Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Iraq is Vietnam lite

Being popular and right does not win wars. Wars are fought to enforce the rule of the victor on the conquered.

Today there is significant opposition to the rule of the communists in Vietnam. At the time of the Vietnam War, there may have been large pockets of resentment in N. Vietnam (people who are sacrificing millions of their children to feed the ambitions of a dictator may have welcomed a change in leadership). In S. Vietnam there certainly was a lot of distrust of Ho Chi Minh, especially after the Hue massacres.

However all resentment in N. Vietnam was made null and void, because the America high command (Presidents plural) chose not to let S. Vietnam liberate this resentment. N. Vietnam never had enough men and material to enforce its will on S. Vietnam whilst the Americans were there. S. Vietnam was never allowed to attempt to impose its will on N. Vietnam whilst the Americans were there. When eventually the Americans left and the real war started, S. Vietnam had been so degraded and fought over and depleted that it lost the War with the North.

Similar applies in Iraq their is a will for democracy and capitalism throughout the Artab world, Iraq is an Arab and partially Sunni country. Sunni Arab fundamentalists who form the basis of the insurgency in Iraq view it as part of their greater caliphate. America constraints its conduct so that it does not upset certain of its Sunni Arab allies in prosecuting the war against the fundamentalists. It is from these same Sunni Arab countries that men and material flow, the flow is small and will not defeat Iraq whilst America stays, but when America leaves (next Democrat President or even next Republican President) it will fall upon Iraq to defend itself at the same time as fending off an internal Sunni vs. Shia vs. Kurd vs. Turkman civil war. This is a legacy America does not need to leave to the Iraqis as it within America’s power to stop this flow, but that will mean threatening longtime allies.

In Vietnam the commander of American focres had good reason (not wanting Soviet involvement and possible WW3 is a good enough reason) not to let the S. Vietnamese prosecute the war past the 17th parallel. In Iraq there is no good reason not to threaten longtime allies enough that they will stop the flow of support to the fundamentalists.


At 5/8/05 1:15 PM , Blogger Warren said...

I get to do the very first comment! Yea!

UC, You have a better grasp of Vietnam than some of the people that fought in it!

(At least I'll assume you didn't). I know there were kiwis that did.

I have a historical perspective of the war, from my point of view, on my blog.

If we (the Americans) had been able to supply and proved air support, things would have been a lot different.

I actually believe that the Iraqis Can manage on their own providing they have enough time to stabilize their government and if (big if) they have the will. That doesn't mean that they will be able to do without an American presence for a long time. There are actually a lot of good things going on in Iraq right now that the main stream media never talks about.

Welcome to the wonderful world of blog ownership. If I can help you with questions about using blogger let me know.

At 5/8/05 2:07 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...


Where in your archives is the piece on Vietnam?

At 5/8/05 4:19 PM , Blogger Warren said...

Its a long post and owing to the complexity, much was left out. But I belive its a good overview even if all of the players weren't mentioned.

At 5/8/05 4:44 PM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm glad that I came back here! Here's what I tried to leave before:

I visited over at Mr. Beamish's and found that you've started your own blog. Congratulations!

Dr. Walid Phares and Mahdi Obeidi, among others, agree that there is a desire for democracy and freedom throughout the Arab world. Obeidi, whom I heard speak in my area last March, pointed out that establishing democracy in the Middle East is a big threat to the regimes in charge. He was primarily referring to Saudi Arabia, which helped him to acquire nuclear centrifuges for Saddam.

The big question, of course, is this: Is Islam, as a political system, compatible with democracy? Islam appears to go well beyond the concept of personal faith.

The problem with Islamism--or one problem, anyway--is the desire to establish a worldwide caliphate. In fact, all sects of Islam seem to harbor this desire, but the jihadists have a particularly violent way of going about reaching the goal.

BTW, I fully agree with your opening paragraph and your concluding statement. Well said!

PS: Warren beat me to posting the first comment here. Too bad! That's what I get for fooling around all day with the WMAL/CAIR story.

At 5/8/05 5:55 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...

Warren - that is a good article on Vietnam.

If America had provided air support and assistance to a SVN push into NVN then it would have been a winnable war. But asking the Vietnamese people to stand firm in the face of agression without striking back? Asking the American people to supply troops to fight and be killed forever?

At 5/8/05 8:19 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...

Always on Watch,

Democracy is an ideal that could be used to internalise debate and moderate change in the ME. There are doubts it can hold, but it might so it is worthwhile trying. Plus even just trying will bring political change and that may not be bad.

