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Iraq—The Next Vietnam?
by David T. Pyne
11 September 2003

The parallels between the US occupation of Iraq and the Vietnam war are continuing to increase.


Last month I attended the Biennial Convention of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies in southern California as a member of the Board of Directors of that laudable organization. I brought to the convention a resolution in support of our troops and calling for the President to bring the troops home and “to withdraw the vast majority of US military forces from the Iraqi theater of operations by Christmas, 2003.” I had two primary rationales in pushing this resolution. First, to save the lives of our troops who have been condemned by US policymakers to fight an unnecessary and essentially unwinnable never-ending counterinsurgency war in Iraq. Second, to increase the prospects that President Bush would be re-elected President next fall by taking the rising death toll among our troops and civilians in Iraq off the front page along with the Administration’s ‘Weaponsgate’ scandal stemming from its willful attempts to deceive the American people over the supposed threat posed by its ultimately non-existent WMD arsenal.

Even though I strongly opposed the President’s misguided invasion of Iraq, I believe that the likely Democrat presidential nominee in the 2004 Election, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who appears poised to announce her candidacy, would be considerably worse for the country. I have staunchly rejected the calls by those on the far left for his impeachment for the increasingly common presidential offense of “lying about war,” as compared to his predecessor’s more weighty offenses of selling out the country to the Communist Chinese and “lying about sex” and exposing the country’s youth to tails of his adulterous affairs, sexual assaults against women, and related debaucheries. As it turns out, several recent American presidents have established somewhat of a tradition of deliberately misleading American citizens in order to goad them into supporting a war, which they would not otherwise have supported. Wilson, FDR, LBJ and George W. Bush lied us into wars while Clinton lied us into multiple lesser conflicts.

Curiously, while every member of the NFRA Resolutions Committee agreed that US troops should never have been sent to invade Iraq in the first place, all but one expressed their viewpoint that it was necessary to “finish the job” and “win the war” before we withdrew our troops, who are reportedly the targets of a dozen terrorist attacks each day and which are dying at the rate of one a day and being wounded at the rate of over six a day based on statistics reported in mid-July. Accordingly, my resolution to support our troops and bring them home was killed in committee and did not make it to the convention floor for a vote by the delegates as I had hoped it would. What the opponents of my resolution on the committee and other neocon-minded folks fail to realize is that the counter-terrorist war in Iraq is all but unwinnable. It will not end until the US withdraws its forces out of sight of the Iraqi people and halts its Clintonian, liberal internationalist nation-building efforts, which are doomed to ultimate failure as right-minded realists including this author have pointed out from the beginning.

A friend of mine who is presently running for Congress in Indiana announced that he would support keeping our troops in Iraq at current levels for ten years if necessary to avoid another Vietnam. Curiously enough, ten years was exactly how long US involvement in the Vietnam War, a conflict that spanned from 1965-1975. Unfortunately, the parallels between the US occupation of Iraq and the Vietnam war are continuing to increase. Since May 1st when President Bush proclaimed “mission accomplished,” 142 additional US soldiers have lost their lives, more than were killed during the war itself, which means that 280 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the war began on March 20th. The cost of keeping our troops in Iraq at current force levels could reach as high as a trillion dollars over the next decade according to some estimates. At that rate, if the US military were to remain in Iraq in large numbers for the next ten years, several thousand US soldiers would lose their lives.

The US public is beginning to realize the truth. According to a Newsweek poll taken just last weekend, 69% of Americans are either very or somewhat concerned that the US military is going to continue to be bogged down in Iraq with massive numbers of troops for many years to come. This will almost certainly be the case unless, by some miracle, common sense prevails in the White House and a decision is taken to withdraw our troops from Iraq or more likely a new President is elected from America’s Democratic Socialist Party to replace George W. Bush come 2004.

Thus while my congressional candidate friend argued that we must keep 150,000 troops in Iraq for the next ten years to avoid another Vietnam, I say that we must withdraw the vast majority of our troops from Iraq for the same reason—to avoid another Vietnam. Like Vietnam, no matter how long the US remains in Iraq and no matter how many troops it sacrifices and how many hundreds of billions of dollars it expends trying to pacify Iraq, when the troops leave Iraq, it will soon fall under control of Iraqi Shiite terrorist leaders like the US backed Ayatollah Muhammed Baqr al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an Iranian-backed proxy organization. Indeed, as I revealed in my last editorial, Iraq’s first post-war interim President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who was elected late last month, hails from a terrorist party, Al Dawa. This terrorist group is believed by some in US intelligence to have perpetrated the car bombing against the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 which cost the lives of 241 Marines.
 
Like Afghanistan, where the Taliban has recently emerged unscathed to challenge the US-installed government in Kabul, the strong presence of Islamic terrorists in Iraq makes a total victory in Iraq all but impossible. It also ensures that any attempt to create a true democratic system in Iraq will likely serve as the surest, swiftest road to Shiite terrorist control of the country. The US might well do better to install a moderate or secularly-minded pro-US Iraqi strongman as President of Iraq with a democratically elected national legislature. That would be the only real hope of averting terrorist Shiite control of the country in the future.

What is needed in Iraq is not only an exit strategy, but more limited, realistic and achievable objectives. The US achieved its primary objective of regime change in Iraq. In so doing it achieved the victory that eluded President Bush Sr. during the first Gulf War The first President Bush was far too wise than to totally destroy Iraq and balkanize it, thereby preventing it from continuing in its historical role as a buffer state to the expansion of Iranian terrorism and regional hegemony as the neocons in the current Administration have done. In the interim, the US should declare victory in Iraq and announce that it will phase out US troops from their current policing and raiding duties which have turned so much of the previously substantial pro-US minority of Iraq firmly against us and to the side of the Shiite terrorists and underground Baathists which now target US troops and collaborators for assassination. If the neocons want to keep US troops in Iraq, then they should restrict them to a few bases located away from the populace and thus out of sight from the Iraqi people. Finally and perhaps most importantly, any plan to withdraw our forces must allow for a speedy reconstitution of the very Iraqi Army that our leaders so unwisely ordered disbanded after the war ended. It was this premature disbanding of the Iraqi Army that resulted in the current wave of terrorist attacks in an Iraq that--thanks to US intervention--is unable to provide security for itself either against terrorist infiltrators or a hypothetical invasion by a foreign power.

Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this
notice and hyperlink intact.


David T. Pyne, Esq. is President of the Center for the National Security Interest, a national security think-tank based in Arlington, VA.

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