Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vietnam Comparisons

Young Bush Poses with Air National Guard Jet

When President Bush started making comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, something about it really made me bristle. It was too visceral to be about policy. The absurdity of his policy connections were clear enough- the pro-war line at the time was there there would be a "domino effect" with all of Asia falling under Communism if we withdrew. It did not happen. Thirty years later, we are trading "most favored nation" style with the same folks that we were told we absolutely must keep fighting with 30 years ago. So were we wrong then, wrong now, or both?

But no, the "surge" going on in my gut was too personal in tone. Then it hit me when I read an article about the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard being called back to Iraq for the second time in two years. The rules of deployment were recently "re-interpreted" so that National Guard units could be ordered to deploy more frequently than they were originally led to believe.

In Vietnam, George Bush hid from combat by using his privileged connections to get in the "Air National Guard". Now, he repeatedly sends overseas not just Army active duty unites, or even Army Reserve units, but National Guard units. He has overtaxed our military so much that even National Guard units are being sent on virtually back-to-back deployments. He has no qualms about ordering our current National Guardsmen to make the sacrifice that he used the National Guard to avoid. In fact, he does it with such a smug air of righteousness and total lack of self-doubt or introspection that it boggles the mind. Here is how Wikepedia puts it..

"..........In a 1994 interview, Bush stated that he joined the Guard because "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."[6]

The unit in which Bush served was known as a "Champagne unit," where the scions of the Texas aristocracy could avoid combat duty with relatively few demands on their time. Serving in that unit with Bush were the sons of three prominent men: Democratic Governor John Connally, Democratic Senator and future Vice-Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen, and Republican Senator John Tower, as well as seven members of the Dallas Cowboys professional football club, and a man named James R. Bath, who would become a longtime friend of Bush's."

I am just amazed at his nerve. He calls up comparisons with Vietnam that are wrong on a policy level, but even more disgraceful on a personal level. A man who used the National Guard to escape deployment to the war zone ought to feel at least a mustard seed of shame or self-doubt that he is demanding that National Guardsmen be torn from their families again and again, risking their lives in the worst possible example of the kind of nation-building mission that he said when running in 2000 that we should avoid. And not only does he call them up, but he refers back to the conflict he took a pass on to justify doing it!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said, but what about the war on terror? Does Bush have the moral authority to send troops into harms way? I think he does. The point Bush was making is if we pull out of Iraq thousands of innocent people will die, just like Vietnam. It would show the U.S. as weak if we cut and run from Iraq and I would rather fight the terrorist there than here.

5:34 AM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you for your agreement. Let me just respond to the issues you raised point by point

1) A "war on terror" is a misnomer. It should never have been used. You cannot win a "war on terror" as terror is a tactic. You might as well declare "war on artillery barrages" or "war on massed armor assaults". A "war on terror" misnames the enemy.

In WWI Germany used an unacceptable tactic, unrestricted submarine warfare, that sank our shipping. We declared war on Germany, not "unrestricted submarine warfare".

I am afraid Bush has not even successfully defined the enemy, much less victory conditions.

Moral authority to send troops into harms way? The classic Christian "just war" doctrine says in part that you should only wage war on nations that have attacked you, or are clearly going to. I don't see where we have moral authority to launch "premptive war" against a nation that was no threat to us.

In that sense I do not believe that President Bush, or any President, has the authority to send troops to occupy nations that are no threat to the United States.

In addition, moral authority can come in part from LEGAL authority. Any President should need a declaration of war from Congress against the government of anther country before he invades it. Given that Iraq was no real threat to our national security, all we had was permission to enforce U.N. resolutions. I do not believe any American President has the right to risk the lives of American servicemen in order to "enforce U.N. resolutions".

7:28 AM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

2) If we pull out of Iraq, thousands of innocent people will die. If we REMAIN in Iraq, thousands of innocent people will die, it is just that more of them will be Americans.

The Islamic Republic of Iraq is not worth the life of one more Arkansan. We have given them a chance for a Republic, if they are too filled with hate and violence to keep it then what has that to do with us?

