September 1, 2007

"It takes a special kind of political and moral idiocy to choose such a moment to wax nostalgic for [Vietnam]."

Christopher Hitchens can't stand George Bush -- especially "his contented assumption that 'faith' is, in and of itself, a virtue":
This self-satisfied mentality helps explain almost everything, from the smug expression on his face to the way in which, as governor of Texas, he signed all those death warrants without losing a second's composure.

It explains the way in which he embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB goon, citing as the basis of a beautiful relationship the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix. (Has Putin been seen wearing that crucifix before or since? Did his advisers tell him that the US president was that easy a pushover?)

It also explains the unforgivable intervention that Bush made into the private life of the Schiavo family: leaving his Texas ranch to try and keep "alive" a woman whose autopsy showed that her brain had melted to below flatline a long time before.

Here is a man who believes the "jury" is still "out" on whether we evolved as a species, who regards stem cell research as something profane, who affects the odd belief that Islam is "a religion of peace."
But he still thinks Bush was right to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, he's damned sure Bush is an idiot for comparing Iraq to Vietnam.

77 comments:

Richard Fagin said...

Christopher Hitchens is openly proud of his parcitipation on what he believes was the "right" side of the culture war when it began in 1968, they year referred to specifically in his writings. Some of us believe 1968 began a descent into cultural hell from which we have only partly emerged. Notwithstanding Mr. Hitchens' support for overthrowing Saddam, on most every other issue he is at odds with a lot of us.

vet66 said...

Hitchens is out of touch with normal reality. Iraq is exactly like Viet Nam. Viet Nam was won militarily and lost because people like him pulled the funding supporting the South Vietnames government. This guaranteed the deaths of millions under the North Viet Namese/Chicoms and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Hitchens and his ilk are trying to set the stage for tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq as they abandon the Iraqi's on the altar of political power and left-wing lunacy. All under the pathology and banner of BDS.

Hitchens is consumed by his fear of the eternal void that comes with believing in nothing bigger than himself, his secularism, and his ego. If he is so sure of himself why does he abjure the spirituality that drives and motivates others who sanctify the dignity of life and make judgements on others who heartlessly destroy it?

For him, life is cheap! How sad!

Tim said...

Disappointing.

Notwithstanding Hitchens' obvious ire that Bush ignores him, Hitchens' complaint about the analogy lies in his (intentionally) misreading Bush. Bush didn't speak to the analogy between Iraq and Vietnam before the U.S. abandoned the S. Vietnamese to the Communist; he spoke to the prospective analogy between Iraq in the event the U.S. surrendered it to the terrorists and Vietnam after the U.S. abandoned S. Vietnam to the Communists.

Bush also spoke to the all to obvious analogy of the American Left, media and Democrats undermining public support for both wars to the benefit of our enemies, an important point Hitchens completely ignored.

More importantly, Hitchens knows this, making his complaint seem so Faculty Senate-like...disingenuous. He can do better than that.

Paddy O. said...

Christopher Hitchens is a man who knows how to use blogs to sell books.

It's the hack that depends on the positive accolades of paid gushers.
Hitchens stirs up a frenzy and can take even a now banal political point to get people shaking. He's a master at harnessing the power of the negative responses as well as the positive, constantly forcing himself back into blogospheric consciousness, using otherwise strong-willed citizens as his play toys, subject to his whim.

Hitchens is the master of the vortex. He is the black hole of the blogosphere, drawing even other vortexes into his control.

steve simels said...

Some of us believe 1968 began a descent into cultural hell from which we have only partly emerged.

While others of us believe you are a reactionary jackass and a prig.

So it kind of evens out.

EnigmatiCore said...

While still others don't see black and white here. Some changes since the 60s were long overdue, while others have come at an incredible cost.

Libertines and prigs. I aspire to be neither.

Gedaliya said...

I'm an admirer of Chris Hitchens, primary because of his principled support of our Iraq war policy. I'm also envious of his extraordinary literary talents, his erudition, and his pugnacious debating style.

However, I think his criticisms of Bush's Vietnam/Iraq comparisons are off-the-mark.

Bush was comparing Vietnam and Iraq in a very narrow context, i.e., the consequences of premature withdrawal. Bush said, rightly, that the result of a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would result in more, not less violence, perhaps on a Killing Fields scale; the emboldening of our mortal enemies, especially Iran and Al Qaeda; and a serious diminution of our ability to protect our national interests worldwide. All of these things happened (with different players) when Congress cut off funding for our troops in 1975 and forced our withdrawal.

So, as much as I admire Chris Hitchens, in this case he's overshot the mark.

SMGalbraith said...

It seems to me that one of Hitchen's main problems is that he see absolutism - the chief danger to those who believe in a pluralistic liberal democracy - as only coming from religious groups or movements.

Absolutism - the belief that there is only one way of living - comes in many shapes. It doesn't have to wear a clerical collar. It can march under the name of "science" or progressive secularism or "justice" or "equality" or a hundred-and-one other secular terms.

Fair liberals and fair conservatives may disagree fervently over many particular issues. But we are mostly united over our general core beliefs. That again, while their may be wrong ways of living, there is no one way of living. And that you cannot impose on others that specific way of living.

Unfortunately, Hitchens didn't see that this was what Trotsky and Ho believed in. He was so opposed to "imperialism" that he forgot to see what his side believed in.

Anything that reveals this fundamental error he has made upsets him greatly.

SMG

AlphaLiberal said...

Hitchens is always good for color commentary. Especially when he's had a few.

Viet Nam and Iraq are both different and similar. Both were started on lies (WMD and Gulf of Tonkin).

And both were prolonged by a fervent conservative belief that the war must continue unless the world agrees to our terms. (How that's democratic is hard to square.)

