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The same people who have been comparing Iraq to Vietnam for years are now babbling incoherently, because of President Bush's comparing the Vietnam and Iraq wars.
Thanks to the economic news, it's been a long time since I've commented on the clown circus in Washington, and this story provides an interesting opportunity.
The lead headline, in big, bold letters at the top-right of Page One of Thursday's Boston Globe was: "President compares Vietnam, Iraq wars".
Wow! That must have been some speech to make it far and away the most important news story in the world! Where's Paris Hilton when you need her?
As usual, almost everything said by both sides was completely wrong, since the Vietnam and Iraq wars have nothing in common except that they're both wars, but it's been a while since I've commented on the clown circus in Washington, so this is an opportunity.
I had expected Bush's speech to be purely political, but when I read the full text of the speech I found it to be VERY interesting because it presents a very good historical summary of the neo-conservative position. I'll get back to it later, but here are the paragraphs that seems to be drawing the most babbling from so-called antiwar Democrats:
The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.
Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. ... Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like "boat people," "re-education camps," and "killing fields."
Brookings Institution does a full reversal on Iraq war: As Americans withdraw from cities, Brookings admits there's no civil war.... (1-Jul-2009)
Stock markets in Iraq and Iran are surging.: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "it is the end of capitalism."... (17-Oct-2008)
On "60 Minutes," Bob Woodward makes ridiculous claims about Iraq.: He says the surge succeeded because of some magic new military technique.... (7-Sep-2008)
Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr turns from arms to "culture": This follows several Sunni "Tribal Awakenings" to expel al-Qaeda.... (10-Aug-2008)
Obama continues to damage his candidacy with his Iraq policy.: Obama is hurting himself by bobbing and weaving on the success of the "surge."... (27-Jul-2008)
The new Iraqi "civil war" fizzles out, as expected: Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a cease-fire on Sunday,... (1-Apr-08)
The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.: On the first anniversary of the successful "surge" strategy,... (17-Feb-08)
Casualties are down sharply in Iraq.: This issue has been a spectacular validation of Generational Dynamics theory.... (31-Oct-07)
As Turkey prepares to invade northern Iraq, it's isolating itself internationally: A new "Young Turks revolution" is reestablishing strong Turkish nationalism.... (29-Oct-07)
Washington Post says that al-Qaeda in Iraq is "crippled": Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens' political opposition to America is growing.... (16-Oct-07)
Antiwar Democrats are freaking out over Bush's Vietnam - Iraq war comparison.: The same people who have been comparing Iraq to Vietnam for years... (24-Aug-07)
Iraq: Suicide bombers interrupt celebrations in Baghdad over soccer win: Iraq's stunning 4-3 soccer victory over South Korea in the Asia Cup semi-final... (26-Jul-07)
The al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq, is bombed again: Last year's bombing triggered months of vicious sectarian violence in Baghdad,... (14-Jun-07)
Congress votes to fund Iraq war without deadlines: The result shows conflicting anxieties during America's Crisis era.... (24-May-07)
Senator Joe Biden wants to move troops from Iraq to Darfur civil war: Saying on Meet the Press that we should remove troops from Iraqi "civil war,"... (29-Apr-07)
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq: In an interview that appeared on CNN on Sunday,... (24-Apr-07)
BBC kills an Iraqi war story because it's "too positive": But a drama showing British troops brutalizing civilians is perfectly fine.... (11-Apr-07)
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites protest against American "occupiers": In what appeared to be a grand, party-like atmosphere,... (10-Apr-07)
Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr tells followers to attack Americans, not each other: This could be good news.... (9-Apr-07)Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq : This is exactly the kind of thing that generational theory predicts. (1-Apr-2007)
New optimistic poll of Iraqi people barely mentioned on Sunday TV news shows: And Bob Shieffer on CBS's "Face the Nation" asked really dumb questions of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.... (19-Mar-07)
Robert Gates on "civil war" in Iraq.: Following the release of the Iraq National Intelligence Estimate on Friday,... (2-Feb-07)
News as theatre: NBC announces it will call Iraq war a "civil war": On Monday morning on the "Today Show,"... (29-Nov-06)
President Bush's reference to Vietnam War "Tet Offensive" has journalists in a tizzy: Airhead journalists have completely missed the point, and the real danger.... (20-Oct-06)
Learning-disabled journalists and politicians continue to predict Iraq civil war: Occasionally journalists take a break from their heavy-breathing over Congressional pages,... (8-Oct-06)
General John Abizaid says there'll be no troop cutbacks in Iraq: This is hardly a surprise to me, though not for the reasons most people give.... (19-Sep-06)
