The Lessons of Viet Nam Ignored Again


Forty years ago I had just graduated from college and entered law school. John Kennedy had been assassinated three years earlier and Lyndon Johnson had been elected President in one of the ugliest campaigns America had ever experienced. Having lied to the American public about Barry Goldwater, Johnson began a long series of lies about the escalating Viet Nam War — a war he had inherited from Kennedy.

I did not serve in that war. I was washed out of advanced ROTC in my senior year because of injuries. All three of my roommates, who were also members of the advanced ROTC, went on to serve — one in intelligence, one in the infantry and one as a helicopter pilot. They joined other young men whom I knew from high school and college — some volunteered, most were drafted.

About this same time, the nascent anti-war movement was gaining steam. Every day the national print and television media carried pictures and stories of the deaths of American soldiers. They were accompanied by a myriad of stories that cast the murderous North Vietnam regime as folk heroes and America has an unwanted aggressor. Spurred by favorable media coverage the anti-war movement gained strength and legitimacy even though elements of it engaged in domestic terrorist acts. Finally, the politicians — never pillars of courage — joined the fray. Eugene McCarthy prodded our conscience and George McGovern became the first of many Democrats to find fault in everything America did.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, we stopped fighting to win. President Johnson decided to manage the war directly. He ignored his generals and began prescribing battles and strategies designed by a politician for political, not military, purposes. For instance, there were areas used routinely by North Vietnam and the Vietcong rebels to assemble, re-supply, and recover that were declared off-limits to American troops and bomber. They became safe havens for the enemy.

Each new initiative by the anti-war forces in Congress imposed greater restrictions, less support and more criticism. But, while crippling their ability to fight, none in Congress appeared to have the courage to force a withdrawal and accept the blame for defeat. All the while, we continued to throw more and more troops — my friends and classmates — into a meat grinder that simply chewed up these young men without purpose or direction.

The major newspapers and the broadcast television networks embarked on a one-sided, multi-year crusade to create opposition to the war. American atrocities, real and imagined, were headlined. North Vietnamese atrocities, both before and after the war, went unreported. Battle victories were ignored while battle defeats and growing body counts were splashed across page one or led the evening news. All the while, the politicians continued the endless chain of young men into combat.

Throughout the course of the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson proved to be a prolific liar and his successor, Richard Nixon, who promised to end the war, proved to be no better. In the end, over 58,000 young men lost their lives. Another 300,000 were injured with over half of them requiring hospitalization. The young men, who stood in harm’s way at the behest of their presidents and their Congress returned home, defeated, vilified and ultimately confused. Why had they and their comrades been asked to make the ultimate sacrifice? For what purposes was the war fought? And most importantly, why was the war lost?

Historians will continue to debate the first two questions but the answer to the latter is clear and irrefutable. We lost the Vietnam War because the politicians decided not to win

War in an inhumane, but often necessary, act. It is violent, it is barbaric, people die, things are destroyed. It is certainly not for the faint at heart. It cannot be prosecuted politely. It cannot have rules that are imposed only on one side. And it cannot be ended on the assumption that our withdrawal will end the blood shed and the savagery.

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousand of Vietnamese were executed or imprisoned by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong. Nearly 2 million people were executed by their allied Khmer Rouge armies in Cambodia. The “magnificent patriots” lauded by the anti-war advocates exacted their revenge with the full knowledge that America’s media would ignore their atrocities.

It is understandable that there are those who are pacifists and abhor the nature of war itself. What is not understandable is how politicians can continue to sacrifice the lives of our young men and women in a war that they refuse to win but will not accept the blame for a loss. Can winning the next election be so important that you will continue to posture rather than act decisively? There must surely be a circle of hell reserved for those who have toyed with our nation’s finest for their own political gain.

In the end, either fight to win or bring them home now.

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  • Rupert in Springfield

    Well, at this point it may very well be time to bring them home. The recent Supreme Court decision, granting habeas corpus rights to Gitmo detainees now means this war is essentially unwinnable. You simply cant ask soldiers to arrest the enemy in the field in such a manner that evidence will be gathered properly, full constitutional rights will be protected and a formal trial to thus proceed. The alternative, simply shooting anyone that might otherwise be taken captive so as to avoid this mess, would result in a war crimes trial.

    The big lesson to learn from Vietnam at this point is to hold those accountable who put us in this position. Most adults remember the killing fields of Cambodia, and to some extent Vietnam, that flourished upon our departure from the region. None remember any being held to account for their part portraying the rulers of those death fields as folk heroes.

    “Oh but how could we have known? How could anyone have predicted the brutality of the Khmer Rouge?”

    The answer is simple – You should have known. They told you what they would do, just as Hitler did in Mien Kamph and just as bin Ladin does in his video tapes.

    Now is the time to start asking questions of the smart ones, the brilliantly anointed. Those who criticized Bush for having no exit strategy need to be asked now what their exit strategy is. Is the plan to leave, accept the fall of whatever democratic progress has been made in Iraq? Along with that are we to accept Iraq as a satellite of Iran, which it will surely be? We are being asked to accept Iran as a nuclear power by these people, so is this simply more of the same strategy?

    Americans must ask themselves, is the time period spent to civilize Iraq worth the same investment we put into civilizing Europe at the end of WW2 that continues to present? Is a 40 or 50 year commitment something we are willing to do or not?

    If we are not, are we willing to accept a greatly expanded Iran along with greatly expanded terrorism in its quest for middle east hegemony?

  • wookie

    Iraq is already a satellite of Iran – look who is in charge in Iraq and who they are allied with. The current government of Iraq has a very cozy relationship with their neighbors, and we have given them this opportunity.

    The Bush Administration is responsible, not those who are opposed to the continued occupation of Iraq. While it’s fair to call for a continued debate on what to do next, attempts to shift responsibility at this point will not fly with the American people, and certainly not with historians.

