Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On the Road in Vietnam and Iraq

It's Jack Kerouac's birthday, which I've posted on before (see specifically, March 12, 2006 post).

Today this country as a whole is on the road in Iraq, just as forty odd years ago we were on the road in Vietnam. Only then, because of the Draft, more people protested more vocally. Today we seem to say, shucks, then shrug our shoulders and hustle up some money to pay for gas as we drive away from the problem.

To some extent at least, Gore Vidal was right when he called the USA "The United States of Amnesia."

Take the Bush-Cheney mantra since mid-2006: "If we don't fight them there [Iraq], we'll have to fight them here ['The Homeland"].

Hardly original. This "logic" goes back at least as far as the Great War / First World War. And more recently, to Vietnam. Consider U.S. Vietnam veteran Donald Duncan, writing in 1966:

[W]henever anybody questioned our being in Vietnam -- in light of the facts -- the old rationale was always presented: "We have to stop the spread of communism somewhere . . . if we don't fight the commies here, we'll have to fight them at home . . . if we pull out, the rest of Asia will go Red . . . these are uneducated people who have been duped [i.e. the Vietnamese, not the occupying Americans]; they don't understand the difference between democracy and communism . . ."

(Source: Donald Duncan, "The Whole Thing Was a Lie!" February 1966, in Peter B. Levy, ed., America in the Sixties -- Left, Right and Center: A Documentary History (Praeger, 1998), p. 146).

Today's Rune: Harvest.

As we sow, so shall we reap.


Anonymous said...

In theory, both communism and radical Islam(the jihadist variety) are totalitarian movements bent on world hegemony. John McCain fought communism in Vietnam and he will and is fighting radical Islam now.--The Explicator

Erik Donald France said...

Well, if McCain blunders into the presidency and has the same luck he did in Vietnam, don't be surprised if he isn't captured again while gamboling overseas.

Vietnam did fall. The sky did not fall in. Communism was never monolithic.

Radical Islam is a many-headed hydra. There is no logic in "fighting them there so they won't fight us here." Being in Iraq CANNOT PREVENT random attacks in the USA -- as anyone paying attention to random wacko Americans can see (colleges, Wendy's, malls, etc.).

And besides, no way radical Islam will ever take hold in the USA.

Anonymous said...

There have been no successful jihadist attacks in the USA since 9-11. The seemingly illogical strategy you quote has worked.--The Explicator

RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

Erik Donald France said...
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Erik Donald France said...

Rosecolored glasses -- thanks for the detailed comment, which makes perfect sense. Time to check out your blog. . .

Explicator -- there have been successful attacks against once or present "Coalition of the Willing" in Madrid, London, etc. The fact that a loony suicide squad hasn't struck in the US since 9/11 is probably (we can't definitively *prove* why or why not, neither you nor I, as we are not omniscient) a combo of luck and intel. A ground kamikaze is a lot easier to pull of than another hijacking of 9/11 scale. If Israel is any example, kamikaze type actions CANNOT BE STOPPED, certainly not universally or for all time.

Anonymous said...

Geez, it actually sounds like you want them to hit us.--The Explicator

Erik Donald France said...

Not at all. I do want a more rationale and creative approach to foreign policy that includes intelligent diplomacy as well as brute force.

A certain amount of risk in life is unavoidable.

Between China, Russia, and the USA, do you really think radical Islam can take over any of those countries?

Erik Donald France said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erik Donald France said...

I also think Iraq costs too much for what little we get out of it in terms of security.

In any event, a US ground presence will be maintained in the Middle East, just scaled back -- regardless of president.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think there is a real possiblity of that eventually happening. Radical Islam is only the spearhead for Islam. Russia and the USA have essentially been taken over by Christianity. So I think there is a good chance that Islam may one day be a world hegemon.--The Explicator

Lana Gramlich said...

United States of Amnesia is right. This week's news items will be forgotten by next week. Even "egg beaters" which used to sell eggs w/o yolks are into a new generation, where they can tout (basically,) "now with yolk!" Don't get me started...gads...

Cup said...

Very interesting discussion going on here ...