeats Itself

11Jan07

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

The similarities between LBJ’s speech 40 years ago and Bush’s new Iraq “strategy” are eerie:

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war–a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time…In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

Read more here!

Another alarming factoid:

Only 7,917 American troop had died in Vietnam through the end of 1966, or ten days before Johnson’s speech. From the beginning of 1967 though the end of the war, an addition 50,285 — more than six times as many — Americans would lose their lives.

One can only assume that with Bush’s level of competance being significantly lower than LBJ’s and with the overall volatility of the region being significantly higher even than in Vietnam, we could only expect the way forward to be similarly catastrophic.

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6 Responses to “40 Years Ago Today: History Repeats Itself”

  1. Making the bogus comparison between Vietnam and Iraq only prolongs any substantive discussion of any consequence. There was no Iranian (nuclear) threat adjacent to Vietnam. There was no worldwide jihad against the west and there weren’t
    hundreds of millions of neighbors of Nam awakening to “Death to America” chants daily after each and every prayer session. There weren’t clerics, government officials and terrorist groups in neighboring countries calling for the destruction of America and the little satan, Israel.

    There was no oil either. A loss in Nam meant only some degree of ego and pride reduction, not the melee that will ensue when the troops are withdrawn, not to mention the bloodbath.

    The greatest fear of Iraqi neighbors is the rise of a nuclear Iran to dominate the region. This will happen if not stopped.

    Although it’s true the Sunni/Shia divide will never be overcome, leaving Iraq now will only require our return, at even greater cost, to straighten out the mess.

    Life is long. This mess will be over some day. I would ask that you consider the long range effects on your kids and grandkids and work to help solve this situation rather than seek obtuse examples to demean your nations decisions and it’s troops.

    Have a nice day

  2. 2 clairblog

    Thanks for commenting. Some responses to your response:

    1. Can you point out anywhere where my post requests pulling all of the troops out of Iraq? If you read any of Bush’s speech or saw any headline today, you know that he’s advocating an increase in troops. Thus the comparison to Vietnam. If we maintain troop levels with a phased withdrawal that gives control to the Iraqi government, then we

    2. There was a world-wide movement against the west at the time of Vietnam. It was called “Communism.” In fact, it was more dangerous, had expanded to more countries, and actually could be associated with nations operating under specific form of government. By the way, I have news for you: There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq before we got there. If they have generated there because we are present there, then logically it makes sense for us to leave eventually.

    3. What does oil have to do with your argument? The oil has always been there. Need I remind you that there wasn’t a chaos happening before we invaded? How does oil = trouble if we gradually hand over control to Iraq? Should Iraq decide what to do with Iraq’s oil?

    4. How does a politically weakened Iraq that is dependent on US troops make Iran less powerful? How does our troop presence in Iraq relate? You seem confused by your own argument.

    5. This was not our nation’s decision to add more troops. This was George W. Bush’s solitary decision without regard to the overwhelming public opinion against the war, the Congressional body, and our nation’s well-being. His decision is little more than a band-aid that will help shift the burden of solving his own problem to the next elected President.

    6. What I find demeaning is that you’d be willing to settle for a half-baked plan that will only escalate an already huge problem. Don’t you think our nation deserves better? I think that the United States, the greatest nation in the country, should be open to correcting its mistakes with a real plan. A real plan can only be through real discourse, an open mind, and a sense of history.

  3. It’s a given that this war has lost public support far and wide.
    There was no oil in Nam, an important point considering our dependence on the stuff.
    Eliminating a dictatorship, especially in a culture that has known no other form of government, must lead to a struggle for control from within.
    Nation’s dont make decisions, elected officials do, in this case, the President.
    It’s hardly demeaning to support the elected leaders choices. Vote in someone whose decisions you agree with next time.
    This latest action is an attempt to correct past mistakes, for better or worse.
    Leaving eventually isn’t an option. We will leave, and soon if things don’t improve.
    Allowing one last push to gain order is the only option now.
    Our enemies would percieve any other action as weakness and would escalate their goal of funding and creating the death and destruction that has lead to the loss of commitment of the American people.
    What your “real plan” would be puzzles me.
    I dont like this mess anymore than you do.
    Fixing this disaster deserves one more chance.

    Thanks for pressing me to sort out my thoughts on the matter.

  4. 4 clairblog

    Interesting that you bring up our dependency on oil. I thought Mr. President said it was a war about freedom and Democracy. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s about the oil (obviously it is). The Iraq War has cost the United States taxpayers as much as the cost of gas for every person in the country for one year. That, of course, doesn’t account for the fact that a mobilized military force of our size running generators, flying jets, running aircraft carriers, etc, only increase our dependency on fossil fuels. Imagine if we had just put the same amount of time, energy, and money into curing us of this dependency. We’d be in a much different position right now. But, I think you and I would agree that removing that dependency would effectively remove money, power, and most threats that come with instability in that region.

    If you’re familiar with the Constitution, you’d know that the President is not the only elected official running the country. In our most recent election, it’s no secret that the Iraq War is what turned out the voters, and they voted new leaders to make to represent them and lead us out of this mess. The President’s new “plan” doesn’t address a change in course, pays no attention to underlying political and sociological reasons for the unrest in Iraq, and blankly defies the approach the the Congressional majority is asking for. My only hope is that Congress will use their power to block this increase in troops and demand an alternative plan.

    Here’s a nice summary from Center for American Progress as to how extensive Bush is ignoring the voices of reason around him:

    IGNORING THE PUBLIC, MILITARY, AND EXPERTS: It is clear that Bush did not listen to the American public when figuring out the way forward in Iraq. A recent CBS poll found that just 18 percent of the American public supports an escalation of involvement in Iraq. He also didn’t heed the advice of his military commanders. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were unanimously opposed to the escalation. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who publicly declared in December that he does not support escalation, “is caustic in private about the proposed ‘surge,’” columnist Robert Novak reported. Military commanders also told the President that they had just 9,000 soldiers and Marines available to go to Iraq. Bush also ignored advice from America’s “allies abroad.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair made clear that he will not send more U.K. troops to Iraq, but will instead “stick to its own strategy of gradually handing over to the Iraqi army.” The ISG also did not recommend an escalation in troops in its recent report, and group member Leon Panetta told Newsweek that increasing troops will send the “wrong message to the Iraqis.”

    IGNORING CONGRESS: The President also claimed that his decision came after he “consulted members of Congress from both parties.” But according to a tally by The Progress Report, many more lawmakers oppose the escalation than support it.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote Bush a letter telling him that escalation “is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake.” Even traditional Bush administration ally Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) — who is currently in Baghdad — yesterday said that he does “not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer.”

    The most important point I want to make: A new plan is necessary. The plan Bush proposed is not even close to being new. It’s just a re-packaged version of the old plan, and more of a political decision than a military plan.

    A real plan for winning Iraq would require addressing the reasons for the unrest in the region, combining diplomacy with our military support to help build stability in the region, building an environment that effectively removes the possibility of any single ethnic group (Sunni, Shiite, Kurd) from having an advantage in political power, and ultimately putting the Iraqi people in a position where they will be taking their own security into their own hands.

  5. hey

    Seems as though were talking past one another, so in the interest of time saving, let’s part friends. Thanks for all your deeply thought out comments even though I honestly disagree with most, but not all.

    Sincerely, Hank

  6. 6 clairblog

    We should revisit this discussion in a year or two to see how it all turns out. I appreciate your comments. As you can see, this blog doesn’t exactly get a lot of activity.


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