    As well, attempts to compare the occupation of Europe after the War with the current occupation of Iraq have little or no basis in reality. But if it makes you feel better…………

  • John Fairplay

    I’d support the kind of stand-down in the War on Terror that Sen. Obama is advocating if we could be assured that when the terrorists return to U.S. soil they would murder only the families of people like wookie. Instead they will – as they did on 9/11 and in 1993 – murder innocent people just trying to live their lives.

    I think it’s going to take a series of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to wake people up. The ultimate death toll on U.S. soil from following Obama (or wookie) will make the Iraq casualties look like a rounding error. In the meantime, we will have to continue to endure the kind of naivete the previous post contains.

  • dean

    Wow….so much to take issue with and so little time.

    Lets start with:
    “the politicians – never pillars of courage – joined the fray. Eugene McCarthy prodded our conscience and George McGovern became the first of many Democrats to find fault in everything America did.”

    George McGovern, that non-pillar of courage, flew 35 missions as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot in WW 2, which he volunteered to serve in. The survival rate of those planes and pilots was something like 10%. What an un-American coward he must have been.

    Meanwhile Nixon served in the navy “supply corps” and Reagan remained stateside in the 1st Motion Picture Unit ….but never mind about that. We all know Democrats are liberal panty-waist back-stabbing cowards right?

    But let’s cut to the chase. The Viet Nam war was a bi-partisan fool’s errand. We did not “win” because we erred in entering an anti-colonial war that we took over from the French. We made the mistake of misunderstanding a culture, its history, and what the people there wanted for themselves, whcih was freedom from the likes of us telling them how to manage their own affairs. The Khemer Rouge would never have gotten to 1st base had we not deposed Prince Sianhouk (sp?) who wanted us out of his country, which we were illegally bombing.

    In Iraq we have made a similar miscalculation. We (or at least President Cheney) assumed that the Iraqis were pining for western style freedom, and all we had to do was get rid of Sadam and his supporters. It turned out they were conflicted in what they want, and we ended up unleashing a sectarian conflict based on centuries old issues that we are not going to solve for them.

    Rupert…Its not that Bush had no exit strategy. Its that he had no post-war management strategy….and even had he had one it might not have mattered. He lit a fuse in an ammo dump and it went kaboom. Now there are bits and pieces all over the place. Stay or go…doesn’t matter except to those brave Americans we are putting in harms way for their 3rd or 4th tours. As Wookie says, that country is now an Iranian satellite. It is at best a weak, fractured state with powerful neighbors sitting over a big pool of oil.

    We are not going to “civilize” Iraq. They beat us to the punch by about 8000 years, having invented civilization along the Tigris and Euphrates. It turns out that “civilization” includes systematic brutality and always has.

    Its not the “time period spent” that matters. Its the blood and treasure. No…it is not worth it. A staged withdrawel (taking all those who helped us and will be in danger with us on the way out) that leaves the future of Iraq in the hands of the remaining Iraqis is the only sensible way forward. Yes…that means accepting a more powerful and influential Iran. $135 a barrel oil has already insured that result in any case.

  • Bob Clark

    It is reported the existing Iraqi president is gaining some credence with Iraqis, and it seems like we should continue to assist this government hoping it only gets stronger. I hope we might learn from this mis-adventure and adopt less imperialistic foreign policies going forward. I think we should drill for more oil domestically, ramp up nuclear generation like France, continue to build wind generating capacity, and encourage fuel efficiency. This would reduce our temptation to look to protect Middle East oil reserves. Tough thing is this all requires balancing competing goals, and hopefully we can find some middle ground rather than block each other into inaction.

    • PK2

      Bob,

      I would not even know where to look for middle ground on this war. It ishard to trust anyone because war brings out the worst.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Wooky:

    >As well, attempts to compare the occupation of Europe after the War with the current occupation of Iraq have little or no basis in reality. But if it makes you feel better…………

    What a silly comment.

    I mean if it makes you feel better to say an apt comparison has no basis in reality, with no real comments to back up why you think that, well…you go right ahead. I would suggest a more mature approach, like learning from history.

    We occupied Europe for 60 years and counting. This was done to prevent them from killing each other as they had attempted to do twice in a twenty year period. Iraq will take that sort of time commitment. Bush told us this be right at the outset. Funny how so many forget that.

    Dean:
    >We are not going to “civilize” Iraq. They beat us to the punch by about 8000 years, having invented civilization along the Tigris and Euphrates.

    How odd. A geographic area, having had some sort of society on it at one point, is forever considered civilized? That’s some weird logic, but okie dokey.

    >Rupert…Its not that Bush had no exit strategy. Its that he had no post-war management strategy…. blood….treasure…..blah….blah….blah

    Look, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is one very simple fact. You guys are saying Bush blew it. Fine. There are totally valid arguments to support that point. Where you are being irresponsible is with “what do we do now” phase of things. You guys just want to call Bush stupid, with no real suggestions for the future in Iraq, or acceptance of responsibility for what few suggestions you do have.

    Sorry, that’s not how things work, you change the strategy, you take over the helm, you take responsibility. And no, the “well he started it” approach is about as valid in this case as it was on the playground.

    As a side note – In other humorous news, it appears that Al Gore’s energy usage in his mansion, heated pool house and guest house complex is up 10% from last year. Way to go Al! $17,000 a month on the energy bill, no responsibility to curb your own habits?

    Wait a second, do I detect a theme here?

    Ok – Forget it, I’m an idiot, you guys wont hold one of your own accountable for hypocrisy on an electrical bill. What makes me think you will ever hold one of yourselves accountable if you get us into an even worse situation in a war?

    Being on the left – Its all about vibes, intentions, and gosh darn goodness. New and improved, now with 90% less responsibility and twice the guilt! Get some today and start your hand wringing and embarrassment over your country tomorrow!

