Why compare Iraq to WW-II?
Why not compare Iraq to Viet Nam?
If it's "appeasement" to pull out of Iraq, how was it not appeasement to pull out of Viet Nam?
And if you argue that we can NEVER pull out of Iraq because to do so would be appeasement -- doesn't that sound awfully similar to Johnson's "I'm not going to be the first President to lose a war!"?
The point being, Iraq IS a quagmire. That can be admitted now, surely. Iraq is on its way to becoming a civil war -- the Suni's against the Shiites, with the Kurds standing in the wings. And we're backing "South Viet Nam" -- the party in power, the ineffective military -- against the forces of "North Viet Nam" -- the Shiite insurgents.
I think Viet Nam analogies will be much more helpful in this situation than WW-II analogies. I mean, the triumphant riding in to France to the cheers of the villagers was ALSO a WW-II analogy, that didn't happen. Don't these Bushistas ever learn?
Johnson kept using WW-II analogies in Viet Nam, too, as did Nixon. That didn't help the situation there, and ultimately we DID pull out.
September 4th, 2006 11:08am
Oops -- That's "Suni Insurgents", I believe.
September 4th, 2006 11:08am
I think I agree with Paul Graham on this one.
According to him, if you diff Vietnam and Iraq, one of the key issues is the draft.
No draft means for the most part, middle class sons and daughters are not being sent to die in Iraq.
September 4th, 2006 11:14am
Yet there was also a draft for WW-II.
Sure, the "no draft" issue keeps resistance to the Iraqi war from rising as quickly and dramatically as resistance to the Vietnamese war. But that's simply because of indifference in the 18 to 24 year old vote.
My point being though -- "because we don't have a draft" is not a good reason to compare Iraq to WW-II, instead of comparing it to Viet-Nam.
September 4th, 2006 11:17am
It's more like Vietnam perhaps. But the differences are fairly significant too. Bad peace activists, like bad generals, tend to fight the last war.
It's pretty obvious why Bush et al, want to compare Iraq to WWII and why anti-Bush folks want to compare it to Vietnam.
September 4th, 2006 11:31am
You can't really compare Iraq to WWII.
Actually, you cannot compare them at all.
There are way too many differences.
First off, WWII was a direct response, at least for the US, to a strike by Japan on Pearl Harbour.
Second, there was no pussy footing about what the aim of the war was. The aim was not to have regime change in Japan, or Germany. It was about annihilating the enemy.
Never mind having a beach invasion to win the hearts and minds of the Japanese people to overthrow the Emperor ... Just drop a couple of nukes.
It was also a war of the old school. As it stands, Britain is technically not at war, because the head of state (the Queen) did not declare war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
The argument for war in Iraq was that the Iraqis did not want Saddam at the helm. The number of attacks on the US/UK since then suggest that enough people like the US/UK led invasion even less.
It would be interesting to compare the death toll in the pre and post US-invasion Iraq.
September 4th, 2006 11:41am
The reason you aren't allowed (by the wingnuts) to compare Iraq to Vietnam is that the wingnuts blame the failure in Vietnam on liberals. And the main claim is that WW2 was a "moral" war, fighting "evil" while carefully forgetting that we allied ourselves with Communism to defeat that "evil." Additionally, the wingnuts want to forget that in the case of Vietnam, the US was the source of evil, while pretending that we would have won the war if it weren't for the decadent war protesters who caused us to lose the war because they destroyed the morale of the troops. That's why they go postal with their "if you protest the war, you're sabotaging our troops" meme, with those retarded yellow ribbons to show your loyalty to that meme.
September 4th, 2006 11:45am
>It would be interesting to compare the death toll in the
>pre and post US-invasion Iraq.
Post is way more. By any measure.
September 4th, 2006 11:50am
Hey look it's no facts Colm!
September 4th, 2006 11:54am
Oh, I don't know. I think he's got LOTS of 'facts'. Unfortunately, no references for them so they can be checked.
September 4th, 2006 11:55am
September 4th, 2006 11:55am
why does he add stuff like "By any measure." as if to imply he had looked at reported deaths and mortality survey data to arrive at his conclusion.
He should write something like
"I feel confident it went up. But I'm just making that up."
September 4th, 2006 11:57am
Depends on the measure. Especially if pre-war deaths attributed to lack of medicine/food distribution are included (which Saddam definitely had power to change, but didn't).
Here's one anti-war journalist's attempt to answer this gruesome question objectively ...
"With Shia death squads torturing and executing Sunnis, Sunni insurgents killing Shia, criminal gangs running rampant and a vicious civil war raging, people frequently ask me: Are things worse for Iraqis now than they were under the man who now stands in the dock?
