Vietwrong

To be blunt, I was bored rigid by recent blogosphere discussions about whether Iraq could validly be characterised as America’s latter-day Vietnam. But Laurie Oakes’ column in this week’s Bulletin seems to me to sum up the situation as succinctly as anything I’ve seen. Here’s the money passage:

All that being said, it is too early to conclude that Latham is on a loser with his decision to tackle John Howard head-on over Iraq and the alliance. He is gambling on continuing chaos in Iraq and a rapid deterioration in public support for the coalition’s role there. This is where comparison with Vietnam may be relevant. “Militarily there are few similarities,” says a Labor elder statesman. “But the politics of the situation make a compelling comparison. Domestic US politics had a profound effect on what happened in Vietnam, and the same could happen this time.” Supporters of US policy produce impressive evidence of progress. But what the public sees in the US, Britain and Australia is death and destruction, explosions and kidnappings.

In Latham’s view of the world, there is no connection between Iraq and terrorism. “The conflict in Iraq has diverted resources from the real war against terror,” he told the Lowy Institute. It may be true despite claims by Bush and British PM Tony Blair to the contrary that the original invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist threat but what is happening now has everything to do with it. Al Qaeda has moved in to exploit the situation. An Iraq that became a failed state would be a terrorist haven. No one could deny that a loss of nerve by the Americans and their allies would provide great encouragement to Osama bin Laden and his ilk. While a Vietnam-type outcome in Iraq might help the likes of Latham politically, the consequences do not really bear thinking about.

I had been seriously pondering making a definite decision to vote Labor at the next federal election after Latham’s impressive first few months as Leader. But his stupidly stubborn announced policy of withdrawing Australian troops by Christmas, irrespective of the security situation in Iraq, has caused me to re-evaluate. I couldn’t possibly vote for a party with such an irresponsible, isolationist policy stance. Nor could I in conscience vote for the Coalition while John Howard remains at the helm, and I never have and never will vote for the Dimocrats or Greens in the Lower House.

At the moment it’s looking like an informal vote, effected by scrawling “Youse are all a bunch of useless cunts” across the ballot paper in crayon. Childish? You bet. But very satisfying. Do they have bumper stickers reading “Don’t blame me. I voted Informal”?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“”Youse are all a bunch of useless cunts” across the ballot paper in crayon. Childish? You bet. But very satisfying.”

You are easily satisfied, Ken. The only people to read it will be the polling booth workers and the scrutineers. Presumably, though they might be well useless cunts themselves, they will realise that the message is intended for different useless cunts, but the message will not be passed on.

What if Latham proves himself to be a useful cunt before the election? Will you then vote Labor?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Dave,

Yes.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

Why, merely because the consequences of failure in Iraq are unthinkable does that make them impossible? Is the best policy really to continue with a strategy that is patently failing because it is painful to think about doing anything else? Or are we just going to hear more about cannot be imagined?

David Tiley
2022 years ago

They are not unthinkable at all. They happened in Iran. The only “unthinkable bit” is the spectacle of the Americans adjusting to an outcome they will see as catastrophic.

At the time, I will agree with them because it will be.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Gee. My apologies for boring you rigid. I guess I should stick to fashion tips :)

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Ooh, touchy!! Fashion tips for terrorists? Che Guevara fatigues and a little cocktail frock? Actually, it’s the whole topic that’s tiresome, and my reaction reflects precisely your own approach to it. I liked what you had to say, and I like Laurie Oakes’ take as well; you both dealt sensibly with a topic that bores me rigid. There, do we all feel better now?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“do we all feel better now?”

It depends. Are you planning any more romantic interludes on croc-infested beaches?