In both cases, conservatives zealously defend the killing of innocent civilians.

in Viet Nam cons predicted a holocaust and toppling dominoes if we left. That right wing alarmism was shown to be false by reality.

I expect the same in Iraq. When we stop occupying that country, there will still be violence (such as the ethnic cleansing happening under Bush's command), but they will be left with each other and will need to work it out.

Zeb Quinn said...

Hitchens has a bright mind and is a very good writer. On those bases alone he's always worth reading. But if there's a person of religion anywhere in the mix he goes nutsy fagin and loses it. Combine that with the fact that, bright though he may be, he's not anywhere near as bright as he himself thinks he is, and so what we end up with is a classical case of hubris on literary display. Which can be kinda fun too in it's own way too I guess.

Gedaliya said...

That right wing alarmism was shown to be false by reality.

Perhaps you need some re-education. This is from James Taranto:

According to a 2001 investigation by the Orange County Register, Hanoi's communist regime imprisoned a million Vietnamese without charge in "re-education" camps, where an estimated 165,000 perished. "Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed," the Register reported.

Laos and Cambodia also fell to communists in 1975. Time magazine reported in 1978 that some 40,000 Laotians had been imprisoned in re-education camps: "The regime's figures do not include 12,000 unfortunates who have been packed off to Phong Saly. There, no pretense at re-education is made. As one high Pathet Lao official told Australian journalist John Everingham, who himself spent eight days in a Lao prison last year, 'No one ever returns.' "

The postwar horrors of Vietnam and Laos paled next to the "killing fields" of Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge undertook an especially vicious revolution. During that regime's 3 1/2-year rule, at least a million Cambodians, and perhaps as many as two million, died from starvation, disease, overwork or murder. The Vietnamese invaders who toppled the Khmer Rouge in 1979 were liberators, albeit only by comparison.

In the aftermath of America's withdrawal from Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. According to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, between 1975 and 1995 more than 1.4 million Indochinese escaped, nearly 800,000 of them by boat. This does not include "boat people" who died at sea, 10% of the total by some estimates.


Millions of deaths. Millions imprisoned. Millions of refugees. If you can accept a similar outcome as the Iraqis "work it out" after we depart, then I suspect you have a vast moral blank spot at the core of your being.

titus17 said...

Hitchens has been a great supporter of the Iraq War and for that he deserves points but when he goes off on the president is upsetting.

Liberals hate George Bush because he is a plain speaker who is very down to earth. They fail to realize that through his simple words is a visionary that has done amazing things for this country as well as the entire world.

Current historians may say bad things about him now but many years, maybe 100 or so, after we are all dead he will be viewed as one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

SMGalbraith said...

in Viet Nam cons predicted a holocaust and toppling dominoes if we left. That right wing alarmism was shown to be false by reality.

Millions slaughtered, millions driven into exile, millions placed in concentration camps, millions forced to promise fealty to the Communist Party.

And not a single peep of protest from many progressives. Not all, but most.

The US locks up 300 terrorists and the left - both here and abroad - is enraged at such an injustice.

Yeah, that makes sense.

SMG

Bob said...

Quote from Alphaliberal:

Hitchens is always good for color commentary. Especially when he's had a few.


That's the Christopher Hitchens version of Godwin's Law: If you feel it necessary to mention his drinking, you've lost the argument, because you've descended to the ad hominem.

Hitchens reasons from the time period when Ho Chi Minh was our ally after WWII, and that we should have stayed out of Vietnam, which would have resulted in fewer deaths by far than resulted from the war and the bloodbaths after the US departure.

Hitchens's arguments are usually all over the place, but also usually well reasoned, except when his bugbear of religion shows up.

He also doesn't believe in de mortuis nil nisi bonum, which accounts for the viciousness of his obituary writings on prominent people.

Invisible Man said...

Liberals hate George Bush because he is a plain speaker who is very down to earth. They fail to realize that through his simple words is a visionary that has done amazing things for this country as well as the entire world.

Hugh Hewitt...Is that you?

P. Rich said...

Thank you, gedaliya, for the posting. That is precisely the reality Leftists ignore and deny because it is the consequence of their "principles" being put into practice. How pathetically un-realistic those so-called principles turn out to be.

richard f: Thanks for your comment - which spurred the typical mindless Lefty personal attack. Predictable, aren't they?

Richard Fagin said...

Indeed it did, p. rich. I am completely at ease with the side of the culture war I'm on, so being called a reactionary jackass has the same effect on me as being called a racist, a bigot, a misogynist and a warmonger. None. Oh, wait. I forgot the prig.

hdhouse said...

well it was pretty idiotic to make the comparison...or at the very least, pretty unfortunate at best.

VietPundit said...

Prof Althouse: I was one of those South Vietnamese boat people, and I'm quite curious about your views on the Vietnam War. How did you feel about it at the time? What were your reactions to its aftermath? Do you have any second thoughts, especially in light of your stance on Iraq today? I have a lot of respect for your thinking, and would be quite interested in a post on Vietnam, if you were inclined to do one. Thank you.
Just FYI, here is one of my posts on the subject.

Trumpit said...

I'm not going to quietly sit here and listen to that trite and bogus argument that millions were tortured and killed because we left Vietnam prematurely. We left Vietnam 10 years too late. Get that through your thick skulls once and for all.

We we're imperialist invaders and the Vietnamese were never going to quit until we were driven out of their country. The terrible death and destruction that the U.S. military inflicted on Vietnam attests to the fact that they really were the big losers in spite of the fact we finally were kicked out.

Yes, we might have defeated the North Vietnamese if we had resorted to nuclear weapons. Kill million of them, so they don't kill each other. Better they're dead than Red. Wonderful logic.

I personally believe the U.S. military should invade Brazil to save the Amazon rainforest from destruction. Will you join me in demanding that Bush order a full-scale invasion of Brazil at once. I want the slash and burning of that majestic, magnificent forest to stop at once!