Debate over civil war in Iraq rages over semantics: An actual crisis civil war in Iraq is impossible, but it's now embroiled in the November elections,... (23-Aug-06)Washington becomes hysterical again over an Iraqi 'civil war' : A civil war in Iraq is impossible, as I've said many times, because only one generation has passed since the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Here's some additional historical information. (7-Aug-2006)
Israel's war against Hizbollah and Lebanon forces Muslims to choose sides : The war is part of a larger Shi'ite-Sunni struggle, and a stopgap ceasefire will create a worsening environment leading to a much more chaotic situation within a few months (25-Jul-2006)
Speculations about a stock market panic and crash : Will there be a stock market panic next week, next month, or next year, and will it lead to a crash? We speculate on some possibilities. (31-May-2006)
Journalists have a 'civil war in Iraq' orgy over the weekend: It's hard to remember when news shows had so much sheer non-stop nonsense... (21-Mar-06)
I just heard on CNN International: "The threat of civil war in Iraq is over.": Surprise! Surprise! The press corps was 100% wrong, and I was right.... (28-Feb-06)
Fear of Iraqi civil war nears hysteria: But there is NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER of a civil war.... (24-Feb-06)
Bombing of 1200 year old Shi'ite mosque inflames Iraq to the verge of massive civil war rhetoric: Shi'ites conducted over 90 revenge attacks on Sunni shrines on Wednesday,... (23-Feb-06)
Vitriolic Iraq war politics erupts in Washington: But the basics of the Iraq war haven't changed a bit.... (21-Nov-05)
After President Bush's speech: What next for Iraq?: With growing insurgency violence and flagging public support, what's America's "end strategy" in Iraq?... (1-Jul-05)
Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite clerics call for restraint: Analysts, pundits and journalists are still predicting civil war, and they're still getting it wrong.... (23-May-05)
The chaotic Iraq election is only two days away: The election is on Sunday, January 30, and no one has a clue what's going to happen.... (28-Jan-05)
Brent Scowcroft predicts an "incipient civil war" for Iraq: Pundits are returning to wishful thinking as the January 30 election approaches... (09-Jan-05)Can we withdraw from Iraq in 2005?: Suddenly the Washington buzz is that whoever wins - Bush or Kerry - will begin to withdraw American troops from Iraq. We look at two historical examples to predict scenarios. (16-Oct-2004)
Fallujans are getting angry with insurgents: Just a few hours after my posting that al-Zarqawi's most formidable enemy may be the 40-50 year old mothers of Fallujah,... (13-Oct-04)
Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia fighters turn in their weapons: The war in Iraq took a significant turn this week when the Shi'ite militias agreed to disarm,... (13-Oct-04)
The press is talking about another "uprising" in Iraq. Yawn.: Nothing shows more how clueless the press is about what's going on in Iraq than this constant talk about civil war and uprisings.... (7-Aug-04)Iraq Today vs 1960s America (Revised): They have much in common: Bombings, assassinations, student demonstrations, violent riots, calls for insurrection and civil war and harsh rhetoric. That's much more than a coincidence. (8-May-2004)
What Iraqi Civil War?: Early in 2003, I predicted that there would be no popular uprising against the Americans, and that there would be no civil war. After the overthrow of Saddam, I said that an Iraqi civil war was impossible. Despite the constant near-hysteria of the politicians, journalists and high-priced analysts, I've been right so far. Here's why. (09-Apr-04)
Anti-Shi'ite Terror Attacks in Iraq, Pakistan: So far, Sunni and Shi'ite leaders in Iraq aren't taking the bait. (2-Mar-04)
Terrorist suicide bombings in Iraq may backfire against terrorists: During an awakening period, terrorist acts cause masses of people to shrink from more violence. (19-Aug-03)
Now all of this is perfectly correct. In fact, at the time of the genocidal massacre in Cambodia, leftists like Jane Fonda and William Kunstler were cheering the massacre on because the massacre was being perpetrated by their beloved Communists. "I would never criticize anything that a Socialist government did," said Kunstler. And earlier, Fonda had visited Hanoi and sided with the Communists against America.
So President Bush is shoving all this back in their faces, as well he should. These people have been anti-American jackasses most of their lives, and still are today.
However, it isn't true that Bush has "rejected the comparison" for years, as the Globe article claimed.
Last October, President Bush compared what al-Qaeda in Iraq was doing to the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War. That comparison caused a press tizzy similar to the one going on right now, but see that article for a Generational Dynamics analysis of why that comparison fails.
Furthermore, the antiwar Democrats have been comparing the Iraq war to the Vietnam war all along.
For example, Senator Ted Kennedy compared the Iraq war to Vietnam War in a January speech demanding total withdrawal. Kennedy said the following:
'It became clear that if we were prepared to stay the course, we could help lay the cornerstone for a diverse and independent region.
If we faltered, the forces of chaos would smell victory, and decades of strife and aggression would stretch endlessly before us. The choice was clear. We would stay the course, and we shall stay the course.'