James Russell
2022 years ago

Dave, the whole point of writing “Youse are all a bunch of useless cunts” on the ballot paper isn’t to send a message to the useless cunts on the ballot paper or even to give the scrutineers a few seconds of amusement, it’s to give you the voter personal private satisfaction. I can only presume you’ve never rocked up at the booth on voting day and found yourself staring blankly at the ballot paper, wondering who the fuck all the people on it are let alone why you should vote for any of them, before finally realising that it doesn’t matter who you pick cos any one of them’ll ultimately prove to be as bad and unworthy as any other of them and in the long run it won’t make a fucking bit of difference so you may as well just take the time to write the word “cunt” next to each of their names. If you don’t get that feeling, if you manage to turn up at the voting booth feeling like what you’re doing that day has the potential to make a difference somehow, then I envy you greatly cos it’s been a lot of years since I felt that way.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

“I was bored rigid …”

How reactionary Ken? Is it because the terms of the debate are so untterly stupid? Is the Vietnam war the same as the Iraq war? No. The invadees are different countries, the US invaded in different years, for US invasions with justified with different words. Doh. How banal is it really, finally possible to be? In tactical/strategic terms, wars are as comparable and contrastable as rugby games. The idea that it is ‘either exactly the same as, or not’ is just so unbelievably idiotic, that I’d be bored rigid too..

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Okay. Vietnam and Iraq are both rugby. WW2 was soccer. The main difference being that the rules of the special rugby game we are talking about make it very very hard for the US to win, while the rules of that particular soccer game were weighted towards them..

I hope that bit of analysis (which is a pretentious word, really for what it is) produces a single nod of agreement from everyone, and then we can get on with other stuff.

But the ways the odds are stacked is a worry..

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

The usefulness of the Vietnam analogy is clearly not military (yet). But it is powerfully descriptive of the reasons why the U.S. is failing, such as misunderstanding the enemy, failing to understand the significance of cultural differences, ignorance of how the U.S. presence and actions are perceived by the local population, failing to understand the limits of military power and wilful self-delusion.

To put it another way, if they’d learned the lessons of Vietnam, they would not have made a lot of the mistakes they’ve made.

nardo
2022 years ago

Well said Mork.

The lessons were learned… but this Atlantic piece suggests “a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge.”

From the War College Report: “Long-term gratitude is unlikely and suspicion of U.S. motives will increase as the occupation continues. A force initially viewed as liberators can rapidly be relegated to the status of invaders should an unwelcome occupation continue for a prolonged time. Occupation problems may be especially acute if the United States must implement the bulk of the occupation itself rather than turn these duties over to a postwar international force.”

They should have followed General Garner’s lead in holding elections sooner rather than later, but they had other priorities I think…

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

I don’t think the comparison is all that far fetched. In both cases, the US was (is) trying to impose a political solution by military means. In both cases, the Pentagon’s strategy was (is) dictated by a combination of hubris and ignorance.

The US’s miltary power is awesome. They could take on the rest of the world and win with a leg in the air. But that doesn’t mean their political goals are going to be accomplished in Iraq. Of course, they are not going to be defeated militarily by the Baathist remnants and their supporters. But these people probably figure that all they have to do is keep chipping away – an ambush here, a kidnapping there – and eventually US public opinion will be: “Fuck it, we’ve had enough”.

In the meantime, the Pentagon will probably be stupid enough to push their boy Chalabi into power, and carry out disproportionate reprisals, Israeli style. They will alienate everybody.

The next US President is going to inherit a big mess.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

The single biggest difference between Vietnam and Iraq is that the US DOES have a clear plan to implement a constitutional process leading to a fully elected government by early next January, and a final constitution within a year after that. Meanwhile they’re assembling and training a viable Iraqi military and police force (having disbanded the existing Baathist-dominated miltary because of understandable Shia fears). I’m not sure when it’s planned that the Iraqi military and police forces will be ready to take over completely without the need for US forces to bolster them, but I expect it would be at latest by the time the Iraqi constitution is finalised at end 2005.

This is utterly unlike Vietnam, where a corrupt puppet regime only survived, against a well-organised and reasonably strongly popularly-supported government in the north (also bolstered to varying degrees by the Russians and Chinese), through being propped up indefinitely by the Americans. A popularly-elected Iraqi government holding power under a constitution enacted by the people is a vastly different situation, as is the fact that they’ll be facing rag-tag extremist opposition rather than a well-organisesd government just across the border. It’s possible that Iran may continue to support/create extremist Shia elements like Al Sadr, but that is less likely to continue once the Americans are no longer an occupying force and there is a popularly-elected Shia-dominated federal government (as will certainly be the case).

