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Dying in Vain in Vietnam and Iraq

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Patters, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Mike Gravel is a minor Democratic candidate for president, who's sort of the Democratic equivalent of Republican Ron Paul. He's very outspoken, supports a national sales tax and the abolition of the IRS. During a recent debate, he said that the soldiers died in vain in Vietnam. Whether you agree with him or not, he does make some good points in this column:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-mike-gravel/dying-in-vain-in-vietnam-_b_58091.html

    During Monday night's YouTube.com/CNN debate, I was asked if I would stand by my statement that our soldiers in Vietnam died in vain. Here's why our country needs to own up to this fact, especially now that our soldiers are once again dying in vain in Iraq.

    Throughout our three decades in Vietnam, we had several opportunities to stop the war. But each time our leaders chose to escalate because they saw Vietnam as a pivotal battle in the war on communism. From Eisenhower to Nixon, the mantra was the same: If we don't fight the communists in Vietnam, the dominoes will fall and we'll have to fight them in California. Under that logic, thousands of American deaths were regarded as a small price to pay. This false notion also obfuscated the immorality of dropping more bombs on the people of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos than were dropped in WWII -- people who were never a threat to our vital interests nor meant us any harm.

    The idea that Vietnam was part a worldwide communist conspiracy hid the fact that we were actually caught in the middle of a civil war that we instigated by denying them free elections. By the time Nixon came to power in 1969, it was perfectly clear that after spending billions of dollars and losing 36,000 troops, we still couldn't win. To secure Vietnam, the CIA overthrew the Cambodian government, opening the door to Pol Pot. Nixon then chose to expand the war by bombing and invading neutral Cambodia and Laos -- killing 800,000 innocent civilians.

    Nixon began a phased troop withdrawal that was intended to gradually hand over all military operations to the Vietnamese government. This "Vietnamization" strategy took four years and resulted in the deaths of an additional 22,000 Americans. And for what? South Vietnam fell almost immediately, and the only other country that went communist was the one we destabilized -- Cambodia, where Pol Pot killed one-third of his people until the communist Vietnamese government intervened and deposed him in 1978.
     
  2. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Surprised no response, or at least the Jane Fonda Kerry obligatory comments, otoh I do agree with his synopsis. They were selling the concept of worldwide domination by the communists, and lots of folks bought into it. I remember many arguments about this amongst friends, and never forget a HS assembly in 1963 or 1964 when a friend stood up and questioned the whole thing, this was a time when acceptance of just about everything was the norm. His comments led me down a road of discovery that led to many of my pacificist views that I steadfastly adhere to this day.

    When the reality became obvious, that is when the whole charade began to erode. I think that is why the whole Iraq thing has initially began with so much skepticism and this continues to this day.
     
  3. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    I'll respond. First off, he has to make statements like that (Soldiers dying in vain.... blaa, blaa, blaa). When you're that far back, you just need attention. You won't hear frontrunners say stuff like that. Particularly about current deaths in Iraq. That would not be a smart move

    to some extent I would agree with the guy, certainly with the Vietnam part. The argument was pretty thin and it felt like it at the time. As for Iraq. I would agree insomuch as initially that the direct threat to the US was not as dire as they was put out (which is kinda like the same as Vietnam), and in hindsight I wouldn't support it. That said, I always thought that the objective their, regardless of what we were told had larger geopolitical ME objectives. Had execution gone better, it probably would have worked out better. It didn't, and I'm certain disappointed and pissed about that.

    I think though that the similarity of where we are at now and where we Vietnam was in towards the end do not melt out. It's my opinion that outright defeat here (immediate withdrawal) will have MUCH more costly ramifications long term that our withdrawal from VN did. The would is much more interconnected then it was in the 60-70's and the real regional power in the ME (Iran) puts another dimension in the equation that was not in the VN scenario.

    Put a different way, I think the cost of failure is greater now then it was in 1974-75. We can argue that, but that's my thought. When I say cost too, I mean not only our cost, but the cost to the ME and the geopolitical structure there.

    Also, the definition of victory there is pretty thin right now too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  4. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Pro Bowl Player

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    #75 Jersey

    I agree with all of the posts on this thread oso far with one exception. What really drives me nuts when people try to make the argument that the situation in Iraq is different from the situation in Nam, I keep hearing (in the best cases) that the ramifications to the geopolitical outcomes are different. These types of statements are based on no more substance than the domino theory in regards to Viet Nam. Officially, the government came out saying that communism was the great threat in Nam and if it fell to the Reds, Thailand, the Phillipines and Japan were next...maybe even Australia and New Zealand.

    The same domino theories are used when talking about today's perceived threat of world domination by Muslim fundamentalists. People on the street heard it so much during the 50's and 60's that it became a given that the commies wanted to take over North America. Today, On Rush, O'Rielly, Cavuto, and Coulter, we hear the same mantra. Today, thanks to the protests in the late 60's /early 70's, and the resulting realization that the government lies as a matter of nature, such governmental bullsh-t is met with more skepticism. The message is not so easily made into a solid enough perception of "reality" as it was in the 50's and 60's. Too bad Congress hasn't caught up to the rest of the country, yet.

    There's no facts or past history that backs up the claim that Muslim fundamentalism will overtake the entire Middle East. Even if it does, so what?There's no evidence that that will harm us in any significant way from which we can't recover or adapt to. As long as we're not sending weapons and troops there, it's more rational to believe that Muslim fundamentalism is a local phenomenon than it is to believe in a Muslim domino theory.
     
  5. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Are you kidding?