SMGalbraith said...

I'm not going to quietly sit here and listen to that trite and bogus argument that millions were tortured and killed because we left Vietnam prematurely

So, you do acknowledge that millions of people in Southeast Asia were tortured, imprisoned and killed by the communists once they attained power?

One of the questions on the table is the denial by at least one poster that NO such horrors occurred.

Question: Would the communists had killed/imprisoned/tortured millions of people had we not left?

Did the communists have moral agency or not?

SMG

Gahrie said...

We we're imperialist invaders and the Vietnamese were never going to quit until we were driven out of their country

Which Vietnamese? The South Vietnamese who asked us to be there and help defend their country? Or the North Vietnamese who were fighting a war of aggression funded by the Soviet Union?

Trumpit said...

Gahrie,

Clearly you have a North-South fetish, so I suggest you fly back and forth between the North and South poles (before they've melted away) until your fetish is satisfied. I also suggest you take a trip to Vietnam, both the North and the South, and try to reconcile yourself to the fact that it's their country and not ours. Then, you can go back to hoeing the weeds in your garden and stop refighing old wars that should never have been.

UWS guy said...

Last I checked the "South Vietnamese" did not "invite" us to protect them.

Vietnam was a colonial war already lost by the French, last I checked neither the Soviet Union nor China used Vietnam as a client state after we pulled out.

Vietnam was a mistake. Iraq is not.

Gahrie said...

UWS Guy: You're simply wrong. At every step of the way the legally elected government of South Vietnam asked us for help in defending them from acts of agrression from the Communist imposed government of North Vietnam.

American involvement in South Vietnam had nothing to do with the former French involvement in Indochina, and everything with protecting the people of South Vietnam.

Vietnam was certainly used as a client state by the USSR. Not only did the USSR occupy the naval base at Camh Ranh Bay, but they used the Vietnamese as surrogate troops in Laos and Cambodia.

Gahrie said...

trumpit:

I don't have a "North-South" fetish...I have a "Freedom V Oppression" fetish.

The South Vietnamese sure thought there was a distinction between North and South Vietnam though. They fought for years to defend themselves from Northern Vietnamese aggression before we agreed to help them, and tried to fight it even after a Democratic US Congress sold them out. Then millions more South Vietnamese voted with their feet by fleeing from the North Vietnamese by any means possible...hundreds of thousands dying in the process.

I wonder..do you see any difference in North and South Korea....a very apt comparison to North and South Vietnam. (except we didn't sell the South Koreans out)

vet66 said...

UWS Guy and Trumpit;

I suggest you ask the Montangards and the South Vietanmese how they felt about the Chinese and the North Viet Namese guerillas that were attacking our ally in the South.

The USS Maddox was attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964, taking a deck gun shell from a Russian made, VC operated, fast boat that fired a deck gun lodging a shell in Maddox's superstructure. Whatever happened on August 4, 1964, in the fog-of-war, is immaterial and self-serving to the revisionist lefties.

Ho Chi Minh was taking a run at the U.S. which was operating in international waters gathering intel on the VC/Chinese/Russians. It would not be a stretch to believe that Ho Chi Minh was emboldened by the protests that were going on in the U.S. at the time and was using the attack for propaganda purposes. Reference Berekley, California unrest and Southern Illinois/Carbondale activism during the lead-up to the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Ho Chi Minh was playing the lefties for "useful idiots" right from the playbook of Lenin. The blood of millions is on the hands of reality challenged lefties.

titus17 said...

I think the one thing, we as republicans, can all agree about here, is that George Bush is a great president.

The president made the right decision to equate Vietnam and Iraq. Earlier during the war he said he was no comparison but he has examined it closer and analyzed things and concluded their is a relationship.

The thing is we will be and need to be in Iraq for a very long time. It will be hard at times and we will need to make sacrafices but in the end it will be worth it. Liberals hate to hear this but it is a fact of life.

Cedarford said...

Fagin - Christopher Hitchens is openly proud of his parcitipation on what he believes was the "right" side of the culture war when it began in 1968, they year referred to specifically in his writings. Some of us believe 1968 began a descent into cultural hell from which we have only partly emerged. Notwithstanding Mr. Hitchens' support for overthrowing Saddam, on most every other issue he is at odds with a lot of us.

Fagin's opening remarks are dead on. Remember Hitchens was a Red who still defends much of his radical writings and postures, accurately, as being like his idol George Orwell in seeing a great menace on the horizon (radical Islam) that requires abandoning certain Leftist Dogma. But not all of it. He will no more say words of admiration for Thatcher or Kissinger as he would for "Satan's nun, Mother Theresa - that is, if Satan exists, which he does not..."

Hitchens is an acquired taste, but his writings on the Palestinians especially his essay "Broadcast" are superb. Some prominent Catholic literary figures, who do support Theresa for Sainthood, admit Hitchens was a masterful Devil's Advocate. And I love his lip-curling snotty Brit distain for the Cult of Lady Diana and all the poofters and rubes and "sofa ladies" behind it.

SMG - Unfortunately, Hitchens didn't see that this was what Trotsky and Ho believed in. He was so opposed to "imperialism" that he forgot to see what his side believed in.

Actually, Hitchens did see this was what Trotsky believed in, at least, because he was a Trotskyite back in '68.

Vietpundit - You introduce yourself as a former boat person. I would be far more interested on what you think about us leaving Vietnam, Iraq analogies and what you think of other posters views than - in host Anne Althouse's views. Insightful and erudite though they may be....

ricpic said...

And what does Hitchens believe? That the alpha and omega of existence, the meaning of life, is to be found in the never ending struggle for power between competing factions: the very thing our founding fathers warned against and did their level best to neutralize in the constitution of the republic they bequeathed to us: which, ala Hitchens, we have not kept.

Chip Ahoy said...