I don't know the answer to that question. But the very fact that it can legitimately be asked is horrifying. For Saddam's Iraq deserved the name given it by the exiled writer Kanan Makiya: "Republic of Fear." I began to learn why soon after I arrived in the country in April 2003.
September 4th, 2006 11:59am
"Depends on the measure. "
September 4th, 2006 12:05pm
"is that the wingnuts blame the failure in Vietnam on liberals."
Maybe the wingnuts do. However, the failure in Vietnam *was* due to the failure of leadership on two fronts:
1) Unnecessarily restricting the rules of engagement (well, Bush & Co don't have *that* problem!)
2) Not defining the goals of comabt - Have a specific, measurable goal that can be met by force. (Bush & Co score full marks here)
Remember that in Vietnam the military won every battle they engaged in; however, due to the restrictions on the rules of engagement they could not do what was necessary to follow through and define boundaries and borders.
Now it's possible that if properly run, Vietnam would've become an example of why guerilla combat against an invisible enemy was a no-win proposition. But the mismanagement by LBJ and McNamara prevented us from really finding out.
Circling back, while it was a "liberal" administration that hamstrung the military, I believe most people blame the specific administration involved, not "liberals"
September 4th, 2006 1:17pm
Having said all that, I agree that Iraq is most comparable to Vietnam. A better comparison would be the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
And having a measured withdrawal while handing over the nation to its leadership is not "appeasement" - it's endgame as planned. *Very* easy to spin it that way.
If I were President, I would define a withdrawal date (in about a year) and loudly suggest to the UN that if they're concerned about civil war or genocide, they should put peacekeepers in. But we're leaving whether they are there or not.
September 4th, 2006 1:19pm
What is the aim of the war in Iraq?
So you condone going in, causing a right mess, and then blackmailing the UN into trying to clean things up?
Is this the same UN that said that invading Iraq in the first place was A Very Bad Idea (tm)?
September 4th, 2006 1:26pm
Sorry - my bad.
When I said "Bush & Co score full marks here" I meant because they don't have a plan either. Poor wording on my part. :)
I thought Iraq was a mistake before they started, and it's a complete mess now.
September 4th, 2006 1:28pm
So, what is the way forward for Iraq?
How long before the US/UK throw in the towel?
And speaking of Afghanistan, when will the west realise that they cannot win a war over there?
I would not want to fight a war against a peoples whose sole occupation for the last couple of hundred years seems to have been fighting off foreign aggressors and growing opium.
September 4th, 2006 1:32pm
Looking at it from the insurgents' point of view, any declaration of unconditional withdrawl in the near future (ie, the US will withdraw on Oct 2007, no matter what) is synonymous with victory. The insurgents can even go on sabbatical for a year - their jobs are guaranteed to still be there when they come back.
As suggested, one of the best other options for the Americans is shifting the burden of responsibilty to someone else. They'd prefer to shift it onto a strong Iraqi government. But that being absent, the UN may have to do - not that they would accept this responsibility.
I think another serious option must be to consider splitting the country into thirds. Because then, any Sunni contra Shia, or Sunni contra Kurd violence becomes an international conflict (just by defintion) and allows. It's not a perfect option for the Americans as it means ceding control over the oil-rich Basra region to Iranian influence and it means pissing off the Turks (or letting them undertake anti-Kurdish ops with impunity).
September 4th, 2006 1:36pm
"I think another serious option must be to consider splitting the country into thirds"
You mean give the country squiggly lines? :)
Is this doable? Are there discrete geographic territories occupied by each group? Also, how are the non-oil groups going to feel about being given a piece of sand?
(I don't know the answers - just asking the questions)
September 4th, 2006 1:41pm
The problem with the US, it that it sees countries as single nations.
Actually, I think it is the reason for a lot of the mess in the world today.
Continents were carved up (Ottoman Empire anyone), and countries were created that lumped up Nations that had been fighting for generations.
All good when there is a common enemy (colonialists), but sh*t hits the fan pretty quickly when the colonialists ship out, and a power vaccuum is created.
Imagine the case in the US if the Red Indians had managed to drive out the settlers.
Looking at that as an example almost suggests that the only way to succeed in buiding a unified nation requires exterminating or breeding out the current locals.
September 4th, 2006 1:47pm
Well, the Sunnis fucked up owning the oil for the last 50 years, so "No oil for you!!!!"
Which is nice as it sorta corresponds to their territory (yes, I know, Kirkurk and Baghdad are a mess).
Frankly they should feel blessed not to have oil on their property. The resource curse has fucked everyone else. A Sunni economy that's diversified like Turkey's or Egypt's would be a good thing.
September 4th, 2006 2:55pm
>How long before the US/UK throw in the towel?