  • snow

    I never stop being amazed at the failure of Americans to look at reality. Failure to look at reality instead of pie in the sky, cost us Viet Nam and it’s huge loss of lives. Many my friends and classmates. That same failure will cost us Iraq.

    Please give me the courtesy of not belittling y comments. I was there , were you?

    • dean

      Snow…I missed Nam by the writ of a pen. I had a #18 in the lottery, had passed my pre-induction physical, and nearly enlisted just to get away from the south side of Chicago. My brother, an air force Nam vet came home on leave and talked me out of enlisting, saying the entire war was FUBAR, and I should beat a retreat to Canada. I hesitated and Nixon ended the draft, thus ending my potential contribution of blood, if not treasure to that tragic fiasco. A number of friends from the hood were less fortunate.

      Rupert…two things. First…we have not been “occupying Europe” for 60 years. We have treaty sanctioned bases in friendly nations where no one shoots at us or plants roadside bombs to blow us up. We are occupying Iraq under a post facto United Nations mandate that expires at the end of this year. Recent news reports suggest the Iraqis do not want a treaty that grants long term basing “privledges.” As Bob Clark points out, the current Iraqi sectarian government apears to be consolidating its grip on power. I would say we have an opportune moment to begin a staged withdrawel. Declare “victory” and bring the troops home.

      Yes…I blame President Bush (but did not call him “stupid”) and his administration AND those in Congress and the media who backed him, including nearly all Republicans and multiple Democrats: Clinton, Biden, Kerry, et al. Yes…they should all bear the stain of this fiasco and ask (especially the families of the dead and wounded) understanding and forgiveness, if not commit mass Sepuku.

      Going forward…a staged, orderly withdrawel. Its not about vibes. Its about $12 billion borrowed from our kids a month that they can’t afford, its about 3rd and 4th tours of duty for a depleted force with depleted equipment, its about allowing, nay forcing the Iraqis to come to grips with their own nation, or 3 nations, or 200 tribal fiefdoms if this is what they end up with.

      You may see this as irresponsible. I see an indefinite commitment of inadequate resources while advocating yet more tax breaks during a time of war as irresponsible (hello John McCain). About 70-80% of Americans, including a whole lot of self-described “conservatives” appear to agree with my position, so this is not about your personal war with “the left.”

      And by the way…Middle Eastern civilization has been an unbroken chain for 8000 years. The ancestors of present day Arabs and Persians invented agriculture, writing, and much of science and mathematics. It was not just “A geographic area, having had some sort of society on it at one point”. Your own ignorance matches our nation’s arrogance in thinking we can “bring civilization” to people who had it long before our own ancestors, including my Greeks. Which goes a long way to explain why we repeat the mistakes of Viet Nam…namely arrogance in foreign relations.

      To (hopefully) quote Danny Devito in Matilda:
      “I’m big and you’re little
      I’m smart and you’re dumb
      So I’m right and you’re wrong.”

      Not a good basis for starting wars.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Rupert…two things. First…we have not been “occupying Europe” for 60 years. We have treaty sanctioned bases in friendly nations

        Really? Hmm, we had a treaty with the Nazi’s to occupy Germany after Hitler killed himself? Interesting. I did not know that.

        >where no one shoots at us or plants roadside bombs to blow us up.

        Hmm, odd. We seemed to have a substantial number of troops to prevent the Soviets from flooding across the Fulda Gap. OK, my imagination. Although I sure gotta wonder what all the upsetness was with Reagan over the Pershing missile basing. Odd.

        >As Bob Clark points out, the current Iraqi sectarian government apears to be consolidating its grip on power. I would say we have an opportune moment to begin a staged withdrawel. Declare “victory” and bring the troops home.

        I’m with you on this one. I’m simply saying if whatever progress we have made falls apart because of our departure, you guys own it and take responsibility for it. Seems reasonable to me, what’s your problem with that?

        >Yes…I blame President Bush (but did not call him “stupid”) and his administration AND those in Congress and the media who backed him, including nearly all Republicans and multiple Democrats: Clinton, Biden, Kerry, et al.

        I think it was nearly all the Democrats as well. The use of force authorization was pretty close to unanimous if I recall. Hey, wait a second, this doesn’t portend well for you guys taking responsibility for the aftermath of the premature withdrawal you urge, you certainly aren’t taking any responsibility for the use of force authorization vote. What gives here?

        >Yes…they should all bear the stain of this fiasco and ask (especially the families of the dead and wounded) understanding and forgiveness, if not commit mass Sepuku.

        Ahh Grasshopper, you miss snatching the pebble of knowledge once again. Who is asking them to commit mass Seppuku? Just simply own up to the responsibility for the aftermath of withdrawal. If it works out as great as you guys seem to think, and everyone in the mid east loves us, and all the Euro’s are our friends again, I would think you would want credit for it?

        >Going forward…a staged, orderly withdrawel. Its not about vibes. Its about $12 billion borrowed from our kids a month that they can’t afford

        Uh oh – I always get real worried when libs feign concern over the cost of anything. Look, we are borrowing ourselves into oblivion with all the zany programs you guys love, to all of a sudden have fiscal concern is a little too transparent for me. The folly of taking your monetary concern with any seriousness, shines through like the light of the eastern sunrise comes through the soji screen.

        >You may see this as irresponsible.

        Not at all, I see the lack of accepting responsibility for the aftermath which you encourage as irresponsibly.

        >I see an indefinite commitment of inadequate resources while advocating yet more tax breaks during a time of war as irresponsible (hello John McCain).

        McCain was against the Bush tax breaks.

        >About 70-80% of Americans, including a whole lot of self-described “conservatives” appear to agree with my position, so this is not about your personal war with “the left.”

        This argument sags and breaks, like the over laden branch of the cherry blossom tree with the snow fall of truth grasshopper. If public opinion was truly such, then surely Dear Leader Nancy Pelosi would have been able to get her troop withdrawals though.