Completely faithless people are the most presumptive of all. I dare say Bush's opinion of Hitchens is more generous. I'll still read Hitchens because so far he's still brilliant, but he's starting to sound like a fellow who's hung around the bar a bit too long.

Bush always so eloquent compared the catastrophe of leaving V.N., not the war with V.N. Big difference. And now know Hitchens doesn't like the way Bush looks. And people of faith are stupid. Got it. What else have you got?

SMGalbraith said...

Actually, Hitchens did see this was what Trotsky believed in, at least, because he was a Trotskyite back in '68.

I don't think so, I think it's his chief intellectual failure. From all that I've read from him, he's never acknowledged it.

I believe that he doesn't see that the real enemy of liberal democracy - or pluralism, of an independent civil society, of free association, et cetera - is absolutism.

And that that absolutism can be clothed in secular garb as much as religious ones.

Everything he says he is opposed to today in the Islamists - their opposition to free inquiry, their demand of total allegiance to the state - were and are things that communists also demand. The fact that they use secular language often seduces people (like CH).

He didn't see this back in '68. Because the US was wrong in intervening didn't mean that the North Vietnamese were right. The communists used the rallying cry of nationalism and anti-imperialism to fool the people into supporting their cause.

So, instead of freeing the people from western occupation they installed a new master every bit as foreign. Down went the statues of foreigners like Degaulle and up with the statues of Marx and Lenin. Hah, some nationalists.

It's ironic isn't it? That the Left today is much like Hitchens was in 1968. They are opposed so much to Bush and the neocons and Republicans, that they ignore (for the most part) the dangers of radical Islam.

Because, for them, Bush et al are the greater illiberal threat. Not the Islamists.

Hitchens made this error too. For him, the great evil was western imperialism and not the secular absolutism of the communists.

SMG

UWS guy said...

Which of our founding fathers cared who the leaders of foreign lands were?

What was the national interest in Vietnam?

I hear Robert Mugabe is a Marxist, why don't we spend 50,000 American lives to make them capitalists?

Oh that's right...no compelling state interest; just like Vietnam.

Cedarford said...

Alpha Liberal - in Viet Nam cons predicted a holocaust and toppling dominoes if we left. That right wing alarmism was shown to be false by reality.

Which puts you in the realm of a Holocaust-denier.

And not alone, amazingly enough. Amazing how the Jewish-Gentile Left that dominates so much of the media and intelligensia will give tremendous slack for apologists for Communist democides but will jump on any defender of Fascist mass-murder.

For a long time, Lefties could use that tactic of blanket denial of any nefarious communist actions, sweep all the memoirs, reports to the contrary under the rug - aided by media owners and intelligensia complicity.
Even try and construct a Vietnam postwar metanarrative that rehabilitated the Communists as the freedom seekers, absolved the Democrats of any blame for the consequences of betraying the S Vietnamese.
Those days have pretty much ended with the end of Lefty control of su much of the information sources people had.
Now people can know. They can talk to S Vietnamese, Cambodian refugees about what actually happened. How they think of the Chomskys, Seymour Hershes, Hollywood types...

Hear how the struggle to prevent the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Burma from falling as well, was won.
What dominos fell in Africa and Latin America before the Reagan rollback of Soviet-Cuban adventurism.

SMGalbraith said...

What was the national interest in Vietnam?

I hear Robert Mugabe is a Marxist, why don't we spend 50,000 American lives to make them capitalists?


In case you missed it, the Soviet Union fell in 1989.

Next question?

SMG

UWS guy said...

If we re-invaded Vietnam tomorrow and the day after that the Russians and the Chinese began funding the Vietnamese...

Would the actions taken the day after the day we invaded (by Russia/China) "grandfather" in a reason to have invaded in the first place?

Don't throw a "liberal defense of communism" charge my way either:

1) I'm too young
2) not a leftist.

Vietnam was dumb, just because the Vietnamese treated their own badly after the war, doesn't mean that starting that war was the right thing to do.

Invisible Man said...

Cedarford,

If you call the aftermath of Vietnam, where 1 million people died a holocaust, then what do you call the situation where 1.7 million died while we were there? You seem to selectively grieve those 1 million civilians, while I guess considering the 1.7 million civilians who died ok, because we were still giving it a go? To me, if preventing people from dying is your goal, then perhaps a scenario where you stop somewhere in the middle of those 1.7 million losing there lives might be more beneficial.

This fight makes no logical sense. Say we stayed in Vietnam longer. Don't you think that some not insignificant part of that 1 million who died afterwards would die as we continued to fight for 3-5 more years. This silly right-wing analysis misses two major points. 1. There still was no guarantee that we would have won. and 2. If we stayed more people would have kept dying.

dick said...

UWS Guy,

Someday you should really read about how we got involved in Vietnam in the first place. It was during the Eisenhower administration and we went there to rescue the French who were trapped at Dien Bien Phu. Eisenhower then lent the South Vietnamese government 1500 troops as advisers only. The troops were not to fight, just advise, and the South Vietnamese army was to do the fighting. This worked well until JFK got in office and decided to up the ante. He loaded up the troops and ramped up the fighting with the US troops first fighting alongside the South Vietnamese and then leading the South Vietnamese. After the assassination of President Diem of South Vietnam, pushed for by the US journalists like David Halberstam and by the CIA, JFK and then LBJ really sent the US troops into action to the point that the South Vietnamese were fighting for the US rather than the other way around.

At some point, not sure from memory if it was during the close of the LBJ admin or the beginning of the Nixon admin, the US went back to supporting the South Vietnamese while they did almost all the fighting and they were winning. We pulled almost all our troops out and left some air support for the South Vietnamese and they were still winning or at least holding their own. Then the democratic congress and senate pulled the funding and the air support and the North Vietnamese overran the South with assistance of the USSR and China. The result of that was Cambodia, boat people, re-education camps, gulags, etc from which only now are the Vietnamese resurfacing.