The UK is already starting to draw down troops. The evacuation of Amara was a mess:
>However, the failure in Vietnam *was* due to the failure of leadership on two fronts...
The Vietnamese people had been fighting a war of national liberation for decades before the US got involved. First, they had been trying to throw out the French invaders; then during WW2, the Japanese invaders; then the French invaders - part deux; and after we booted the French, the Vietnamese were trying to throw out the US invaders. That's why the war was unwinnable from the West's point of view. We didn't care about what the Vietnamese wanted, because someone used the "terrorist" word of the 50s/60s/70s/80s which was "communist." All rational thought went out the window when the T-word gets used today, just as when the C-word was used in decades gone by. If we were willing to recognize that they wanted to govern themselves, and assist them to accomplish that, then we could have *won*. Instead, WhiteManBurden says that we know more than our little brown brothers what they really neeed.
>A better comparison would be the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
We funded what became the Taleban and OBL during that war. The folks in power, along with the wingnuts, recognize that, which leads to their insistance that *some* outside agency is funding this batch of guerillas/insurgent/freedom fighters. They go postal when you remind them that their very own incompetance at invading Iraq led to 250,000 tons of munitions being looted from know ammo dumps while they were unguarded during the first 2 weeks of the occupation. At current rates, that much weaponry will supply about 200 years of insurgency. Couldn't those neocons have payed attention to Red Dawn when they watched it?
>Are there discrete geographic territories occupied by each group?
Yes. Pretty much.
>Also, how is the non-oil group going to feel about being given a piece of sand?
That will be the Sunni. They can suck up to Saudi Arabia for funding if they want.
The Kurds have pretty much moved into Kirkuk and booted out the Sunnis. The Shiites control Basra which has 1) oil and 2) the only port for Iraq. However, allowing the Kurds to get a separate nation will lead to invasion of it by a joint Turkey-Iran military venture. Those 2 countries already have enough problems, especially with the US funding PKK (they're supposed to harass Iran, but they've been uppity and blowing shit up in Turkey instead). Turkey told the US that they were going to use the Israeli excuse for invading Lebanon to invade Northern Iraq, and we told them to shut the fuck up and get to the back of the bus.
Even if you could magically make the sunni and shiite sit down and be friendly towards each other, the kurdish situation will inevitably lead to the next conflict in the region. Even if you'd like the Kurds to have their own homeland (like I do), you'd recognize that such an event would mean the destruction of several other countries. To do so would require the US invading Turkey and basically shooting every last one of our NATO allies in that country.
This whole pissing match called the Middle East came about due to the break up of the Ottoman Empire as war reparations at the end of The Last War To End All Wars, aka World War 1. The second world war, and the cold war both grew from the ashes of WW1. And neiter the palestine/israel pissing match, nor the iran/iraq/kuwait shit would have happened if it weren't for the break up of the Ottoman Empire.
September 4th, 2006 4:13pm
Very cool stuff, Peter, thanks.
BTW - on this:
"If we were willing to recognize that they wanted to govern themselves, and assist them to accomplish that,"
We did have a program to do this ("Vietnamisation"). While I'm sure there may have been some political pointlessness behind it at the top, from the middle on down the commands truly believed in what they were doing - teaching the Vietnamese to take care of themselves (farming, infrastructure, defense...)
My dad got a Bronze Star for his work on Vietnamisation initiatives.
September 4th, 2006 4:21pm
"Teaching" was a bit condescending. Think "aiding" or "helping"
September 4th, 2006 4:22pm
Just who would we appease by leaving Iraq? I see the occupation as an attempt to prevent an Iraqi breakup as described above followed by Turkey and Iran solving the Kurd problem in their own favour to share the oil and water resources. As Iran is best positioned to control all the oil and Turkey all the water the outcome would be either very messy or reasonably amicable (ignoring the Kurds, who would be dispossessed) while China vetos Security Council opposition to woo Iran. Turkey joins the EU with their new-found wealth and the Arabs get their pick of the leftovers. So I don't see a Western pullout until more serious issues impinge in a couple of decades.
September 4th, 2006 9:22pm
"Just who would we appease by leaving Iraq?"
Tangential people in Western Europe and the US who write opinion columns, blogs, etc.
September 4th, 2006 10:00pm
Well, we would quit spending 300 Billion dollars a year to maintain the war in Iraq. That might appease a few conservative economists -- you know, the ones who think you should pay as you go?
September 4th, 2006 10:05pm
Since when did conservative economists have any influence on anybody other than other conservative economists?
September 4th, 2006 10:38pm
Well, since "Supply Side Economics" apparently CAME from a conservative economist, I think it affects all of us pretty far.
September 5th, 2006 9:42am