At 6/8/05 12:41 AM , Anonymous John said...

I'd suggest that rather than overly paying attention to other Sunni entities--states or organizations--the US gov't is very sensitive to global opinion.

The US has constantly stated that this is not a war against Islam. That the only targets at present are Sunni Muslims make it easy to deduce--wrongly--that this is a war against Sunni Islam, which the majority of Muslims around the world follow. In trying to be as tightly targeted as possible, the gov't does provide some evidence for those who wish to make the argument that it's a war against Islam. Were it involved in indiscriminate killing, that allegation could go away, but the price isn't acceptable.

At 6/8/05 1:19 AM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

I agree with your comment: "There are doubts [democracy] can hold, but it might so it is worthwhile trying."

The alternative is very ugly, but we need to have a Plan B, a Plan C, etc.

At 6/8/05 1:26 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...

This is Plan A - America (under Bush) has declared that this is not a war against Islam, if they achieve victory - by tackling the fighters & terrorists alone and asking nicely that allies reform to democratic government - they will be proved correct. It will be merely a war on terrorism.

However if America is not winning the war, Plan A is wrong. Even if Bush stays the course the next President will have to choose another strategy - Plan B, Plan C...

I think the Bush strategy of imposing democracy on the Middle East is a good one. It stands a chance of working and may even have a positive outcome for the nations involved.

Any Plan B is unlikely to be supportive of democracy, because democracy will be associated with Bush's losing Plan A.

Possible Plan B - Saddam, Assad, Musharaff, the Algerians have all proved themselves to be quite effective at controlling terrorist groups within their territories - if hardline secular military dictatorships were installed across the Middle East maybe they could control all terrorism. Some indiscriminant killing would be involved, but it would not be Americans doing the killing so it should be acceptable to world opinion.

At 7/8/05 7:53 AM , Anonymous Divine Mercy said...

There you go UC-- let the dictators take the blame.

Great opening on your profile. Isn't it great how we have Vietnam to always fall back on for "what didn't work" analogies?

Speaking of uh ohs, the tribute to the Hiroshima survivors is always a small wake up to what mortals can do.

Back to Sun Tzu 101.

At 8/8/05 3:12 PM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

In case you are interested...

You can enable Blogger to notify you by email if a comment has been posted anywhere on your blog. Go into Blogger, click on Comments, and scroll to the bottom of that screen. Then, save changes and republish entire blog.

Sometimes, someone sneaks a post to one of my early blogs, but email notification lets me know.

Pardon my intrusion if you already knew the above.

At 8/8/05 9:12 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...


Thank you very much. That is good advice, but I only have freeserver gmail and hotmail e-mail - no personal account - and a work e-mail. Can't really use the work e-mail.


At 9/8/05 2:56 AM , Blogger Always On Watch said...

I thought that might be the case (I would never use a work email!), but I wanted to let you know. I'm not an experienced blogger, but I do know a FEW things. I learned them all the hard way.

Your Monday, August 8 article is not enabled for comments. Of course, perhaps you want it that way.

BTW, your Monday posting is excellent!

At 9/8/05 9:31 AM , Blogger unaha-closp said...


At 16/8/05 3:44 PM , Anonymous B.Poster said...

The problem with supporting secular dictatorships is it seems they eventually turn against you or they team up with the Jihadists against you. The US once offered support to Saddam Hussein for precisely the reason that he was supposed to be a bulwhark against Iran who was a greater threat at the time. Later his regime and Al Qaeda agreed not to attack one another and they agreed to work together on weapons development. Saddam Hussein provided safe harbor and salaries to Al Qaeda members within his country. It is debateable just how strong the ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq were but there seems to be no question that they existed. Commentators, such as Daniel Pipes, have suggested supporting a democraticly minded strong man. Perhaps the policy could work, if it were adjusted a bit to avoid the prior pit falls.

At 22/8/05 11:19 PM , Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I think the Vietnam War analogy to the Iraq War is tired and the epitome of uselessness. The only similarity between the two is that drug-addled leftists protested both.

You need to go back 100 years or so, to the Phillipines war, to find similarities to what's going on in Iraq.

At 23/8/05 12:52 PM , Blogger unaha-closp said...

There was no one infiltrating the Philipines to the best of my knowledge. It was merely a task of subduing the natives.

People with weapons are infiltrating Iraq.


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