Now follow the arc of support, running the fight, assisting the fight, supporting the local troops and police. Much the same scenario. Now pull the support at the behest of the democratically controlled congress and senate. Again the same scenario. What makes you think the results would be any different, especially with a nation right next door salivating at getting even for the war in the 1980's and also getting an escape hatch from being trapped between two US client states.

That is really what the argument is about. That the LLL dems try to hide what they are doing behind the MSM stories about Bush lied, the war is lost, it is a civil war, etc tells you all you need to know about how desperate they are to rerun the scenario of 1975.

Gedaliya said...

Vietnam was dumb, just because the Vietnamese treated their own badly after the war, doesn't mean that starting that war was the right thing to do.

George Bush didn't discuss whether or not "starting" the Vietnam war was the "right thing to do." What he said in his speech was that our abrupt departure from Vietnam in 1975 resulted in a human catastrophe of historic proportions, and that if we leave Iraq in a similar fashion, we'll experience a similar result.

This is yet another instance that confirms Santayana's dictum that those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it, a lesson seemingly impenetrable to some who regularly comment on this blog.

UWS guy said...

Thanks for the primer (honest, not being sarcastic).

Some people here need to wrap their heads around the fact that some people can be PRO Iraq war and ANTI Vietnam war. Which I am and as Christopher Hitchens himself states.

The problem with making facile comparisons is that they break down under the most minute scrutiny.

Cleansing? Re-education? Right now part of what we are backing are Maliki's Dowa party which is a front for Shi'ite death squads.

How does that fit into a Vietnam analogy? Or Kennedy's mendacity in allowing the assassination of the South's leader?

People who make Vietnam analogies probably have a knowledge of history that only goes back as far as Vietnam (same with WWII).

It applies to Bush and to Michael Moore.

Gedaliya said...

Some people here need to wrap their heads around the fact that some people can be PRO Iraq war and ANTI Vietnam war. Which I am and as Christopher Hitchens himself states.

Do you agree or disagree with the president that our abrupt departure from Iraq will result in a catastrophe similar to that which resulted from our abrupt departure from South Vietnam in 1975?

Eli Blake said...

Let me point out another analogy which George Bush isn't making, for obvious reasons.

During the Vietnam war, we were given a doomsday scenario called the 'domino theory,' in which if we left Vietnam, then one Asian country would fall to communism, then another then another like a chain of dominos.

Guess what? it didn't happen. After Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (countries where the war had already expanded into) did indeed fall, but then it stopped cold at Thailand. Thailand, which had resisted colonial domination and maintained autonomy during the colonial period (hence did not have an anti-western attitude) was busy developing a booming capitalist economy, and the Thai people had no interest in communism. On top of that, they had the obvious testament to communism of refugee camps full of Cambodian refugees all over eastern Thailand. So there is a story (anecdotal to be sure) that a Vietnamese official sent a team of recruiters across the border from Laos into remote Thai villages with the goal of recruiting some disaffected villagers who could be trained and indoctrinated to form the core of a guerilla army, and after searching long and hard they came back with three teenagers.

How does this relate to Iraq? Simple. By invading Iraq, we've succeeded in radicalizing a lot of Iraqis who are only too happy to attack Americans. But the idea that Iraq will become a breeding ground for terrorists is just plain wrong-- Iraqis have seen what al-Qaeda is all about firsthand, and even their former allies are turning on them. In fact, the continued presence of U.S. troops is about the only thing that really helps al-Qaeda in the middle east, because it plays into their rhetoric about Americans wanting to occupy muslim lands. But if we leave the doomsday scenarios about how Islamic terrorism will take root in Iraq and then grow to cover the whole middle east are as far fetched as the 'domino theory' was back a few decades ago.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Hitchens is consumed by his fear of the eternal void that comes with believing in nothing bigger than himself, his secularism, and his ego.

You've got to admit that he has a point as regards that last item.

SMGalbraith said...

Do you agree or disagree with the president that our abrupt departure from Iraq

Exactly. We can't simply pickup and walk away from this conflict.

Some people (located everywhere on the political spectrum) believe that there isn't a problem in the world that can't be solved - or at least mitigated - by simply having the US leave or not be involved.

Leave Iraq. Stop supporting Israel. Get out of South Korea. Fortress America.

Somehow, those problems will just disappear, or greatly diminish, if we leave.

SMG

UWS guy said...

We were deliberately targeting civilians during Vietnam (napalm/agent orange), so we saved North Vietnamese civilian lives by pulling out.

We are not targeting Iraqi civilians, so a pull out of Iraq would be WORSE not analogous to Vietnam.

The analogy gets the players wrong as well as getting the scope of it's importance incorrect.

Iraq is more important than Vietnam and our pullout would be catastrophically worse and our mission there is 1000x more humane.

why? why? do you want to sully our effort now by making pitiful comparisons to a war in which we did not fight honorably nor have a national interest?

The better analogy is this:

America = Vietnam
Jihadist in Iraq = Khmer Rouge

that, is a better analogy. We're fighting for Iraqi communists and sucularists, not the other way around.

Gedaliya said...

After Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

This is laughable. To make your argument you casually brush aside the single fact that disproves your entire thesis. Because we lost in Vietnam, millions were brought under the communist boot heel, millions were slaughtered, millions were imprisoned, and millions were sent into exile, tens of thousands of whom went to the bottom of the sea.

Because the dominoes stopped at Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, it doesn't mean the dominoes didn't fall.

UWS guy said...

wish I could edit.

America = Vietnamese
AQIR = Khmer Rouge.

We're fighting for Iraqi communists and secularists not against them.

Cedarford said...