        >And by the way…Middle Eastern civilization has been an unbroken chain for 8000 years.

        Unbroken? Well, I guess it is unbroken if you forget about the fact that Middle Eastern civilization now is largely theocratically based. That means religion is a big deal there. The fact that their religion was not invented 8000 years ago ( Abraham had not been born, Muhammad was thousands of years off ), and the fact that they spoke an entirely different language, and wrote in an entirely different manner. I guess if you also forget about the fact that sectarian differences about that religion, form the trouble currently going on in Iraq. Well, yes, all that aside, it is unbroken, kinda…..well….sorta……well…. I guess when you actually consider the facts, their civilization isn’t exactly unbroken, other than the people are in the same geographic region. Um…. wait a second, that’s pretty much what I said. Oh well, looks like you are wrong……again.

        >It was not just “A geographic area, having had some sort of society on it at one point”.

        Yah haahhhhhh… Yes it was, read above.

        Why do I all of a sudden feel like today is Friday? Gosh darn it, I’m going to go out and get myself a golden retriever.

        I think Ill tie a scarf around its neck and walk around the park all smiling now, its just that kind of day.

        >Your own ignorance matches our nation’s arrogance in thinking we can “bring civilization” to people who had it long before our own ancestors, including my Greeks.

        My ignorance? About what? You kind of blew it on the civilization thing so why are you calling me ignorant?

        The Ox in the bellows loudly in Mt. Fuji’s valleys. The echo he hears is only the reflection of himself.

        That’s it Mr. Cranky Wanky Dean. You cant come on my walk with me and my golden retriever. No happy Frisbee tosses for you.

        >Which goes a long way to explain why we repeat the mistakes of Viet Nam…namely arrogance in foreign relations.

        Ahhh, blame America first. Always a good fall back. Goes over well at parties. Makes one feel good, superior to the common slob. Relives guilt as well. Serving suggestions:

        Wine – A light Zinfandel.
        Music – Folk, or light jazz
        Lighting – Compact fluorescent.
        Dress – Proletariat wear, the common man, jeans will do in a pinch. Affectation is the key here, to establish superiority, while not dressing the part.
        Pose and demeanor – Concern, hand wringing, a general intellectual sophistication that when facts fail, emotion will do.

        >”I’m big and you’re little
        I’m smart and you’re dumb
        So I’m right and you’re wrong.”

        Not a good basis for starting wars.

        Your facts fail you. We have not started a war in quite a while. Saddam was in violation of his surrender, we enforced it. That’s not starting a war. I would start using emotion, concern and hand wringing right about now.

        • dean

          Rupert…take some time and look things up once in a while.

          The “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” vote:
          House Republicans: 215 Yea, 6 Nay
          House Democrats: 81 Yea, 126 Nay
          Senate Republicans: 48 Yea, 1 Nay
          Senate Democrats: 29 Yea, 21 Nay

          Nearly unanamous? We report….you decide. I suppose it depends on the meaning of nearly, or unanamous. Whatever.

          Yes…we faced Soviet and East block armies off for several decades. Here is a trick question for you. How many casualties did we suffer in that 40 year standoff? (Answer at the end of this post). Is the lesson learned that patience and negotiation is less bloody than actual war? Or should we have nuked them and hoped that at least 2 of us survived (of opposite sex and procreating age).

          You want me and Obama to “take responsibility” for whatever happens in Iraq after our staged withdrawal? Well…if he is elected and if he follows through on that, then as President he will have the responsibility. Of course…what does this really mean? Apparently nothing if President Bush is a guide.

          Maybe mass Sepuku is extreme. But how in the world did the Bush Administration and Congressional enablers manage such a fisaco with no heads rolling at all? Has Bush fired a single employee responsible for decisions in Iraq? Not that I know of. Has he ever said he screwed up? No…not in public. I am touched that you so badly want those opposed to this war from the start…including me and Obama, to take responsibility for it’s outcome. I am puzzled by your lack of assigning any responsibility to the war’s supporters (you) and its architects.

          Pelosi has had few options. She can try to de-fund or wait for 08. Had I been in her shoes I would have called Bush’s bluff when he vetoed the funding bill with the timeline. But she did not choose that path, so we wait for the November 08 decision. The American people do have a choice.

          Yes Rupert…unbroken, continuous civilization,interrupted by frequent war, famine, conquest, slavery, more war, and occasional progress. Semitic speaking people have ruled over the Crescent for thousands of years. The cities there, including Damascus and Bagdad, have been continuously settled all that time. Don’t assume the people there today are not the direct descendents of those from earlier times. What in the world are the Israelis and Arabs fighting over if not the very same turf their very distant relatives fought over?

          And “civilizations” have been “theocratically based” since the beginning. Anu..Enki…Baal…on up to Yaweh and the Lord Jesus. All theocracies trusted in God(s) and look where it got them,right up to the present. California approves gay marriage and God decides to visit floods on the pious Midwest. Go figure.

          “McCain was against the Bush tax breaks.” I love that one Rupert. Yes he was. Before he was for them. And now for more piled on. While he also says we need to stay with the Iraq occupation for however long it takes to glorious victory. Does this add up to seriousness? Taking “responsibility”? I don’t think so.

          It was a “Lib” president who last balanced the budget. And I will bet you a glass of expensive pinot (not a zin fan) it will be a Lib president who next brings the Federal budget to balance. (It certainly won’t be a Republican because we are not likely to see another for a few decades).

          Answer to pop quiz: 44 dead and wounded. An enemy with tens of thousands of warheads, millions of soldiers and way more tanks than us that we faced off for over 40 years under both Democratic and Republican administrations and we lost 32 to combat deaths. Less than 1 per year.