    Of course the situations are different. I'm actually not even talking about the spread of Muslim Fundamentalism (though the threat AQ presents is still real). I'm talking about the regional stability of the area. There is NO COMPARING the regional significant to the US when it comes to the ME and SE Asia.... NONE. One has a huge impact on our economy, the other..... minimal. That immediately makes the ramifications of regional instability more significant to us in this case than with Vietnam. The bloodletting was terrible over there once we left, but in the great scheme of things.... it had NO REAL impact on the US or our way of life. We just went on our merry way.

    Here is different, insomuch as while we are there (doing whatever the hell we are doing), we are band-aiding what many experts agree is a very tenuous ME geopolitical structure (which may be of our own creation, which is something for debate elsewhere). In the inevitable bloodletting that will occur, primarily Sunni-Shia, will draw in other ME actors in a more active way and COULD create chaos and a huge scale.

    For instance, Saudi Arabia, will not sit by and watch the Shia slaughter millions of Sunni (they already said as much). This will pull them into conflict with Iran (the dominant Shia player in Iraq right now). They may not roll towards outright warfare, but they have economic cards (OIL) that they can play. Iran is in a much more tenuous position then most people think. If SA opens the spigots, so to speak and floods the market (meaning short term cheap oil), Iran (who cannot afford that) will have to blunt the measure some way just to ensure survival from it's own internal pressure. From there, who know what happens, but it's likely not good for US.

    and on, and on and on................. This is just 1 of 10 possible scenarios that could play out in the vacuum left if we "just leave". None of which are good, and all of which with effect us in the end (because of our dependance on OIL).

    None of this takes into account fundamentalism and the freedom they'd have to operate in the vacuum as well. Operate in order to mobilize, plan and strike us from the wasteland.

    Right now, victory is in that none of this can happen while we are there, which is why MOST sincere politicians know that we cannot just pull up tent pegs and move out. Best case is a drawing down of troops and leaving a significant BLOCKING force.

    That was NOT the case in Vietnam, where we basically did just that and walked away with little personal cost in the ensuing bloodbath.

    That alone makes the two situations (from where we sit right now) very different.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  6. scout

    scout Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #15 Jersey

    You know what the difference in Vietnam and Iraq is, oil (duh). Two unesasary wars, and one that could be totally avoided with the enemy being squashed without dropping a bomb. Does anyone not believe, that the money already spent in Iraq, plus the future expenses, could have gone to re-inventing our energy alternatives (actually, inventing is the wrong term as most of the technology is there). If scientists could invent the atomic bomb on short notice during WWII, then its reasonable that we could convert to alternative uses of energy, thus not supplying the enemy with capital to use against us. The answer is we could cut off these terrorist countries with cutting off oil revenues, then they are left with only the opium trade. The reason for this not happening is the revenues made by the oil industry and all the backroom deals that that includes. Imagine, all exported oil expenditures being re-invested/spent within the United States in all future years.
     
  7. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Very nicely said.. an excellent synopsis of what is going on.
     
  8. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    It will only be "in vien" if the Congress does what they did in Vietnam. After giving our word the South Vietnamese, Congress lead by Sen Frank Church committed one of the most cowardly acts in our history. They cut off funding.

    It was the first time that I was ashamed of my country and turned me away from the Democrat party to become an Independent.
     
  9. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    That's prolly the first thing you've ever said that I agree with. My biggest complaint about the WOT is we refuse disengage from those 3rd world backward mentalities that we are FORCED to have to deal with due to our unquenchable lust for OIL.

    One of the quickest ways to isolate us from them is to reduce our dependance on them.

    Right now though, it is what it is and must be dealt with as such. What have you done to reduce your need for oil?
     
  10. scout

    scout Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #15 Jersey

    Do you ever get nosebleeds from where you sit? Whereas, I agree with some of your points, you mostly sit on the fence and critique others. You end your post with a rather ho-hum it is what it is followed up with a "what am I doing". Wouldn't have been better for you to give an example of what you are doing to combat the energy situation, before asking me?
    It is not an "it is what it is". Americans die every day, because "it is what it is". I do not believe, because now we are there we should stay. I do not believe the brain trust states with its... if we leave now. When have they been right ? What is their mission, really, what is their mission? Remember the jokes about the Ms. America pageant entries, world peace? How is this any different? I am not a big oil consumer, tho, a lot of that is by coincidence (my wife travels 2.5 miles to work in a Saab, I stay home). We don't have A/C, and use radiator heat. I do not vote for Big Oil politicians. I speak my mind on the web in hopes that others 'get it'. The problem isn't me, the problem is citizens who back George Bush and company regardless of any principles, consequences, or outcomes. Equally as liable, are the citizens who sit on the sidelines who act as mediators and not voicing their opinions one way or the other.
     
  11. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Oh, pleeeeease...... I'm one of the few on here that admits errors when I make them, which I'm about to do again. I also freely acknowledge others good arguments and points. left, right or middle.

    As for the rest...... Actually, I erred when I wrote that. I meant that as a collective rhetorical YOU, ME, US, Regular folks kinda way. I poorly framed it in the personal YOU way, and you {rightly} got defensive. That was not my intention. My apologies. Let me RESTATE it.

    What are WE doing to reduce our individual dependence on oil. We, as a society, don't seem to be putting enough emphasis on personal consumption or to force the leadership of this country to change. It's kinda like global warming. It's great in theory and most of us wanna do something about it, but then comes winter and it 2 degrees out, so we jack the heat up to 72 inside.

    That was my point. WE, as a society, need to find a way to become less dependent on oil, until we do, the cycle with {sadly} continue.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  12. scout

    scout Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    #15 Jersey

    Ok, sorry for the misread. I took it as condescending, and I was wrong. We as a society do need to take the corrective steps. Short of a revolution, not sure that we are going to see changes, conservation measures help, but in the long run are not going to get it.
     

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