Invisible Man - If you call the aftermath of Vietnam, where 1 million people died a holocaust, then what do you call the situation where 1.7 million died while we were there? You seem to selectively grieve those 1 million civilians, while I guess considering the 1.7 million civilians who died ok, because we were still giving it a go?

The 1.7 million were 1.4 million VC and NVA soldiers plus ARVN, and 485,000 civilians. Of which 200,000 were butchered by communists, 285,000 by US and ARVN forces.
And your "holocaust" numbers are off. It was 1.8 to 2 million in Cambodia, plus over 200,000 Laotians, and estimates ranging from 65,000 to 165,000 S Vietnamese executed or starved to death in re-education camps.

Over two million. And no one argues that if US Democrats hadn't backstabbed Cambodia and S Vietnam that the death toll would have been close. Add in the 5-6 million killed in Latin America, Africa, and Afghanistan with post-Vietnam Cuban-Soviet Communist adventurism in 18-20 different nations besides Vietnam and you confront the full extent of the bloodbath American Democrat's cut and run from Vietnam caused. And why they have been saddled for 30 years with such distrust on security matters.

To me, if preventing people from dying is your goal, then perhaps a scenario where you stop somewhere in the middle of those 1.7 million losing there lives might be more beneficial.

That brings up the old, tired WWII metaphoric comparisons again. If we had "sensibly" capitulated to the Nazis to Save Lives!!! the 35 million deathtoll in the European theater could have been lowered considerably. To maybe only 8 million or so, even less if the Nazis had been able to realize their plan to cleanse Jews, Gypsies out of Europe to Madagascar or America..

So, were the Allies wrong to fight? And over in the Pacific, acceptance of the Jap militarist's Co=Prospertity Sphere might have spared 15 million at the cost of 900 million living under Japanese tyranny.

This fight makes no logical sense.

Lefties and Democrats are ill-equipped to argue about war because they almost universally think that wars arise only from "misunderstandings" that could always be solved with "more talk". They fail to realize that many aggressors know exactly what they are doing and don't want to talk, but to kill enough to get what they want.

Say we stayed in Vietnam longer. Don't you think that some not insignificant part of that 1 million who died afterwards would die as we continued to fight for 3-5 more years.

No. Communist memoirs show that the Vietnamese generals and Commie leadership were about spent and only kept in the game by the Jewish-Gentile Left of the US, the Democrats. The 68, 72, and 73 NVA offenses were absolute slaughters for the NVA (and I don't equate enemy soldiers lives as of the same imperative to preserve as "our guy's" lives in war, contrary to many Lefty thinkers ideas on war.)

This silly right-wing analysis misses two major points. 1. There still was no guarantee that we would have won. and 2. If we stayed more people would have kept dying.

No, actually you illustrate the real silliness, intellectual frivolity, and lack of seriousness that Lefties - who shun military service, are ignorant of warfare -always make.

1. No war is fought with a guarantee of results or freedom from unexpected consequences. No war has a guarantee of "X casualties" or expiration date based on victory. Lefties somehow believe war follows campus timetables, with the date of Finals known and success based only on what the students do and wise men and women in robes making the final mark.

2. The argument that if people fight, they only guarantee more death is made in complete Lefty obviousness to the consequences of defeat from a craven cut and run. Defeat in war in real life is not some kiddie game where a kid who is winded chooses to quit, shakes his opponent's hand graciously and goes away to no consequences.
Defeat in war can mean death, your side consigned to living a grim, miserable life for many lifetimes under a tyrant if you are lucky enough to live.

Anthony said...

Anyone care to comment on this part of what Hitchens said:

It explains the way in which he embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin, ex-KGB goon, citing as the basis of a beautiful relationship the fact that Putin was wearing a crucifix. (Has Putin been seen wearing that crucifix before or since? Did his advisers tell him that the US president was that easy a pushover?)

Gedaliya said...

Jewish-Gentile Left of the US

Huh?

This single phrase puts you square into kookdom, friend, and makes it exceedingly difficult for anyone with sense to take you seriously.

Gedaliya said...

Anyone care to comment on this part of what Hitchens said...

Sure. It was a silly remark and I think the president erred in making it.

SMGalbraith said...

Would Hitchens have been supportive of the intervention and the entire "war on terror" had the adversary (broadly speaking) been a secular extremist group or groups?

It's difficult to make an analogy since the enemy is, for the most part, thoroughly religious. My guess is that there are former Baathist elements that are less devout. After all, Saddam feigned religious observance. But setting that smaller group aside, the larger threat come from the Qutbist elements.

Imagine, if possible, a secular al-Qaeda and secular Islamist movements in the Middle East. Oxymoronic, okay.

My guess is that he wouldn't be so vocal in opposing this irreligious extremists.

SMG

Gedaliya said...

My guess is that he wouldn't be so vocal in opposing this irreligious extremists.

Hitchens' years-long and very vocal support of the Kurds in their struggle for freedom, especially against the fascist Saddamist tyranny, is well-documented and in the public domain. There were no religious overtones to Saddam's ruthless campaign of mass murder against the Kurds. This fact lends weight to the likelihood that your guess is off the mark.

Cedarford said...

Gedaliya in denial - Jewish-Gentile Left of the US

Huh?

This single phrase puts you square into kookdom, friend, and makes it exceedingly difficult for anyone with sense to take you seriously.


A common tactic. Issue denial, claim it is so obvious that any critic must be "crazy" to dispute it.
Those days, just like the days when Stalin's mass deaths were denied in the NYTimes as "kook rumors" that no serious person should take seriously, have pretty much ended.

Anyone looking at the history of the Vietnam anti-War movement can judge for themselves who in the media and the intelligensia that had a major impact was Jewish or Gentile. By my reading, it was about 50-50.

Others would put Jewish impact higher - especially the anti-war media - citing Jewish ownership back then of a strong majority of major newspapers, magazines, Hollywood and TV production studios,radio chains, and ownership of the 3 major networks.