We cannot force good government on bad people at the point of a gun. Good government requires virtue. A "war on terror" is a recipe for endless war, a war to "nation-build" is a recipe for endless war. And in war, there is a constant shrill call for Americans to sacrifice both their liberty for "security".

All we should care about is that whoever takes over should realize that if they sponsor attacks on the U.S., we will take them out too.

7:35 AM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Why is the United States weak just because the people of Iraq lack the virtue to form a stable government?

And forget LOOKING weak. If we keep exhausting our military on the wrong targets then we will be overstretched. We WILL BE WEAK compared to what we are if stubbourness and pride drive our military decisions rather than what is in the interests of our country.

What matters to our potential adversaries is not "will they have the ability to turn my nation into a stable democracy after I am gone?", no what matters to our potential enemies is "does the United States have the will and power to overthrow my regime?"

Our forces are stretched too thin already, and that in itself could embolden some enemy. No, we would not be weaker from withdrawal, but it would actually give us a chance to rebuild.

7:40 AM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I would rather fight them over there too, that is why I was all for the invasion of Afganistan. Unfortunately most of the ones we are fighting over there WOULD NOT COME OVER HERE. They are fighting us for nationalistic reasons- because we have occupied their province for years and are building permanent basis. We are killing and being killed by people who would be no threat to us if we were not occupying their country.

If some other nation tried to occupy my country, I'd likely fight them, and so would you.

This occupation is a new recruiting tool for Al-Quaeda.

7:46 AM, August 26, 2007  
Anonymous Rick Candler said...

My problem with this war is both the Democrats and Republicans are playing politics. Osama Bin Laden has said Iraq is one of the central fronts of this war. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt him, the President and Republicans should be throwing everything we have to win. They aren't doing that. We are fighting this war like every war the U.S. has fought since WW11, politically correct.
Of course the Democrat Party have their own issues, a surrender policy. They have tried to undermine everything this President has done. Even John Kerry has went so far as to call our troops terrorist. The Democrat leadership has said a good report from Iraq next month will be bad politically for their Party. The Democrat Party has invested politically to losing this war in Iraq. How sad is that?
I belive to win a war D.C. must stay out of it and let the Generals do their job. Like Vietnam we are losing this war politically not military.
One more question Mark. How would you define the enemy we are facing?

10:21 AM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...


It is good to hear from you. The enemy is the people who attacked us on 911 - that was a branch of Al-Quaeda (it is a diverse organization with many agendas) which was a part of the Taliban government in Afganistan. We should have concentrated our forces, finished the job there, and left.

Of course, many times your enemy has a philosophy that drives them, communism, nazism etc. In this case the philosophy is Islamofascism. While we are warring with guns and bombs, we must also war on the level of ideas.

Our leaders are ignoring the Islamacist component of this struggle because it is not PC to assert truth claims about religious matters. But in my view we must confront directly the idea that blowing up non-combatants is some kind of ticket to paradise. We need the courage to tell them they are wrong and that it is instead a ticket to Hell. We would have an ally even in the hearts of our enemy.

PS- I believe that Osama Bin Laden is dead, and if not dead, hiding along the Afgan-Pak border. If he is really alive and really said Iraq is the central front it is 1) because he wants us focused away from where he is and 2) because it is the only place he has where it is handy to kill Americans and our presence provides such a powerful recruiting tool.

AQ was not going to take over Iraq with Saddam there. After we got him out, there is no way Al-Qaeda was going to take over Iraq even if we were not there. They might have taken over the Sunni heartlands, but that only would have gotten the Sunnis and AQ slaughtered as AQ picked a fight with the more numerous Shia and Kurds who have better access to Iraq's oil resources.

11:36 AM, August 26, 2007  
Anonymous Rick Candler said...

