The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Know your Vietnam history: Did US withdrawal cause the “bloodbath”?

with 3 comments

Historian Gareth Porter, responding to President Bush’s speech likening Iraq withdrawal to Vietnam’s “bloodbath”:

GARETH PORTER: Well, you know, it reminds me very much of the way in which, of course, Richard Nixon used the threat of a bloodbath in Vietnam as the primary argument for continuing that war for four more years after he came to power in 1969. And really, it seems to me, the lesson of the Vietnam War that should be now debated and discussed is really the way in which Nixon could have ended that war when he came to power, negotiated a settlement and avoided the extension of that war into Cambodia, which happened because Nixon did not do that.

Had Nixon listened to the antiwar movement and the American people by 1969 and ended that war, there would not have been the overthrow of Norodom Sihanouk in 1970. There would not have been the extension of the war into Cambodia. There would not have been the rise of the Khmer Rouge. When Sihanouk was overthrown, we tend to forget that the Khmer Rouge was really an insignificant movement. They were about 2,500 or 3,000 very poorly armed soldiers or guerillas. And it was really the extension of the Vietnam War into Cambodia which made the Khmer Rouge the powerful movement that they were.

So really, you know, the lesson of Vietnam that we should be hearing, which we should have heard for the last three decades, but we haven’t, is that government officials in the White House simply do not pay attention to the real consequences of the wars that they wage. They seem to be totally unable to take account of the destabilizing ways that the wars that they wage affect not only the country in which the war is being waged, but then the neighboring countries, as well.

Gareth Porter “most recent book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.” – Amy Goodman. See the entire interview at DemocracyNow! See also this interesting clip at My Clipmarks: Nixon, Johnson, and Bush saying the same things.

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Written by Monte

August 24, 2007 at 8:21 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Hi Monte,
    Sorry for my delayed visit.

    The problem of our world is exatly what you conclude your post with:

    The reality behind wars is ECONOMIC interest of the US. Military is the greatest force in American economy; only seconded by Hollywood! These two are the feeding tubes of American Hegemony. this is why Democrats and Republicans look so alike when they take hold of the white house.

    Monte Says: As crime investigators say, “Follow the money.” Indeed, the majority of the candidates of both parties seem to be unwilling to acknowledge this elephant-in-the-room or offer any solution but bringing in more hay.
    Good to hear from you!


    August 28, 2007 at 7:31 am

  2. As good a debunking for the bush crime families latest sales job on the disaster in Iraq. We should be looking to win the peace, not avoiding losing a war that could not at it’s start and cannot now be “won.” War always leads to the next war, peace is an end unto itself.

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

    Monte says: Afghanistan, WW1 to WW2, WW1 to current Iraq/Iran struggles, Imperialism in Africa to WW2 in Africa, Spanish-American War to Corregidor and Pearl Harbor, CIA-based Mexican wars to Mexican poverty and immigration issues, supporting Saddam to Iraq’s invasion of Iran; US bombing of Cambodia to Khmer Rouge and the killing fields; US invasion of Iraq to Al Qaeda presence in Iraq; US coup against Iran in ’53 to takeover of religious revolution and hostage crises two decades later; the list never ends. You said it well: War always leads to the next war.

    Kucinich’s advocacy for a Department of Peace is a remarkable idea, and a recognition that war just bumbles us from one set of problems to another. The multiple disasters of the Iraq war are war’s norm, not an aberration. It isn’t just Bush, but the whole corrupt idea that force can make things better that needs to be re-examined.


    August 26, 2007 at 7:43 pm

  3. You may have a point about Vietnam. Also if we used more force on N. Vietnam such as more strategic bombing we may have won. We had one hand tied behind our backs. Now days our leaders and people seem to think there are rules in war. Really there are no rules or morals when you are killing people. If we as a nation are going to war we should go in to win or not at all. I think thats the real lesson of Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq. The military/Industrial complex will not allow us to win. Never ending war is there goal. In reality war should never be fought unless you are prepared to do what is necessary to win and we as a nation and a democracy are not. So we should in my opinion become isolationist and stop trying to run the world, but at the same time not look at the world thru rose colored glasses.

    Monte Says: Thanks for your comment, John. I certainly agree that those who make billions from warfare exert influence to keep us in it.
    I’d disagree on the presence of rules and morals in warfare, though, for three reasons: 1. Law: We have given our word as a nation – by becoming signatories to treaties – that we will abide by certain conventions regarding warfare and common definitions of war crimes. 2. Practicality: You don’t have to look far into history to see that lack of restraint in warfare breeds hostility that causes the conflict to eventually return, and 3. Morality: Visiting death and suffering on people who don’t deserve it is simply barbaric. We can create a better world than that, and we can be better people than that.
    Peace can be made, but attempting to make it by force is usually a short-term solution, akin to putting a bandage over an infection. It looks like the bleeding stops, but the problem hasn’t yet been addressed. And the core problem is never a military one; military actions are the symptoms of what lies deeper.

    John G

    August 24, 2007 at 8:36 pm

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