Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Obama on Vietnam
There are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam
Forgive me if I take that comment personally but I do feel a need to respond.
Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history.
Well, let's see. Obama gives three reading of history that he believes highlights the differences:
Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action.
Obama is right to say that we didn't have 43 countries with us then but for the Vietnam War the U.S. also Kabuled together a "coalition of the willing" including South Korea, Kingdom of Laos, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of China, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain (13 soldier), Nicaragua and Paraguay (offered to send troops). At the time it was painted as an "international"effort to stop communism, but in hindsight it is clear that the Vietnamese had it right when they named it "the American War." Afghanistan is a "NATO" [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] operation, Vietnam was a SEATO [South East Asia Treaty Organization] operation. The difference is as clear as mud.
Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency.
Again hindsight is 20/20 but at the time nobody in the government said the U.S. was fighting "a broad-based popular insurgency." At the time the U.S. completely denied that Vietnamese communist had popular support. They were branded terrorists and it was claimed that they only gained support and recruites through terror and intimidation like they say the Taliban does now. The real reason Obama needs to since 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan after 8 years of war has nothing to do with broad-base popular opposition to our occupation. If you think that you must be confused. And most importantly...
And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan.
Has he forgotten about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident already ? Has he forgotten that on August 5, 1964 President Johnson said "Last night I announced to the American people that the North Vietnamese regime had conducted further deliberate attacks against U.S. naval vessels operating in international waters." And this attack was used to pass what amounted to a declaration of war on Vietnam. Of course, years later even the Navy was forced to admit that "There was actually no North Vietnamese attack that night." With hindsight we now know that the Tonkin Gulf Incident was an "inside job" , a false excuse for war, not like 911. Clearly that was launched from Afghanistan. Right!
Given that President Obama felt compelled to speak at length of this 40 year old conflict, and these are the three differences he chose to highlight, I think he needs to re-read his history, and if he doesn't have much time for reading these days, I've got a film he can watch. Vietnam: American Holocaust.