It was in an era when the Left was "resurging" from the "Communist witch-hunt persecutions", and for every prominent voice raised against the War in the intelligensia and activist leader ranks, about half were Jewish. For every Hayden or Harrington, there was a Marcuse or Mailer. For every MLK, a Stanley Levinson behind them.
For every "pro-war" Jew like Kissinger, there were 5 Daniel Ellsbergs.
And as part of that resurgence, "getting" Nixon for his awful attacks on Hiss and the innocent Rosenbergs was as big as letting "the freedom fighters of N Vietnam prevail".

Anyone who reads the history would see the dominance Jewish Leftists still had of various Fronts like the ACLU, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild and Jews still constituted half of the American Communist Party's membership and 4 out of 5 of it's leadership. 5 of the Chicago 7 were Jewish.

Jews in Congress were big fans of the "reasonable accomodation with the Soviets" ranks and had turned early against the war, becoming prominent in the Congressional demands to abandon S Vietnam.

Gedaliya, that was the history. Own it.

vet66 said...

Bush was either toying with POOTIE Putin presciently or looking for the best in our old enemy. Either way, Putin is on the move again in an attempt to build up Russia's image as a player on the world stage.

He wants to rebuild his military, he wants to become a leader in commercial (military) airplane products to rival Boeing and Airbus, he wants to increase funding for space exploration, and Russian "Bears" are flying down the old cold-war routes testing alertness.

What if the game of dominoes was on pause and is about to start again with an influx of oil money to the Russian petrol industry?

Cedarford understands the game as do a few others here. The rest are oblivious to realpolitik and how patient our enemies are. That may be the West's fatal weakness!

SMGalbraith said...

Hitchens' years-long and very vocal support of the Kurds in their struggle for freedom, especially against the fascist Saddamist tyranny

It's been more than a years-long support; more like decades. I recall reading his columns in The Nation in the early 1980s on the Kurdish cause.

But it seems to me that much of it emanates from his view that the Kurds had been used by western powers (dare I mention, Dr. K?) as part of their great power political manipulation of the Middle East.

Some of Said's influence in CH's view of the Kurds.

Perhaps not.

I still stand by the proposition that almost all - no, all - of his support for the war on terror comes from his extremely hostile and often irrational hatred of all things religious.

And that if one could imagine (somehow) a secular Islamist movement taking place, that his hostility would be much, much less severe.

(I'm agnostic as to his views on pan-Arabic nationalism.)

SMG

rcocean said...

So we're back to fighting Vietnam, eh?

I'm as anti-communist as the come, but Vietnam was the "wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time".

The NVA leadership were communists, they were willing do what ever it took and lose as many man as they had to to win.

Our only hope of winning the war was to invade NV with a SV army. Which we were unwilling to do. Hell, Nixon/LBJ wouldn't even mine Haipong harbor until 1972! Since we refused to invade them, the war was never going to stop until we gave up, because the NVA leadership was never going to give up.

Further, the Vietnam had absolutely nothing to do with US security. Vietnam fell, and what happened, did dominoes fall? No. I'm sorry the Reds took over SE Asia and killed people, but they took over Russia and China and nobody stopped them.

The USA isn't the Fairy God mother to the world. It would have been better if we had left Vietnam in 1965.

You don't send men to die because you're worried "our allies won't trust our word". Our "allies" need us more than we need them. And they will act in their self-interest regardless.

Kirk said...

Alpha,

Wow, I hardly know where to begin.

I guess, for starters, you aren't going to convince anyone with that "lies about WMD" crap, because too many of us have read Bush's actual words, in the SOTU addresses and elsewhere, that clearly reveal that lots more than Sadaam's pursuit of NBC weapons was at issue.

Next, you really think that JFK and LBJ were right-wing conservatives??? I was going to offer the snarky advice that they have medications to help your condition, but in actual fact they really don't.

Gedaliya said...

Cederford...

You were mentioning something about the Jewish-Gentile leftists.

I seem to have missed the "Gentile" part in your last post.

Perhaps it was an oversight.

Internet Ronin said...

Vet66 wrote:

Hitchens and his ilk are trying to set the stage for tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq as they abandon the Iraqi's on the altar of political power and left-wing lunacy. All under the pathology and banner of BDS.

Hitchens is setting the stage to abandon Iraq? Hitchens is a leading proponent of the war in Iraq and has been since the beginning.

hdhouse said...

well now. after reading that wonderful set of posts...we should publish it as "little minds guide to history as we hope it"....i'm reminded of one of my professor's more telling comments to a student who clearly didn't belong..."those with no grasp of history are doomed to re-tell it".

next time a few of you scream about soviet revisionism, take a look at what you write.

rcocean said...

"those with no grasp of history are doomed to re-tell it".

He must have been talking about Stanley Weintraub.

Revenant said...

Further, the Vietnam had absolutely nothing to do with US security. Vietnam fell, and what happened, did dominoes fall?

Well, yes, the dominoes did fall -- Cambodia and Laos, for example, and I'd argue Nicaragua as well.

But you're right that that ultimately didn't have much of an impact on US security.

The Exalted said...

always a good time when vietnam comes up.

the wingers seem to believe that a few million dollars in 1975 would miraculously do what billions of dollars and a standing force of at least 500,000+ of the best trained and armed troops in the world could not. if you truly believe this, you should be kept far, far, far from any levers of responsibility.

the military concluded as early as 1965 that we couldn't win vietnam. at that point, our losses were a small fraction of the 58,000 they would become. wouldn't have been nice for those 48,000+ americans, and their families, if we had left then? if you can't win, all you are doing is wasting men, money and opportunity. i wish kerry had the sense or courage to give this answer when bush issued his moronic challenge at the debate, "how do you tell the last soldier you died for a mistake"...