          And in the end the Soviet Union dissolved itself and opened up for business. And back to the original post…we sacrificed 58,209 dead in Nam and they ended up open for business as well. AFTER they (not us) dispatched the Khmer Rouge from Cambodia (Commies killing commies…what kind of world is this anyway?) Which was the better way to go? Doesn’t that make you re-think your beligerant attitude just a bit old boy?

          But no…too much to hope for. Yes yes…Sadam started the war with us. Up is down…black is white. I’m all verklempt.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >take some time and look things up once in a while.

            Dean, you forget, I am usually the one looking things up, and when I do, you never answer, you always veer off on some other zany tangent. Anyway, to address one of your rare look ups:

            >The “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002” vote:

            Well, looks like it wasnt close to unanimous, but it sure was a pretty big margin.

            Huh, weird, and yet when congress authorized Clinton to use force against Saddam, more Dems voted for it and yet the case was weaker. Hypocrisy you say? How dare you.

            >How many casualties did we suffer in that 40 year standoff?

            Boy, I sure wouldn’t advise pursuing this line of logic much further. Troop casualties under Bush during war time are lower than they were during Clinton’s years of avoiding war. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.

            >Is the lesson learned that patience and negotiation is less bloody than actual war?

            Sorry Dean, another dead end. You guys forget that we negotiated with Saddam for years, he kicked out weapons inspectors and did everything in his power to make the world think he had WMD’s. What did it any of that get us?

            We negotiated forever with the North Koreans, now they have the bomb. Thank you UN!

            We are negotiating with the Iranians, they are due to get the bomb.

            Next point?

            >Of course…what does this really mean? Apparently nothing if President Bush is a guide.

            Who is talking about BO? I sure am not. I would like to hear the left, those like you who encourage withdrawal, to for once say, yes, we were wrong, yes, we made a big mistake. Conservatives sure have on Iraq.

            Bill O’Reilly says constantly he supported the war at the outset and now thinks it was a mistake.
            Bill Buckley, same thing.
            Bush? He has admitted he wished he took a different tone, hadn’t said some of the cowboy stuff.

            You guys?

            Forget it. Clinton couldn’t even take responsibility for a Lewinski.

            The Dems in congress who voted for the war? They sure don’t take responsibility, they continue with this line that they were somehow deceived. So much for admitting mistakes.

            Next?

            >Administration and Congressional enablers manage such a fisaco with no heads rolling at all?

            Rumsfeld was forced to resign for his management of the war. That’s a damn site better than Clinton. Hey, remember Waco? Good old Janet, took full responsibility, and stayed on in her job for both terms.

            >Has Bush fired a single employee responsible for decisions in Iraq? Not that I know of.

            Well, I could tell you to look things up, but that would be too easy. Just to clear up since you clearly don’t know, Rumsfeld was secretary of defense.

            >he ever said he screwed up? No…not in public.

            He said quite publicly mistakes were made, that declaring the end of major operations was a mistake, and the cowboy talk was a mistake. Yeesh Dean, you are making this easy. I mean too easy, even for you.

            Look things up.

            >Pelosi has had few options. She can try to de-fund or wait for 08. Had I been in her shoes I would have called Bush’s bluff when he vetoed the funding bill with the timeline.

            Few options? She could cut off funding with a vote, which should be real easy to get a veto proof margin on with this huge 70 – 80% of the public against the war. I mean if one beleives your numbers, I sure dont.

            You would think with the 70% to 80% of the public opposed to the war, getting two thirds in the house and senate would be pretty easy. Guess you have more faith in the poll numbers than Nancy.

            >What in the world are the Israelis and Arabs fighting over if not the very same turf their very distant relatives fought over?

            Oh good lord. Ok, now you are moving into lunacy. It is simply impossible for someone to know this little about the region.

            Are you now saying the Israelis and the Arabs were fighting 8000 years ago?

            News flash, check the Jewish calendar. We are no where near the year 8000.

            >And “civilizations” have been “theocratically based” since the beginning. Anu..Enki…Baal…on up to Yaweh and the Lord Jesus.

            Learn to read. God god man learn to read and form a cogent point. I wasn’t saying a theocracy voided the possibility of a civilization. That was eminently clear. For Gods sake.

            >”McCain was against the Bush tax breaks.” I love that one Rupert. Yes he was.

            Ok, whew, finally you got something right.

            >Before he was for them. And now for more piled on. While he also says we need to stay with the Iraq occupation for however long it takes to glorious victory. Does this add up to seriousness? Taking “responsibility”? I don’t think so.

            Well the problem is your assumption, that tax breaks lead to a reduction in revenue. Sorry they don’t, they generally lead to increased revenue.

            Obama on the other hand wants to increase capitol gains taxes. Even though it was pointed out to him by Charlie Gibson on national television that this would lead to reduced revenues he still stuck with it. Yet another Obama “uh…uh….uh” moment. It was entertaining though.

            Houston, we have a problem

            Roger that, working on your problem,

            ….. we advise at this time you express concern, hand wringing, talk about justice, not revenues, fairness, basic dignity.\

            >It was a “Lib” president who last balanced the budget.

            No it wasn’t, The budget wasn’t balanced in 1994 and Clinton had expressed no interest in doing so, he wanted to expand government up until that point.
            When the Republicans took over congress Clinton sent up budgets with $300bil. deficits as far as the eye could see. Clinton had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cut anything, Remember welfare reform, he signed it, but not without a whole lot of pressure.

            Next?

            >It certainly won’t be a Republican because we are not likely to see another for a few decades

            Dream on. Let’s face it, we both know Obama should be walking away with this one. A sluggish economy, an uncertain war outcome at best, high gas prices. How you guys can have all that going for you and have barely a single digit lead in the polls is beyond me.

            >Less than 1 per year.

            Hey, that’s pretty good.

            Oh well, not a big deal in any event. If you guys were really concerned about military deaths you would have been all pissed off at Clinton, when more were dying at peace time than are dying now in war time.

            >And in the end the Soviet Union dissolved itself and opened up for business.