The next US President (whether it’s Bush or Kerry) is pledged to complete the job in Iraq and, given the time frame sketched above and the horrendous consequences of allowing the terrorists and extreme elements to win, it’s fortunate that that’s the case. Only Mark Latham seems happy to ignore that stark reality.

It’s equally true that the situation will remain a “big mess” (as Dave Ricardo comments) until US forces are able to withdraw in late 2005 or thereabouts, but what’s the alternative? Moreover, and despite the media concentration on killings, kidnappings etc, in many parts of Iraq things are already much better than they were and likely to continue improving. Freedom is always “messy” compared with a brutal military dictatorship, especially in a strife-torn, ethnically and religiously divided nation like Iraq, and even more especially when Al Qaeda and the Iranians are going all-out to exploit the situation and turn it to their advantage.

The whole Vietnam analogy is boring precisely because it serves no other purpose than to slot people into their ideological trenches spouting pre-determined, rigid attitudes to a fluid, very uncertain situation. Chris’s rugby analogy is just as unhelpful as the Vietnam one. It’s more like thinking it’s somehow useful to compare a rugby game with beach volleyball: they both involve a ball but that’s one of the few similarities. As Laurie Oakes suggested, the main relevance of the Vietnam analogy is to remind the politicians of how popular support for a military engagement, almost irrespective of its strategic importance, can be eroded by unremitting media coverage of death, destruction, kidnappings etc. That’s what the terrorists count on. But I suspect that neither Bush nor Howard need any reminding of that danger. Hopefully it remains the case that 9/11 will mean the majority of Americans will retain the intestinal fortitude to see it through, because they know the alternative is potentially even worse.

Jim
Jim
2022 years ago

The only reason for voting for Latham that I can see is if you’re a fundamentalist Howard hater for whom anyone else is preferable.
I might be happy to vote for him – if I knew who the real Latham was.
Is he the Latham who wrote to Labor for Refugees condemning their willingness to excuse criminality – or the Latham who has kissed and made up with Carmen and is doing deals to “win over pro-refugee groups in the party”?
Is it the Latham who has apparently (WARNING : SOURCE PHILIP ADAMS)written to the ABC attacking it for its “elitism and complain(s) about public broadcasting being a sheltered workshop for middle-class wankers ” or the Latham who has pledged more funding for the ABC?
Is it the Latham who attacks the government for not having an independent foriegn policy and calls Howard an arselicker or the Latham who poses in front of the stars and stripes for a press conference?
Is it the Latham who endorsed the third way or the Latham who’s now opting for the old way?
I had a lot more respect for him and his ideas when he was back bench rebel.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I agree with Oakes. The Vietnam analogy is relevant to Iraq only inasmuch as a televisually explicit – and rising – body count might reasonably be predicted to alienate the American electorate from support for continued engagement. As a strategic maxim, it’s got biblical writ currency amongst the mujihadeen.

“Seeing it through” is the counter-argument but the question remains: seeing it through to what?
Iraq is not about to morph into an exemplar of liberal democracy anytime soon, nor is it in any way obvious that Iraqis necessarily aspire to that outcome. What ‘freedom’ might mean to individual Iraqis hasn’t been explored in any depth, but I’m not at all convinced that it would mirror a classic liberal democratic world understanding of same.

The only course logically open to the Americans is to pursue the goal of a security equilibrium sufficient to allow Iraqis to exercise some choice on the matter, within the context of a functioning civil society.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Geoff,

You’re almost certainly right that the final constitution Iraqis will adopt, and even more so the practical political culture that will evolve, will be a fair way from a classical liberal democracy. Probably the best we can hope for is that it will be significantly more liberal and less murderous than Saddam’s regime, uninterested in developing WOMD capabilities and invading/threatening its neighbours, or giving sanctuary to terrorist groups. But that wouldn’t be a bad achievement, and I still think we can be relatively confident that’s what will happen.

I especially agree with your final paragraph.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

So, Ken, is there nothing the Administration could learn from the Vietnam experience?

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2022 years ago

Ken, I think it’s overgenerous to describe the Americans as having a plan leading to elections. There’s a huge gap in the “plan”, starting with the “handover” on June 30.

