September 26, 2005

"Lessons from the Past."

In the email just now:

2005 Kastenmeier Lecture
and the
Wisconsin Union Directorate Distinguished Lecture Series


The Iraq War: Lessons from the Past
Senator George McGovern

7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 14, 2005

UW Memorial Union

Union Theater
800 Langdon Street
Madison, Wisconsin


HaloJonesFan said...

Heh, heh, heh. I'm fairly sure that George McGovern has some lessons from the past. Unfortunately, those lessons are "don't let the other side hang a slogan like Acid-Amnesty-Abortion on your campaign" and "try to keep the wackos off the TV screen".

Jacques Cuze said...

Ooh! Swiftboat, swiftboat! Me first!

George McGovern only entered WWII as a pilot and flew Liberators just so he could run for President!!!!

Now your turn Ann!

XWL said...

Why do I get the feeling that this lecture will descend into yet another boomer self-love nostalgia fest.

(which, by the way, was one of the main reasons for Sen. Kerry's primary victory and general election defeat, his wallowing in boomerish onanism. On the national level the Democrats have become the party of looking back, the Republicans are looking forward, and the American people are always more inclined to choose leadership that leads us forward, regardless of the specific policies)

(oh, that is bound to be irresistible troll bait)

Jacques Cuze said...

A debate between scientists and religious conservatives has escalated after the US President, George Bush, said the theory of intelligent design should be taught with evolution in public schools.

... the party of "looking forward"

Eddie said...

Let the trolling begin...

miklos rosza said...

McGovern should be asked if he still thinks it was right (or moral) for Congress to cut off all funding for the South Vietnamese Army while the North Vietnamese were heavily supported by both the Soviets and the Chinese. He should be asked if he is proud of what happpened in Vietnam after April 30, 1975.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BoneUSA said...

Forget the political debates. I just got this invite the other day that out-absurds anything McGovern can say:

The Columbia Club of New York

cordially invites you to attend
a luncheon
featuring remarks and a book signing

Professor Richard N. Gardner
"Winning the Cold War: Jimmy Carter's Forgotten Role"

XWL said...

If what Prof. Gardner has to say is that through Pres. Carter's gross incompetence he allowed Pres. Reagan's election far sooner than anyone thought a Republican could regain the White House after Watergate then I would have to agree that Pres. Carter played a VITAL role in ending the Cold War.

Otherwise, Prof. Gardner is a blowhard idiot who refuses to recognize simple facts

(any bets on which?)

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BoneUSA said...

To add to the comedy, here's a quote from Carter that's included in the invite (probably a bookjacket blurb also:

"Richard Gardner's book about his time as Ambassador to Italy during my
Administration is a dramatic, accurate account of one of the most difficult
and successful diplomatic missions of the Cold War."
-- former US President Jimmy Carter

What's next? From the cover of the Bible:
"This is a good book."
-- God

vnjagvet said...

George McGovern is a wonderful and a decent human being. He was a true war hero as a very young man. He also represented his state well as a Senator.

I just happen to strongly disagree with his views on Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The two judgments are not mutually exclusive.

IMO, heroes should always be praised for their heroism, but not necessarily for their judgment.

Brendan said...

Hmm. I wonder which "conflict" he thinks it compares to.

Elizabeth said...


That was a decent, intelligent comment. Thanks for injecting a reasonable tone to this discussion.

Eli Blake said...

George McGovern ran trying to beat Nixon and force him out of the White House. The main and overriding issue in his platform was that the US should get out of Vietnam. About the only real issues he had besides that were to support legalized abortion and definitively end segregation. He also supported more government spending on entitlement programs.

By 1973, an agreement was reached to get the US out of Vietnam. We were completely out by 1975. Abortion was legalized that same year. In 1974, Nixon left the White House, a beaten man. Institutional racism was ended everywhere by the late 1970's. And even more money was added to support entitlement programs than McGovern had proposed.

The truth is, things actually turned out pretty much the same as if McGovern had won.

Troy said...

That's odd I got an e-mail for this lecture series:

The War on Terror: Lessons From the Past by Neville Chamberlain

Current Issues in Rodent Control: Lessons from the Past with special emphasis Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Jimmy Carter

An encore lecture: The Seven Habits of Effective Leaders by James Buchanan

Sloanasaurus said...

"...Hmm. I wonder which "conflict" he thinks it compares to...."

Yes I am wondering about that too?

Sloanasaurus said...

There actually are some serious lessons that were learned in Vietnam now being applied in Iraq. For example, in Vietnam the U.S. did not engage in a counter-insurgency strategy from 1965-68 (i.e. policing areas with Vietnamese allies). Instead Gen. Westmoreland chose an attrition strategy. By 1968, we had acheived nothing with the general population, who still remained skeptical, even after the viet cong was crushed during Tet. Many in the military saw this failure as the chief failure in Vietnam. In Iraq, however, local policing and counter insurgency was done from the beginning. The results have been better than imaginable with over 8 million participating in elections and a never ending willingness by locals to join the army and police.