            Dissolved itself? Guess you are not acquainted with two fellas by the name of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul 2.

            >Doesn’t that make you re-think your beligerant attitude just a bit old boy?

            Belligerent attitude? How so? I agreed with your plan to withdraw, asked you to take responsibility for your actions and you called me ignorant because you were wrong about uninterrupted civilization in Iraq. How is that belligerent on my part?

            Uh oh, do we need a refresher course on the meaning of the word “belligerent” as well as “civilization” now? Looks like we need a spell check on it to say the least.

            >And back to the original post…we sacrificed 58,209 dead in Nam and they ended up open for business as well. AFTER they (not us) dispatched the Khmer Rouge from Cambodia (Commies killing commies…what kind of world is this anyway?

            Oh my God. Ok, now this is way way too funny. You seem totally oblivious that the entire Vietnam situation was a proxy war, even after we left. The Vietnamese were supported by Russia, The Khmer Rouge by China. The Vietnamese killing the Khmer Rouge was mostly due to the fact that the Vietnamese cant stand China. I really hope you arent operating under the assumption that the Vietnam War was about just about North and South Vietnam.

            The really great part is what happened after the Vietnames left Cambodia? Chaos. Who did the UN give money to to bring stability? The Khmer Rouge with Pol Pot on the UN payroll.

            Now thats some real creative negotiatin’!

            >Sadam started the war with us.

            Obviously you are unaware of what operating under the terms of a surrender means.

  • wookie

    Excellent!

    It’s nice to know that among the folks who post here are those who want my family to be murdered solely because I express my views in this space. Glad to know there are no barriers to entry here.

    When you let loose with the contents of your nasty soul in this manner, you simply demonstrate how totally marginal your opinions are. Anyone want to defend this kind of thinking?

    By the way, Rupert, in case you were wondering, the dissimilarity between the current occupation of Iraq and the occupations of Japan and Germany after World War Two (where the local populace cooperated with American soldiers engaged in the occupation) was dissected in an article by several prominent historians of that conflict in an article in the New York Times several months ago. I know, I know, the Times has no credibility. Unlike, for example, the Washington Times, owned by the Good Reverent Moon.

    Remember – we prosecuted and severely punished (I believe with execution) Japanese officers for approving waterboarding of American detainees during the War. Does that tell anyone anything relevant about the current situation? Or are you too committed to defending the indefensible? My dad fought in that War in the Pacific theater, and were he alive today he would no sooner defend torture of detainees than he would fail to salute the American flag. Is political party loyalty more important than commitment to human decency?

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >By the way, Rupert, in case you were wondering, the dissimilarity between the current occupation of Iraq and the occupations of Japan and Germany

      Nope, wasn’t wondering at all. I was dismissing your dismissal of my view without backing it up with any reasoning.

      Historians can have different view points. There was also a major news article a year or so into Iraq that noted the similarities, and even quoted some Life magazine articles showing that our soldiers were not well received in all areas of the theater at WW2’s end, much like we were facing in Iraq at that time. So, you can pick your historians, I will pick mine. Big whoop.

      My point was this war might very well take too long for the MTV mindset some seem to have. Two or three years in John Kerry was calling this a quagmire during the 2004 election lead up. We were in Europe for half a century. Some seem to have lost that perspective. Thats all I was saying.

      Nice diss with the Mooney paper thing. It sure doesn’t work to well when you preface your comment at being annoyed at the lack of civility from others, yet apparently you are free to act as you please.

      >Remember – we prosecuted and severely punished (I believe with execution) Japanese officers for approving waterboarding of American detainees during the War.

      American detainees?

      What is that? Does that mean you aren’t sure if the “detainees” were POW’s or not?

      Look, no one is arguing for waterboarding POW’s. I certainly am not.

      Unlawful combatant’s, different thing. I have zero problem with waterboarding Zarqawi, who I think is the only identified individual that the government has publically said was waterboarded. I am sure there have been others, but since I don’t know who they are, I can hardly say whether it was justified or not. Zarqawi was clearly not a POW and frankly I think a 30 second waterboarding, to get what he knew, is something most would not have an issue with. I sure don’t.

      • dean

        Rupert…you amaze me. Really. You take it to a masterful level.

        “Troop casualties under Bush during war time are lower than they were during Clinton’s years of avoiding war. Trust me, you don’t want to go there.”

        No Rupert…I really do want to go there. I’d like to see your data on this one. My data (from the US Department of Defense, but what do they know that you don’t) says we had 29 casualties in Somalia in 92-93, 1 casualty in Haiti in 94, and 1 in Bosnia in 95. 19 were killed at the Khobar Towers in 96, and 17 on the Cole in 2000. A total of 67 Clinton Presidency combat or terrorist related military deaths. In the current and ongoing Iraq war we are at 4101, with 517 having died to date in Afganistan, for 4618 total. So tell me what other troops died under Clinton’s watch that DOD and I missed?

        We “negotiated” with Saddam for years? Again…please explain? What ambassador did Bush send over there, and what was negotiated? He kicked out the weapons inspectors. Then he let them back in again and they found zilch. They asked for more time and Bush said no…I’ve got a war to get on with. Sorry. Or maybe he didn’t say sorry. Anyway Rumsfeld knew where the WMDs were buried, and Powell knew where the mobile weapons labs were, and so forth. We sure knew a lot didn’t we?

        We are “negotiating” with the Iranians? Funny…I thought we weren’t because that would be “appeasement.” I thought the Europeans (those panty-waists) are doing the talking while we do the threatening.

        I suspect the problem is that I and many other people believe “negotiation” means “a process where 2 or more parties resolve disputes, agree upon courses of action, bargain for individual or collective advantage, and/or attempt to craft outcomes which serve their mutual interests.” I did not know it meant “do what we say or we will bomb you.”