(and, to forestall the idiocy of our resident anti-semite, all casualties in WWII were "worth it" because a nazi victory directly imperiled the united states and western civilization as a whole. contrary to the strange fantasies of some, there is no danger of sharia law being imposed here or elsewhere as a consequence of anything that occurs in iraq)

as to the parade of horrors post our withdrawal, well, of course. inside vietnam, it was a civil war. of course there was going to be terrible retribution. i visited vietnam last year and my stomach turned when i read communist propaganda about former "south vietnam saboteurs" used as "human minesweepers." but that was going to happen regardless of when we left, sorry.

as to cambodia, our firebombing of that country had a good deal to do with that nation's destabilization and subsequent vulnerability to a disgusting group of criminals called the khmer rouge (just as WWI left russia susceptible to the coup of the bolsheviks). so it could certainly be argued that "year zero" might not have happened had our involvement in vietnam never occurred or at least terminated far earlier. in other words, it was not our withdrawal but our engagement that had some measure of responsibility for the killing fields. further, for those who argue that our withdrawal from vietnam "caused" the cambodian genoicide -- are you contending that we should have occupied cambodia?

pick up a copy of the economist this week, you can read that 4 million people died in a war between uganda and the congo in the late 90's. did you know this? do you care? i seriously doubt it. does it have any impact on our national interest? no. should american troops and treasure have been spent in a probably futile attempt to ameliorate that situation? i'm sure your answer is no.

(not to mention, "saving" the south east asian peoples was not the reason we fought. rather, the reason was to prevent some catastrophic doomsday scenario of communism flooding out of vietnam like some inkblot over asia, and our allies "losing their ability to trust our word" blah blah. unsurprisingly, similar rhetoric is used to defend our involvement in iraq. "saving" strangers is the kind of humanitarian intervention concept left to the realm of leftist fantasies until it becomes convenient to justify winger belligerence -- see bush's anti "nation building" campaigning in 2000)

to echo a poster above, the united states is not the world's policeman. would our national interests be served if all countries were stable and their peoples comfortably well fed capitalists? of course. we would also be better off if we all had magical fairy ponies in our backyards. needless to say, neither are attainable.

Gedaliya said...

i wish kerry had the sense or courage to give this answer when bush issued his moronic challenge at the debate, "how do you tell the last soldier you died for a mistake"...

Um...you're a bit confused here. The "How do you tell the last soldier..." remark was Kerry's, made decades ago during his anti-war testimony to a congressional committee. Given this fact, I wonder if you still believe the remark is "moronic."

but that was going to happen regardless of when we left, sorry.

Sorry, but if we had won that war the mass deaths and imprisonments would not have happened. That's the entire point of Bush's remarks (the remarks that Hitchens criticized)...the remarks we're debating...remember?

to echo a poster above, the united states is not the world's policeman...

Considering that the US has the world's only global navy, a $13 trillion economy, the most powerful military on the planet, and thousands of deliverable nuclear devices deployed on land, sea and air, one can make a strong case that the US is, in fact, the world's only policeman.

Perhaps this makes you feel uncomfortable in an intellectual sense, and to quote Seinfeld, "there's nothing wrong with that." But in reality, I suspect you feel safe indeed that the US enjoys such military and economic hegemony, and would feel far more insecure if it did not.

vet66 said...

Ronin;

With friends like Ronin on the side of the war in Iraq, you don't need enemies. He is a lefty who is not suffering from BDS.

From Reagen to Bush he is nothing more than a yapping dog biting at the ankles of realpolitik.

The Exalted said...

perhaps if you had watched the debates, you would realize that bush threw this comment back at kerry and reduced kerry to a quivering mess unable to respond.

as to your open yearning to be the world's policeman, you can do that on your own dime, not mine.

The Exalted said...

and as to "winning vietnam," our military concluded we could not win. you know what that means bud? anything spent towards that effort after such a conclusion was waste, folly, criminal.

Gedaliya said...

and as to "winning vietnam," our military concluded we could not win. you know what that means bud?

You've stated this contention more than once to bolster your argument. I've been around a few years and I don't recall "our military" ever stating that we "could not win" in Vietnam.

It would be helpful if you could provide a few sources that would define who, exactly, came to this conclusion and when they came to this conclusion.

vet66 said...

He can't! We won the war militarily but lost it politically when the democrats cut off funding to our ally, Cronkite declared it lost, and Kerry did the Winter Soldier sell-out.

SMGalbraith said...

our military concluded we could not win.

I too am puzzled as to where you've read this or what your source is.

From my readings of the war, the North Vietnamese (and Soviets) knew they couldn't win militarily on the battlefied so their tactic was to weaken the resolve of the US and force a withdrawal.

IOW, demoralize the American people.

As the saying goes, armies don't fight wars, nations fight wars.

And the American people eventually wearied of the war and decided to leave.

SMG

Revenant said...

You've stated this contention more than once to bolster your argument. I've been around a few years and I don't recall "our military" ever stating that we "could not win" in Vietnam.

It is a particularly strange claim to make in light of the fact that we did, in fact, defeat the Vietcong (who were basically destroyed by 1970) and were pretty much mopping the floor with the NVA.

The Exalted said...

read mcnamara's memoirs

dick said...

Why would you believe McNamara? He, like Bill Moyers, has a very selective memory.

Fen said...

Alpha Lib: Both were started on lies (WMD and Gulf of Tonkin).

Thats a lie. There was no WMD "lie".

Revenant said...

read mcnamara's memoirs

Would you accept Donald Rumsfeld's memoirs at face value, too?

The two men have many things in common, the chief one being that the wars they managed both started going better for America after they left office.

The Exalted said...

um

its very credible -- admission against interest in legal parlance

if rumsfeld said that the military told him iraq was a fools' errand and he blundered in anyway? of course i would believe that, why would he make that up

i know, i know, too logical for this bunch