I don't buy into the argument that AQ is using Iraq as a recruiting tool therefore we must get out. What tool did they use during the 80's or 90's when terrorism against us increased in my opinion because we never responded. Its a damned if we do and damned if we don't argument.
Leading up to the war in Iraq we thought by our intelligence they had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was a sponsor of terrorism. He even tried to buy uranium in Africa and yes there was a connection to Saddam and AQ. Should we have gone there? I think so considering the evidence at the time. But regardless of what a person thinks about the initial invasion we are now there. So the question is what are the consequences of leaving? Is it just that we show the world we don't make good friends? I believe it shows we don't have the stomach to fight this war and that makes us look weak. We must demand from our politicians to win this war quickly and use whatever firepower we have to do so.
PS-Thanks for the blog Mark. I really enjoy the thoughts posted!

12:38 PM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...


I don't buy into that argument either, and it is not the one I am making. AQ had a safe haven from the government of Afganistan. When they attacked us, we attacked Afganistan and effected regime change. That is what you do.

Since you ask what they used as a tool to recruit against us before we took over Iraq, and since you agree that listening to Bin Laden is a key to understanding him, I can only point you to what he himself said- that we had permanent military bases in "the holy land" of Saudi Arabia.

Now I don't care whether they like it that we have military bases in Saudi Arabia or not. I don't propose that our foreign policy ought to be dictated by what Islamofascists like or don't like. Our foreign policy should be based on what is in the interests of the American people and consistent with the traditions of our Founders. It is not in our interests or traditions to continue garrison the planet. I don't say this out of fear of AQ, it's the way I felt about Bosnia in 2000 when I voted for GW Bush in part because he said we needed a more humble foreign policy that did not nation build, and that we should never go into a place without a clear set of victory conditions.

Still, there is a cost involved, and what matters to me is what is in the best interests of the citizens of the United States of America. I don't think maintaining garrisons in Saudi Arabia and 110 other countries is in the best interests of the American people. I can't imagine any of the founders approving of such a thing.

If we do send guys with guns around the world to permanently occupy other countries so the UN can tell people how to conduct their lives, it is going to cause resentment. That is the "blowback" thing that the CIA talks about. Does it mean that it is "our fault" when terrorists murder innocent civilians. Of course not. It is the terrorists fault. Even if we are wrong to be there, two wrongs don't make a right.

Should we have gone in? Saddam was a brutal thug, but he did not attack us. He did not sponsor terror against us. His army was 1/10th the power of the army we shattered ten years before. Maybe he had WMD and maybe not. It does not matter. We can't keep using our army to attack nations on the idea that we have to keep them at 1943 technology levels. We can't win that war. His connection to AQ was of the "six degrees of seperation" kind, not the Afganistan kind. His thugs were killing some of the same guys that we are having to kill now.

There are several possible outcomes of us leaving, and none of them are any worse than continuing to borrow money from the Chi-coms in order to fund the grinding down of our armed forces in an effort to referee an Islamic civil war. The Iraqis have a chance for a Republic, but it is up to them to keep it, not us.

What does it say about us if we leave? What the heads of state around the world need to know about us is that if they give safe haven for terrorist groups which attack us, then we will come and kill them. We may not hang around for 30 years and turn their former country into a constitutional Republic, but they will be too DEAD to worry about that. That's all they need to know.

2:48 PM, August 26, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

And I also have enjoyed the discussion. This really helps me clarify my thoughts on the matter (if I was clear!)

2:49 PM, August 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I'm in the 39th. I didn't go before because I was in high school but I remember my friend's dad going. And now me my friend from high school and his dad get to go.

11:31 PM, August 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But then again me and my friend joined knowing we might get deployed.

11:35 PM, August 28, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I agree that when you sign up, you sign up for the mission. You are doing the moral thing by honoring your commitments, I just wonder if Bush is doing the moral thing by over-utilizing the guard for foreign deployments when HE used the guard to take a pass.

Then there is the question of whether this mission is so critical to our national security that it is worth stretching our forces so thin. Right now, if a new enemy popped up, we are in trouble. Our reserves have already been committed and re-committed.

6:24 AM, August 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the "scandal" the Mexican truck invasion?

6:06 AM, August 31, 2007  

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