That's not President Bush speaking; it's Lyndon Johnson speaking, 40 years ago, ordering 100,000 more American soldiers to Vietnam."
This is an interesting comparison. What Kennedy didn't mention is the point that Bush just made: After America withdrew, there was a huge genocidal war engulfing the entire region, with millions of people killed in Vietnam, and then in the "killing fields" of Cambodia.
So the question arises: Will a similar genocide occur if America withdraws from Iraq? I've answered this question many times, and won't repeat the whole thing here; there's a good summary in the article on Ted Kennedy's speech from which I just quoted.
There are some importants to remember with the Iraq war versus Vietnam war:
When you look at the long history of Vietnam from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's easy to see how the 1960s-70s war had to do with events that were launched centuries ago.
North and South Vietnam have had different ethnic origins, with North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) originally populated by ethnic Chinese, and South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences have resulted in one crisis war after another over the centuries.
The major one occurred in 1471, when the (North) Vietnamese invaded Champa (in the South), captured its capital of Vijaya and massacred thousands of its people, effectively ending the existence of Champa kingdom. The next crisis war, in 1545, partitioned Vietnam into North and South again, until the Tay-son rebellion of 1771-1790, resulting in a united Vietnam for the first time in 200 years.
During the Awakening era in the early 1800s, cultural development blossomed, making it the high point of literary culture in Vietnamese history. Thanks to the French, Christianity bloomed, with hundreds of thousands of Catholic conversions from Confucianism and Buddhism. However, as the unraveling era arrived (1850s-70s), Ember Tu-Duc relentlessly suppressed Christianity, sanctioning thousands of executions.
This led to the French conquest of Indochina, in a crisis war from 1865-1885.
In the Awakening era that followed, 1904 saw the formation of the Duy Tan Hoi revolutionary (anti-colonial) society. 1908 - student uprising in Hanoi. 1925 Ho Chi Minh forms the Revolutionary Youth League. (In 1920, Ho had been in France, where he took part in the founding of the French Communist Party.) During WW II, Ho formed the Viet Minh political / relief organization, for people starving to death thanks to confiscation of goods by the occupying Japanese.
Thus, what we call the Vietnam War was simply the next step, lasting from 1954-1974. First, human wave assaults defeated a French encampment at Dien Bien Phu caused French to withdraw. America sent advisors to Saigon to help the South Vietnamese. The Americans supported the South Vietnamese through the North-South civil war that finally ended with the North's victory in 1974.
The point is that almost any comparison that can be made is irrelevant unless it recognizes those long-established ethnic fault lines and previous crisis wars between North and South.
So, with that background, let's take a look at excerpts from the text of President Bush's speech. It's a very interesting summary of the neo-conservative position, and once you apply generational theory to it, you see why it's completely wrong.
If this story sounds familiar, it is -- except for one thing. The enemy I have just described is not al Qaeda, and the attack is not 9/11, and the empire is not the radical caliphate envisioned by Osama bin Laden. Instead, what I've described is the war machine of Imperial Japan in the 1940s, its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and its attempt to impose its empire throughout East Asia.
This is a very interesting comparison, because it compares two times when America was in a generational Crisis era (WW II and today), and two enemies who were also in a Crisis eras: the Japanese then, and al-Qaeda today.
It's not surprising that the Japanese at that time and al-Qaeda today act similarly, since that's how people in Crisis eras act, especially young people when they hate a certain enemy.
The lesson from Asia's development is that the heart's desire for liberty will not be denied. Once people even get a small taste of liberty, they're not going to rest until they're free. Today's dynamic and hopeful Asia -- a region that brings us countless benefits -- would not have been possible without America's presence and perseverance.
The view of Bush and the neocons has been that by fighting in Iraq, the country will be tranformed into a free democracy, as happened in Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries. (They would also point to Germany and Italy for the same purpose.)
I've briefly reviewed the history of Vietnam in this article, but I don't have time today to do the same for all the other countries mentioned. Each country has its own fault lines, its own hatreds, and its own blossomings. When you try to create historical analogies between different countries, it's almost impossible unless you know what you're doing.
What ties all these countries and all other countries together is generational timelines. Each country has a genocidal crisis war every 70-90 years, and Awakening eras halfway between the crisis wars.
This happens whether or not the country's government is a democracy, a monarchy, a dictatorship, or some other form of government.
However, there's another important point: Dictatorships and controlled
economies don't work for long. It's easy to prove, using the
mathematics of Computation and Complexity Theory, that controlled,
regulated economies only work for relatively small populations. As
the population grows, the number of "regulators" grows exponentially
faster than the population, and so either the government regulates
less or it collapses. That's why the countries of North Korea, Cuba,
East Germany and Russia were all stuck in the 1950s for decades under
communism. Capitalism and freedom are not so much ideologies as
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