Of course Vietnam had its other differences, most notably support from other superpowers. For example, more than 350,000 soldiers from China spent time in Vietnam fighting americans and building roads and railways. The Communists also fielded more than 10,000 anti aircraft units and flew thousands of Migs during the war (many by Soviet pilots). They managed to shoot down 3500+ U.S. aircraft. I'm not sure how many anti-aircraft batteries Zarquawi has at the moment....

Vietnam and Iraq are similar in that they were legally authorized by Congress.

Wars that were illegal include the Korean War and the Kosovo war. neither were authorized by Congress.

miklos rosza said...

So much easy emotionalism is invoked by "Vietnam" that the real history of what happened is seldom examined. It was not examined at the time, either, but intentionally obscured.

Sloanasaurus, thanks.

It's funny how seldom the Vietnamese are consulted about their past. Their memories are inconvenient. It's highly racist. If they don't fit into the desired narrative, they are expunged and ignored.

If you are interested in knowing history from the perspective of someone who was once a student in Hanoi of General Giap, and who was a member of the Vietminh, read Bui Diem's memoir "In the Jaws of History." It's a start.

Sloanasaurus said...

I agree, the more time passes, the more realistic perception we will have of the Vietnam war. There are so many myths and lies that need to be dispelled about the war, myths that seem second nature in the American psyche today.

It is unfortunate for the Vietnamese people that Vietnam became a battle ground of the cold war, a war where the Communists were on the offensive and liberal democracy on the defensive. We fought in Vietnam because the Soviets and Chinese chose to fight there instead of Western Europe or the Middle East.

Semanticleo said...

Sloanasaurus et al;

Tell us all what happened in Viet Nam in 1975 that was different from what would have happened there and in the rest of that region if US had gotten out of Viet Nam in 1965 instead?

I mean, other than 50,000 fewer american dead, that is.

whit said...

It seems that efforts are being made to connect Iraq with Vietnam, 2005 and 1965. The anti-war movement, (whatever it is) and the left (whoever they are) need desparately to convince the American public that the evil George W. Bush has really and truly led the United States down the road to ruin.

Terms like "fomenting" and "outside agitators" come to mind. Memories of impossible promises of revolution against the establishment; Rioting in the streets. Let's not go down that road anymore, my friends.

Goesh said...

- hopefully Fritz Mondale will be seated in the front row - and in Viet Nam the peasants still fall like flies from common diseases - they can't get enough Coca-Cola and Marlboro cigarettes and the last I heard about the Nike factory there was it paid workers .38 a day. There's Uncle Ho's legacy for ya' - Iraq is being pacified in the same manner as we speak.

michael a litscher said...

I propose an alternate title:

"The Vietnam War: Living in the Past
by Senator George McGovern"

I'm getting real tired of miopic old lefties comparing every conflict we're in to Vietnam. As I told one old leftie, Vietnam was the exception, not the rule.

Ann Althouse said...

The first time I voted in a presidential election, it was for George McGovern.

I think what's most significant in the posted announcement is that the lecture committee selected him at this time. He hasn't pushed himself forward in the public debate about Iraq, but the committee quite clearly expects him to.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...Tell us all what happened in Viet Nam in 1975 that was different from what would have happened there and in the rest of that region if US had gotten out of Viet Nam in 1965 instead?..."

That is a good question. I would guess that we would have fought the same war in perhaps Thailand or Indonesia, or the Middle East or Africa. The USSR and China poured resources into Vietnam. They would have poured the same resources into spreading "revolution" somewhere else.

Art said...

Sippican Cottage wrote:..

""Winning the Cold War: Jimmy Carter's Forgotten Role"

He must be referring to Carter telling us all to wear sweaters instead of heating our homes."

Attn: Sippican Cottage:
You obviously didn't get the message from party headquarters that President Bush favors conservation of energy. President Bush has always favored conservation of energy.

Your comments are thus in violation of long standing party doctrine. Your case will be taken up at the next meeting.

knoxgirl said...

Ugh no more Viet Nam.

BoneUSA said...

Ann -
Don't know if he's spoken out more recently, but McGovern hasn't exactly been silent. This is from The Nation, April 2003:

"The invasion of Iraq and other costly wars now being planned in secret are fattening the ever-growing military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned in his great farewell address. War profits are booming, as is the case in all wars. While young Americans die, profits go up. But our economy is not booming, and our stock market is not booming. Our wages and incomes are not booming. While waging a war against Iraq, the Bush Administration is waging another war against the well-being of America."

Surely we can expect this kind of stuff in his lecture at UW.

Anonymous said...

Tell us all what happened in Viet Nam in 1975 that was different from what would have happened there and in the rest of that region if US had gotten out of Viet Nam in 1965 instead?

OK, I was in Vietnam in April of 1975 with the Foreign Service. We had a good treaty that was not enforced. The troops left Vietnam in 1971-72. They were not going to return. The South Vietnamese had won over the Viet Cong 1972 offensive and could do it again with US air support. But Watergate and McGovern and others turned off all economic support. The government in the south failed. Our good treaty was gone.