        I overstated the 80% upper end on Iraq. Its more like 70%. A recent CBS poll found that:
        3% say pull all troops out immediately
        42% say out within a year
        21% say take 1-2 years (I’m in that group)
        9% say take 2-5 years
        1% says take 5-10 years
        20% are with you, Bush and McCain. As long as it takes.As many tours of duty of others. As many deaths, broken bodies, damaged minds, fortunes spent. Whatever it takes to avoid admitting the error (not just admitting poor use of words) and moving on.

        A veto proof majority means enough obstinate Republicans would have to abandon ship. They are not there yet, in spite of the sandberg their ship has beached upon. November 08 will see a lot of bodies in the water, and they won’t be Democrats who want us backing our way out of Iraq.

        Obama will win going away unless the Rs can pull off the scary black guy routine for one last encore. It could happen, and Lord knows they are trying. But you should be the one wondering how it is that an inexperienced mixed race intellectual with a terrorist sounding name who likes arugula is polling ahead of a formerly very popular war hero and Senate leader who the media adores and has been a fixture on TV news shows week after week for 8 long years. I know McCain is wondering.

        I’ll give you a hint. Two 4 letter words. First starts with I and ends in Q. Not many words fit that description. Second starts with B and ends with H, and just about anything associated with him.

        So…Ronald Reagan and the Popester “dissolved the Soviet Union?” I missed that event. I was busy watching Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But I’m eager to hear your story sometime.

        My use of “belligerent’ was meant as: “characteristic of one eager to fight.” Or in your case…eager to send others to fight on money borrowed from our kids. I did not mean belligerent towards me. You are ever the gentleman debater.

        I’m oblivious that Viet Nam was a “proxy war?” Maybe that is because in a “proxy war” each main party finds 2 other minor parties to fight in their place. Maybe the Soviets did their part, though I suspect the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were fighting in their own cause not that of the Soviets. But somehow we managed to become our own proxies, meaning that for us it was most definitely not a “proxy” war. Otherwise 58,029 Americans would have lived on. You need a new theory on that war. Proxy it was not…by definition. Look it up.

        On taxes…Clinton raised them when he had a Democratic Congress. The economy boomed, spending was restrained (bipartisan agreements) and the Reagan-Bush 1 deficit closed. Bush 2 cut taxes, and with the same Republican dominated Congress balooned the deficits back up, even while taking much of the war spending off the books. You can re-interpret history Rupert, but you can’t just make up your own facts.

        Cut taxes….grow economy…close deficits. Right. You seem to be the last person who believes in “supply side economics.” Certainly no reputable economist does, not even Arthur Laffer, the guy who supposedly made it up (only he didn’t). The key point missed by you and Bush and now McCain being that elasticities of supply and demand are variable from one economy to the next, and one generation to the next. If you find the sweet spot between taxation and economic growth you win by maximizing ggrowth and tax revenue, but only for a while, until things change. If not, which is more likely, you just have deficits and increased inequality. Econ 101. Supply side economics is half-baked social engineering, not serious economic policy.

        Your comments on detainees, waterboarding, and so forth are just too depressing to take on. You, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest who think and act as you do should pray that we liberals are right and there is no eternal hell after death. Maybe just a mild scolding from a loving or indifferent deity too busy with galactic traffic management to pay attention to human affairs on one tiny little, insignificant planet.

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >>You, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest who think and act as you do should pray that we liberals are right and there is no eternal hell after death.

          I’ve always said that if Republicans want to shove their morality down everyone’s throat in the bedroom, liberals want to do the same in every other facet of ones life. You guys always bear a striking resemblance to the red faced bible thumper on the corner. This really confirms it. You have always said you hear voices, whistle sounds, like when Reagan was speaking. I guess now we know where they are coming from. Glad to hear of your personal hotline with God.

          Yes, I’m going to hell because I don’t believe as Dean does.

          Ok – Great. Do you have any further methods to make yourself more absurd, or have we reached the zenith of that endevour at this point?

          • dean

            Rupert…the “morality” of not torturing sentient animals and people is something I and most people learned at the age of about 3. I don’t think this moral lesson is dependent on religion, though I suspect most major religions have something to say on this subject as well. “Do unto others” for a start.

            I claim no hot line to God. Torturing is a crime against humanity that should be prosecuted in this lifetime. If you think that law that represents the shoving my morality down your throat….then fine. It is what it is. But “conservatism” used to mean, among other things respect for the law. Not selecting which law to follow and which to ignore. Of course, “conservatism” also once meant fiscal responsibility, but never mind about that one either.

            By the way…I meant to write “secular” liberals in my earlier post. There are an increasing number of God fearing liberals who do believe in eternal hell, increasing in large part because of the mutton pie your team has made of things.

  • JAC

    My new bumper sticker:

    Help support a lower standard of living
    and demise of civilization:

    VOTE DEMOCRAT

  • Rupert in Springfield

    how about:

    “Like Global Warming? Then you will love how hot it is in HELL, Vote Republican”

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Claiming some knowledge of whether or not I will go to hell based upon my support for waterboarding Zarqawi is claiming a direct line to either God or Satan. That’s was the direct meaning of what you wrote and that’s what I find inane and bible thumping.

    At any rate, I am glad you rose to the occasion and surpassed yourself. I always had faith.

    You aren’t the first to consider me absolutely evil and you certainly wont be the last. My parents were secular Liberals and they were quite convinced of it. But that’s been a Long, Long, Long Time. Who knows if it will come true, as we all know who has the answer to that question. Its coming down fast but its miles above you, that’s for sure.

    Come on tell me, tell me the answer
    Well you may be a lover but you aint no dancer.

    • dean

      Relax Rupert. I don’t believe in a hell or a heavan, so I’m not claiming any knowledge of who gets to go somewhere I don’t think exists. But given your position on torture, you should hope I am right on this point. I just can’t believe Jesus would look too kindly on those who commit, condone, or support torture.

