It's merely hype: Iraq is not Vietnam, and history is not repeating itself

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Despite what many people may think, the American people have not turned against the Iraq war. Nor is Iraq another Vietnam. Americans, though, are angry that the United States is not winning. All of these facts are very important in determining what policy the United States should pursue.

Even though parts of the war in Iraq resemble Vietnam, history is not repeating itself. There is no anti-war movement in the United States. You do not see huge protest rallies on college campuses from one end of the country to the other.


The 2004 presidential election and 2006 mid-term election were no litmus tests on the war either. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts did not run against the war two years ago. He voted in support the conflict and was not ready to flip-flop on such a basic issue. He tried to take advantage of sentiment on the war. The problem was that activist elements in the Democratic Party were strongly against the war then, while the American public was not.


Things have changed in the past two years, but the American people have not pivoted 180 degrees on Iraq. Voters were angry, yes, and they blamed President George W. Bush and the Republicans. The Democrats profited from this sentiment, but that hardly means that it was a national referendum on the war. There were a number of reasons voters turned against Republicans. Some of them were that the public had tired of corruption scandals involving Republican congressmen such as Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Tom DeLay, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Then, there was the whole sordid matter involving former Rep. Mark Foley. Voters also tired of congressmen claiming to be fiscally responsible while using earmarks to waste money on projects of limited use.

The fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat, is a good case study of public sentiment about the war. Lieberman lost his party's nomination for re-election due to his stand on the war. The senator then ran and won as an independent. The Democratic Party of Connecticut was of one mind, the people in the state of another. At a joint press conference with Lieberman, Sen. John McCain, the Republican from Arizona, used his colleague to prove that supporting the war was no kiss of death. "There's no way this guy could have been re-elected if it was as simple as that," McCain said.


Activists in the Democratic Party are treating the elections as if they have a mandate from the people to reverse the course of the war. Consider the words of Eli Pariser, director of the MoveOn political action committee: "The bottom line is that when voters elected the Democrats, they did that on the promise that the Democrats would lead the country out of the war. Democrats need to fulfill on that promise, and they're going to."


These individuals are getting results. "Twenty-one thousand five hundred troops ought to have 21,500 strings attached to them," House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, remarked.


The strongest proponents of withdrawal, though, are in the Senate. Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, told the National Press Club: "The American people sent a clear message in November that we must change course in Iraq and begin to withdraw our troops, not escalate their presence."

He was even more blunt moments later: "It would compound the original misguided decision to invade Iraq. We cannot simply speak out against an escalation of troops in Iraq. We must act to prevent it." He then compared Iraq to Vietnam. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., was proposing withdrawal almost immediately after the balloting was finished.


Kennedy and Biden's reasoning, though, is wrong. Iraq is not Vietnam. If they think the war is a policy mistake, fine. They are doing their constitutionally mandated job, but if they think that a noisy minority in their own party that wants to force a military defeat on a Republican administration is the voice of the American people, then they are in error and could be pushing an agenda that could blow up in their face the way it did for the Federalists in the War of 1812, the Whigs after the War with Mexico, and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Editor's note: The writer is an associate professor of joint and international operations at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and is stationed at Fort Gordon. The views expressed in this piece are his only and do not reflect any official position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Army.

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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/28/07 - 07:16 am
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Deny the obvious. Yeah,

Deny the obvious. Yeah, that's the ticket! Two thirds of Americans
oppose the war in Vietnam. There is an active anti-war movement. If
this writer represents the analytical abilities of the United States
military, it is no wonder we are in trouble. This guy is straight out
of FOX news and NewsMax. Opposition to this war in the US Senate is
bipartisan. As many as 8 Republican senators are joining Democrats in
expressing opposition to President Bush's decision to escalate this war
by sending 21,500 US troops (and probably more later) to Iraq. A
headline in today's The Indepenent (UK) newspaper reads "Bush defiant
in face of anti-war demonstrations". Nothing new here! President Bush
was defiant in the face of massive worldwide anti-war demonstrations
BEFORE he ordered the US invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. One peace
demonstrator pleaded with Mr. Bush not to invade Iraq. "I get to make
that decision" Bush replied "you don't." George W. Bush is still using
the argument that HE ALONE is the decision maker against the advice of
the Iraq Study Group, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his top commanders
in Iraq who he sacked for their honest advice. Generals Shinseki and
Odom knew better.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/28/07 - 08:39 am
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Mr. Cain, again you are