This is because the original Bremer plan involved a handover to, in your words, a “corrupt puppet government”, selected through a system of carefully rigged caucuses. It was only when Sistani refused to accept this that we got the current partial plan, with the otherwise pointless interregnum. As Bush said yesteday, he has no idea who will take power in a little over two months or how they will be chosen.

The other huge problem is the US insistence (imposed in the draft constitution) on maintaining military control until the acceptance of a final constitution, which may be never, since any three provinces can veto it. This is going to start causing big problems after June 30 if the new government is anything but a US puppet and is a recipe for post-election chaos.

These problems aren’t insurmountable, but they won’t be fixed without a big change of thinking in Washington and only threats of withdrawal by coalition partners seem likely to bring that about.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

JQ,

I mostly agree with the points you make. The Bush administration still seems intent on managing the process and timing of democratic elections to maximise the chances of its preferred former Iraqi exiles gaining a dominant position in the new Iraq by popular mandate. Hence the original (abandoned) process to which you refer, and the currently-proposed interregnum until December/January’s popular elections. However, the reality is that the exiles are unlikely to achieve a dominant position either federally or in any state/province, however the Americans try to engineer it.

But the current escalating violence levels, if anything, actually enhance the certainty that the Americans will ultimately abandon efforts to intrigue the exiles into power: they won’t have any practical choice and they’re already locked into popular elections by January. You’re right that there’s a substantial probability that a popularly-elected government will begin demanding the withdrawal of US forces some time early next year, and that’s a potential source of instability given that Iraq military and police forces are unlikely to be fully ready to take over by that time. However, I suspect that it will prove possible to negotiate some compromise solution where a powerful US rapid reaction force remains in place nearby (e.g. in Kurdish areas of Iraq) to assist in controlling any major insurgency or civil unrest beyond the capability of the new Iraq security forces. Sistani et al don’t want to be Iranian puppets any more than they relish being dominated by the US. So I agree it’s all problematic, but far from insoluble.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Instead of sifting through materials, desperately seeking out items which can be “fitted” into an analogy, it might be worth the while of those anxious to find an even remotely worthwhile analogy, to first learn enough about the basic facts behind the Indo Chinese conflicts, to become awre of the extremely significant DIFFERENCES there are between removing Saddam and supporting Diem.
The down side of this approach is that it takes time, involves careful analysis, and runs the risk of helping you to realise how absurd your original analogy was in every respect bar one.
The only relevant common factor is that, regardless of the rights or wrongs of a war, and whether it should or shouldn’t be prosecuted, the media’s portrayal of a nation’s soldiers dying, can swing public support either way.
Which, of course, has little or nothing to do with whether that war was, or was not, justified.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

Instead of sifting through materials, desperately seeking out items which can be “fitted” into an analogy, it might be worth the while of those anxious to find an even remotely worthwhile analogy, to first learn enough about the basic facts behind the Indo Chinese conflicts, to become awre of the extremely significant DIFFERENCES that are there.
The down side of this approach is that it takes time, careful analysis, and runs the risk of helping you to realise how absurd the analogy is in every respect bar one.
The only relevant common factor is that, regardless of the rights or wrongs of a war, and why it should or shouldn’t be prosecuted, the media’s portrayal of a nation’s soldiers dying, can swing public support either way.
Which, of course, has little or nothing to do with whether that war was, or was not, justified.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

The corrupt puppet government option is by no means off the table. There’s been no reduction in Pentagon support for Chalabli, the leading CPG candidate. The Transitional Administrative Law does not exclude the US appointing whoever it pleases for the period between handover and the elections.

In any case, the TAL excludes large areas of government activity from the Iraqi Transitional Government’s authority. The big one is security which remains with the US. Less well-known but only slightly less important is the special agencies like the debaathificaiton prcoess (controlled by Chalabi), the Iraqi Special Tribunal (controlled by Chalabi’s nephew) and the defence ministry (controlled by a Chalabi ally with a fixed 5-year term).