      I don’t know you, and do not consider you “absolutely evil.” I don’t even feel that way about your boy President Bush. I do think some people, and you appear to be among them, have cast aside some important aspects of basic humanity in favor of experdiency motivated by fear, and this is unfortunate.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Relax? I am relaxed, you are the one so worked up you now know the judgment of God. What sort of nonsense is this relax routine?

    You don’t believe in hell, because it doesn’t exist.

    But if there is a hell, then you know who decides who goes there, Jesus.

    We don’t know if you believe in Jesus or not

    Regardless of his existence, you know what he thinks about waterboarding

    You also know his opinion regarding my opinion on its use on one individual, Zarqawi for 30 seconds.

    I think the message I am taking away from this is two fold.

    First of all, I am now convinced more than ever of the hazards of smoking marijuana.

    Second, Having hotline to Jesus is one thing. Having a hotline to Jesus to talk about a place you don’t even think exists is really ludicrous.

    I know what God thinks
    I know what God loves
    I know that your bad
    I know that I’m good.

    I’m just so beautiful
    I know that I’m the best
    I know who goes to hell
    Its not me but all the rest.

    Boy you put me in such a rhyming and alluding mood. Guess that’s why your Dean and I’m Satan.

    • dean

      Rupert…are you now saying that you don’t support torture, except in the case of one individual for 30 seconds? If that is true, then have you been reading anything about the Senate investigation that has revealed the systematic use of abuse and torture that started well before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo….and that the orders came from the top? Yet Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their sycophants hung a few non-coms out to dry because they were the ones caught in those disgusting photos. These macho men who were too busy to go to glorius war when they had the chance hid behind Lynndie England’s skirts for God’s sake. They send out orders to torture and then they hide. This all is of no concern to you? As an American citizen? As a human being?

      I’m not auditioning to be your spiritual conselor, but If this is the case then you need to schedule a long deep look into your soul Rupert. There may not be life after death, but you are still relatively young. You could still redeem your own humanity by finding a kernal or 2 left to nurture over the time you have left.Maybe this will stimulate you to buy a Christmas goose for a poor working class family with a crippled child as atonement.

      And I am not being facetious or snarky. I’m serious. Its not about dunking some dude’s head under water for 30 seconds. Don’t make light of what was done with your tax money in your name by people you supported and apparently continue to support. Don’t blow this off with self-congratulating cleverness.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >I’m not auditioning to be your spiritual conselor, but If this is the case then you need to schedule a long deep look into your soul Rupert. There may not be life after death, but you are still relatively young. You could still redeem your own humanity by finding a kernal or 2 left to nurture over the time you have left.Maybe this will stimulate you to buy a Christmas goose for a poor working class family with a crippled child as atonement.

    I need to take a long deep look into my soul because I don’t think waterboarding Zarqawi was a big deal?

    And you aren’t auditioning as my spiritual counselor?

    You know, you bible thumpers always are so pompous.

    And just for the record.

    I think leading guys around by a leash, putting a bag over their head, or making them form a nude pyramid isn’t torture. Something that could be normal fair at some of our more flamboyant bars could hardly be said to be torture. Its degrading, and probably revolting, depending upon whatever physical shape the specimens that form the nude pyramid are in, but it isn’t torture. Frankly all this sturm and drang over how horrible and egregious the Abu Graib stuff was is really getting a little much. It was stupid, but it was not torture. It was hardly this big whoop de do crime against humanity.

    There.

    Everyone thinks it. I said it. Too bad. Nude pyramids aren’t torture.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >And I am not being facetious or snarky. I’m serious. Its not about dunking some dude’s head under water for 30 seconds.

    For the record, don’t go on with me about what waterboarding is and is not. I have fully researched it and actually have volunteered for it. So, get off of it with your BS about my soul.

    Who’s being facetous and snarky. I am simply saying I detest others trying to shove their morality down my throat based upon some sort of extended calling plan they have with Jesus.

    Love you – Satan

    • dean

      Okay Rupert…you and what’s left of your soul can go your snarky way unmolested. But I’ll ask you to read the news article on the link below. If you don’t give a spit about the ethics of torture…fine. Maybe you will care about the pragmatic consequences.

      https://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07294/826876-35.stm

  • Rupert in Springfield

    I never said I don’t care about the ethics of torture, I simply don’t agree with yours.

    Your big mistake in all of this is your assumption that your ethics are the only truth and that violation of them constitutes an evil person who is going to hell.

    The obvious conclusion is we now know why you have such sympathies with terrorists, you think just like them.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Oh, and by the way, pointing out the logical fallacies in your argument is not snarky. Being so annoyed at having those fallacies pointed out your only answer is “well, you are going to hell” maybe is.

    • dean

      Rupert…it is not about “my ethics.” I am talking about commonly held ethics that reject torture. Humans are not perfect and screw up…i.e. a guard abusing a prisoner. But systematic, government sanctioned, popularly supported torture is beyond the pale both nationally and internationally, which is why we tried Nazis and Japanese military leaders for war crimes. This is what has been done (same techniques we prosecuted others for) by our government with our tax money in our name, and you choose to blow it off. You flip out over taxes as personal opression, yet on this core issue about abuse of government power you don’t care. I find that truly astounding.

      Torture is a violation of long standing American law, It is a violation of international law. It violates our military code. It is morally and ethically wrong. It doesn’t work in terms of gaining reliable information. And it is counter productive by hardening enemies adn increasing their numbers. It is not just Dean’s opinion here.

      You have not pointed out a single logical fallacy in any of my arguments on this topic. You misconstrue, cherry pick, and misprepresent. You know I am not a “Bible thumper,” yet you choose that pejorative for what purpose other than deflection? You now make a claim that I “think just like” terrorists. Where you got that is a mystery…but then so much is.

      Did you read the link I sent? Please at least skim it and give it some objective thought before you respond again with another bizarre assertion.

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