Mr. Cain, again you are repeating information filtered through the CBS, PBS, and various other 'BS networks. Do some research. Use your computer for something other then mantra chanting. People involved with the war effort are likely to be better informed then people with a 'hate Bush' and an anti-Republican agenda. If you wish to swallow the pap fed filtered misinformation of the far left that's fine, but when you repeat it as fact you just make informed people shake their head and sigh.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/28/07 - 08:56 am
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Ms. Thomas, Generals John

Ms. Thomas, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey who were
Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush's two top commanders on the ground in
Iraq opposed sending additional U.S. troops into the quagmire of Iraq.
Bush cashiered them out of their jobs for their honest assessments. The
long standing position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was opposition to
sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Only with great arm twisting,
including promises to expand the size of the Army and Marine Corp, has
President Bush managed to coerce the reluctant acquiescence of the JCS
to his escalation of the failed war in Iraq. The surge of U.S. troops
into Iraq is already underway, but it is not going to change the
downward tragectory of this war. General Petraeus will likely ask for
even more U.S. troops beyond the 21,500 additional U.S. troops who have
already been ordered into Iraq and those in Iraq who are having their
tours of duty extended. President Bush does not have a new policy or a
new strategy on Iraq. This is more of the same stupid policy that has
repeatedly failed over the last 4 years. We can look forward to more of
the same or worse as the recalcitrant Bush and the isolated Cheney dig
in their heels.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/28/07 - 10:57 am
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Mr. Cain, very good. At last

Mr. Cain, very good. At last you've gotten some facts right. Your predetermined opinions have led you to draw 'failure conclusions' to actions in the future. Have you never faced a challenge? Do you feel all America can do is fail? Is there a chance that a war effort without worrying about political ramifications is lilely to be more effective? Patience, Mr. Cain. Don't be in such a hurry to loose.

giveitsomethought
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giveitsomethought 01/28/07 - 12:03 pm
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How much patience should

How much patience should those that are dying have?
How much Patience should those parents have?
How much Patience should those brothers and sisters have?
How much Patience should those Grandparents have?
How much Patience should those Uncles and Aunts have?
How much Patience should God have?

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/28/07 - 12:25 pm
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Ms Thomas, When one has

Ms Thomas, When one has driven his or her wagon off into a swamp the first thing on does it stop driving forward. Second, you unhitch your wagon from the team and lead them safely out of the muck. You don't whip your team and tell your passengers to "be patient" as the water rises up to their necks! You certainly don't ask the passengers to pay a higher fare for their sharing the rich experience of your misadventure.

In biblical parlance, my dear Ms Thomas, one does not build his house on shifting sand. The double entendre in that statement is intended.

One does not build a house that stands upon a flimy foundation, and one cannot build a logical case on a flawed premise. The whole thing collapses in upon itself like Baghdad is in the process of doing. The captain is responsible for taking his ship off course and having it founder upon the rocks. One does not ask the passengers for patience in that instance. This is the captain's failure not the troops who have done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to change course to save our ship of state. If the captain won't change course there are legal measures short of mutiny to pry his incompetent hands from the helm

jack
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jack 01/28/07 - 01:03 pm
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John long name Cain is just

John long name Cain is just another Democrat parrot who repeats what he is told by the DNC and the leftist MSM.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/28/07 - 02:37 pm
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Mr. Cain, once again your

Mr. Cain, once again your logical progression of ideas misses the mark because your starting point is skewed. All is not lost. All has not been faliure. All decisions made concerning Iraq have not been wrong. The operation has not been perfect , in hindsight, but it has been moving toward victory. Not as fast as everyone wants, but forward. To cut and run now would only support the radical islamists and prove them right when they say the United States operates in a "testicle free zone". Fortunately we have a leader that doesn't have that problem. I wonder about people that find that position offensive.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/28/07 - 03:10 pm
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Ms. Thomas, the problem is

Ms. Thomas, the problem is our Macho-in-Chief substitutes his gut instincts for reasoned strategies. That is why we are in a big bind in Iraq, and yes, everything there has been a failure. Saddam could and should have been removed from power, but not unilaterally by the US (or a pretend coalition that has long since crumbled) which then occupied Iraq and from which the neocons hoped to project US military power thoughout the region. I remember Saddam telling Dan Rather in an interview shortly before Bush ordered the invasion that, should the US invade Iraq, we would come to rue that day. Saddam was right. Bush never made a case against Saddam at the World Court or sought an arrest warrant. Saddam could have been apprehended similar to Slobodan Milosevik and spent the rest of his days in jail in The Hague. That would have been a preferable option to civil war in Iraq and looming regional war. We will be fighting "Muslim extremists" forever because we now have handed them a just cause by invading and occupying Iraq. They won't quit until all foreign occupiers leave Iraq and Afghanistan. Look at the history of Afghanistan. Look at the corruption in our puppet govts in both places.