The other anti-Vietnam analogy point is the claim that there is in Vietnam a government friendly to the insurgency existed just over the border in Hanoi. Evidently commentators pushing that line have not noticed that Iraq is mainly bordered by Arab states and Shi’ite Iraq.

Declaring the Iraqi security forces a viable option flies in the face of their recent record in Sadr City, Falluja and elsewhere.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

Okay, ‘Shi’ite Iraq’ should read ‘Shi’ite Iran’. And if we should discover Chalabi installed as CPG at June’s end will we then hear that Chalabi is our guy and his defeat would lead to X unthinkable consequences?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Alan,

I wasn’t going to comment further, but I’ve got a few spare minutes before a lecture. You said:

“Declaring the Iraqi security forces a viable option flies in the face of their recent record in Sadr City, Falluja and elsewhere.”

I assume you weren’t referring to me, because my comments say almost precisely the opposite i.e. the Iraqi security forces certainly WON’T be ready to assume full control, unassisted by the Americans, by early 2005.

As for your scenario re Chalabi being declared “our guy”, I doubt that Americans would be quite that unsophisticated. It’s a little more likely, however, that some of the more Machiavellian members of the Administration have a fallback plan in the event that popular elections result in a government the US regards as intolerable. By installing Chalabi relatives/close supporters in key positions controlling the new security forces (as your earlier comment points out), it might be possible to engineer an American-backed military coup further down the track should that become necessary. It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if there were contingency plans along those lines.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

Ken

If I gave the impression I thought you regarded the Iraqi auxiliaries as viable then I write less clearly than I like. If the fallback plan is to erect a new military dictator how is a military CPG (and I suspect you;re right) going to be different from Saddam or more capable of raising Iraq from it’s current failed state morass?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Alan,

It may not be better or different at all. But I suspect some US realpolitik practitioners may take the view that, if worse comes to worst and an extremely threateningly (to US interests) fundamentalist elected government achieves power, then a military coup installing a “sympathetic” dictator might be a less bad option: “he might be an evil, bloodthirsty dictator but, goddamn it, he’s OUR evil, bloodthirsty dictator.” It’s the policy that underpinned US support of anti-communist dictators in South and central America until the fall of communism, and might be seen by some as a principle equally relevant to the current era where Islamo-fascism may be seen as just as threatening an ideology as communism once was. No doubt you would make the point that Saddam himself was in part a product of that sort of “realpolitik” US policy stance. And it would be a valid point. I’m just hoping that we’ll end up with an elected government with the qualities I mentioned in an earlier comment i.e. one we can live with however uneasily, even though it’s likely to exhibit significant fundamentalist characteristics and be a long way from a tolerant liberal democracy.

Guido
2022 years ago

Let’s see what Mark Latham did say:

“Labor believes in an equal partnership with the United States. As a smaller and less powerful nation, we need to bring other qualities to the table, uniquely Australian qualities that strengthen our side of the relationship. There are three elements to this approach:

1. The importance of the intelligence relationship, based on the joint management and control of facilities in Australia. In the war against terror, the intelligence relationship has become the most important aspect of the Alliance. During the Cold War, the challenge was to deal with the Soviet Union. The task now is more complex: to identify and deal with a wide range of individuals and other targets of interest. This can not be achieved on a global scale without a strategic Australian contribution.

2. Australia’s unique role in Asia – a Western nation inside Asia, with the potential to open up new markets and build regional cooperation. This can be a real asset for the United States, as it was in the relationship between the Keating and Clinton Administrations in the 1990s. The United States assigns a higher value to an alliance partner that is competent rather than compliant.

3. The strength of Australian personnel and policy. This was a feature of the Hawke and Keating years

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“It’s the policy that underpinned US support of anti-communist dictators in South and central America”

Well, according to a story in the NYT, John Negroponte is expected to be appointed US Ambassador to Iraq after June 30. [go to Crooked Timber and follow the links]

Negroponte is of course best known for sponsorship of various fascist death squads in Central America during the 1980s [from recollection, mainly in Guatamela and Honduras, but also Nicaragua], on behalf of the US Government.

