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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Vietnam & Iraq, cont.

A gentleman by the name of Bluto -- who, as I mentioned the other day, referred on Mypetjawa to the recent pro-torture poll as the "Red Hot Poker Up the Ass Poll" -- replied to this morning's Vietnam post of mine with a post of his own, which he bestowed with the not-very-nice title "Tell me Sweet Little Lies." Here is some of what Bluto has to say:


Every once in a while a liberal passes on a falsehood so egregious and obnoxious that it simply requires a response:


He’s referring to me there. But before he throws around that oh-so-hurtful, dreaded "L" word, he should check the quite right-wing site where he sometimes posts -- here, here and here – all of which favorably reference posts of mine which seem quite inconsistent with the "liberal" label he wants to append to me as some sort of insult.


As Digby recently and soon-to-be-famously observed:


"'Conservative' is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals."


Back to Bluto:


Glenn Greenwald then goes on to make a particularly longwinded comparison of Iraq to Vietnam that reminded me of that old song about the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations ("...both 'Kennedy' and 'Lincoln' have seven letters...").


The American wars in Vietnam and Iraq both:


  • began with misleading or outright false governmental claims designed to make a threat seem more serious or ominous than it really was – the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam and Saddam’s WMDs in Iraq;

  • were plagued by the military’s drastic under-estimation of the enemy;

  • ended up being dragged out for much longer, and with much greater casualties and expenditures of resources, than the American people were told they would;

  • had no clear exit strategy, definitive mission, or metric for "winning";

  • were fueled by countless, deceitfully optimistic claims by the military and Executive which severely exaggerated U.S. gains and minimized or concealed U.S. losses;

  • brought shame to the U.S. as a result of seemingly sanctioned acts by the military which violated America’s own standards and laws;

  • sparked massive worldwide anti-American protests and created great civil strife domestically;

  • were propped up by constant, repetitive governmental promises of imminent improvements and breakthroughs which never came;
    and,

  • as a result of all of the above, suffered from the syndrome of inexorably declining public support.


It seems like those two wars have a lot more in common than just the number of letters in their name.


Bluto continues:

Well Glenn, from one of those who actually is old enough to remember, there was a little process called "Vietnamization", that culminated in 1972, by which time virtually all US troops had been withdrawn, (not 1975) and was successful (there was also a major American victory called the "Tet Offensive", but that's another story).


One can call anything one wants a "victory" -- including one’s withdraw from a war while achieving none of the goals -- but that is not quite how the South Vietnamese, on whose behalf we were supposedly fighting, nor the North Koreans Vietnamese [fixed in order to prevent the use of this self-evidently inadvertent error as a cheap method for avoiding the substantive point here - oops, too late], our enemies, thought of it at the time:


PRESIDENT NIXON, January 23, 1973: A cease-fire, internationally supervised, will begin at 7:00 pm this Saturday, January 27, Washington time. Within 60 days from this Saturday, all Americans held prisoners of war throughout Indochina will be released. There will be the fullest possible accounting for all of those who are missing in action. During the same 60-day period, all American forces will be withdrawn from South Vietnam. The people of South Vietnam have been guaranteed the right to determine their own future.

CAPT. DO CUONG (Army of South Vietnam): We are absolutely furious about the agreement. It was an injustice -- more of a death sentence for us than a peace agreement. We had never seen anything more illogical. It called for the withdrawal of only the American forces and not the withdrawal of other foreign troops, such as the Vietnamese Communists.

[Documentary Narrator]: The agreement left Vietcong and North Vietnamese forces in the zones they controlled in the South, awaiting a political compromise. The Communists welcomed the agreement as recognition of their legitimacy.


Bluto:


Glenn and his fellow defeatists would hand the Islamist terrorists an identical victory. This time, though, the victors will pursue their advantage on American soil.


I would really love to hear an explanation as to how our waging war in Iraq – against enemies of which only a small number, as even President Bush acknowledges, are accurately characterized as "terrorists" – is preventing, or even impeding, Al Qaeda from launching attacks in the U.S.

Our war didn't stop terrorist attacks in London, Madrid, Jordan, and countless other places around the globe in the last 2 1/2 years since our invasion. How would it possibly be stopping or impeding attacks in the U.S.?

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