The Knave
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The Knave 01/28/07 - 06:01 pm
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RE: patriciathomas' comment:

RE: patriciathomas' comment: "...when they say the United States operates in a "testicle free zone"."

I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that because of your seemingly feminine display name, that you were indeed "testicle free." However, you do seem to like to talk tough, so maybe you are a femine-type who also possesses male equipment. You do remind me of the screaming women at boxing matches who relish seeing the blood splatters and the crushed skulls.

You also seem to fit the model that LTG Gregory Newbold, USMC Ret. had in mind when he said about the Iraq debacle:

"The commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions – or bury the results."

Your credibility is zero when you are cheerleading for the draft-dodging duo of King George II and his sidekick, Dick (sure-shot) Cheny. While Vietnam was raging, George was busy filing out papers for a cushy, safe part-time shelter, while the Dickster was busy filling out papers for five student deferments. I guess the Dickster must have been a slow learner to requre so many. Now, where are those [filtered word] when needed?

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/28/07 - 07:31 pm
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I must admit I'm surprised at

I must admit I'm surprised at the number of people who are interested in proving the enemies of America to be right. What kind of accolades do you think you deserve?

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 01/28/07 - 09:25 pm
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It is not "my country right

It is not "my country right or wrong" Ms Thomas. We must always make
sure that our country does the right thing. That is our responsibility
as loyal citizens. The rule of law is the sine qua non for legitimate
exercise of authority. Honesty, forthrightness, and competency are
essential in our leaders. We were led into war under false pretenses -
knowingly false pretenses. There was a hidden agenda beyond the facade
of keeping Americans safe from terrorist attack. The neoconservative
Project for a New American Century had been on the shelf for years - at
least since 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United
States was to seize the unipolar moment (when no other superpower
challenged us) to assert our political, economic, and military hegemony
throughout the world. 9/11 offered the opportunity to not only go after
those responsible for attacking us, but to seek dominance over the
entire Middle East. Iraq was to be the first domino in a cascade to
reshape the region in our image. The entire world was united behind us
when we went after Osama bin Laden and Al Qa'ida. However, the
leadership of Al Qa'ida was allowed to slip away in the Tora Bora
Mountains. Incompetence!

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/28/07 - 10:07 pm
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Mr. Cain, narrow mindedness

Mr. Cain, narrow mindedness and a need to justify your point of view seems to have no limits. Before the {place multiple left wing adjectives here} Iraq war, we were attacked regularly around the world. Now we [Americans] are tieing up the massive funding of the radical islamists in a relatively small area. There are numerous other advantages to fighting this war on other then American soil. There are many nuances, both pro and con, with all wars. And just like in WWI and WWII and all other wars America was involved in, some citizens only see the ones against this country. Why live here? Doesn't Spain or Sweden or France apeal to you? I bet if you were to move you'd raise the moral level of both countries.

wrwells
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wrwells 01/29/07 - 09:28 am
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I was disappointed in the

I was disappointed in the piece of Professor Sarantakes. I wished to see more information why the current conflict in Iraq is not like that of Vietnam or, for that matter, like the military occupation of the South following the Civil War.

I wished he had spent his time and space to outline the differences and similiarities. There are many and this would have provided the reader with a clearer understanding of his thesis. Instead, we see the usual defensive stance of the Bush Administration. Considering many of the players were around for Vietnam (although they found reasons not to serve there) history may not have been repeated but policy decisions seemed to be made using a cracked mirror.

To say there is no anti-war movement against the conflict in Iraq may be short-sighted. Not many of the population have direct personal connection to it that they understand. All have a stake in it and the newspaper's editor has already commented on the fleecing of the national treasury to support some misguided, unplanned and poorly run military venture to force a nation to look like us. I agree Iraq is not Vietnam, but the result may be the same. In this case, Iraq is like Vietnam.

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