So, Ken, that comment of yours might be depressingly prescient.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

I’ve tried local libraries unsuccessfully for a copy of the book, but one of the best quotes re who had the support of the Vietnamese people was[as far as my memory permits after 40 odd years]

“I have never spoken nor corresponded with anyone knowledgible in Indo-Chinese affairs, who was not of the opinion that, had elections taken place at the time in question, Ho Chi Minh would have received possibly 90% of the votes.”

The “time in question” was 1956, when the Vietnamese had been promised elections for one united nation, NOT the U.S. inspired artificially divided “North” and a “South”.
The author? Former U.S. President, Dweight Eisenhower, in his memoirs, “Mandate for Change”. I realise the John Birch Society accused him of being Communist, but assume no reader here would suspect that?

The U.S. [despite its guarantee to the contrary] worked feverishly, first to prevent those elections taking place, then to place the unpopular Diem in charge of “South” Viet Nam. To compare this with the U.S. efforts to REMOVE a brutal and unpopular leader such as Saddam is stretching not so much a long bow, as a non-existent bow. After all, even Bob Brown criticised Bush Senior for not having finished off Saddam in Gulf War I.
But for those who can’t see anything other than “U.S. bad, everyone else good”, it really won’t matter how VERY different the circumstances are between the two conflicts?

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Norman is concentrating on a comparison which is set at the date of the invasion, when the Vietnam/Iraq analogy didn’t hold so strongly. Now we are comparing the scabby ratbags the US sustained in Vietnam for so long with the crappy joke IGC and its Chalabite officials. And drawing a dotted line to some post June 30 mess where the IRC takes more power and ultimately settles for the Algeria option of no/tainted elections. If the Americans accept that the best outcome is a government which is legitimate in the eyes of most Iraqis, we could probably claim that the Iraqinam analogy allowed the Americans to learn from their past.

And Guido – I am with you on this. Latham is scarey in some ways, but he is not behaving here as badly as this suprisingly dyspeptic bunch is suggesting.

Ken may be bored by the debate (and I sympathise, having had my say and felt sated days ago) but its got a heap of comments.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

It doesn’t seem a lot to ask that people try to understand the correct/incorrect uses of analogies before they use them, and then make it clear which aspects of the different vents they rely upon; but pwehaps that’s an outdated old fashioned approach which is irrelevant in our dynamic potmodernist world?
In the meantime, it would be expected to become a tad boring.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Vietnam veteran, former Marine corps General and former head of U.S Central Command Anthony Zinni doesn’t think the comparison between mistakes made in Vietnam and mistakes being made in Iraq is far-fetched:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20040416-9999-7m16zinni.html

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

I would have thought the analogy between Diem and Chalabi was relatively straightforward. So is the US effort to postpone elections for as long as possible while shoehorning Chalabi into unassailable power through his control of CPA organs that will operate independently of the allegedly sovereign ITG.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

And in the 60s, mork, those Marine Corps Generals thought there was an anology between Viet Nam and Munich, which simply shows that blinkered people use analogies loosely.
Besides, it’s not the rank or “status” of the particular pontificator which counts, is it? Especially when it’s a military “authority”, speaking on a political issue?

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

You’ve got a shot for every messenger, don’t you Norman!

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

I’m not aware of any US Marine Corps generals talking much about Munich and Vietnam. I’m not saying it did not happen but I’d like a source.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

The absurd Munich comparison, Alan, was so prevalent it became part of the “collective wisdom” of the time. Any archives from the period will show you how widely it was accepted. Even our troops were being fed the Munich line, although I didn’t carry a tape recorder to record them.
In the second half of 1968, I had it proffered by the U.S. Militay Attache in Canberra, while we were discussing the conflict. I can’t remember his name, let alone his rank; but it wasn’t junior. Since he’d been attached prior to that to Saigon Embassy at the time of Diem’s assassination [a topic which caused him significant embarrassment] he was naturally totally familiar with the issues and popular U.S. “lines”, but I remember feeling at the time that he was probably more aware of the frailties of the “Munich” argument than ordinary military men.
As for Mork, I’d suggest it’s difficult to feel guilty about alleged mass executions of messengers, when they tended to have been people with a mission perhaps, but very little in the way of a carefully thought through message.

Hector
2022 years ago

Think simple. Learn different.