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14 October 2005


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I agree.

I think the vote this weekend will be smooth, but as soon (and it'll be soon) as the lockdown is lifted it will be life as usual. I hope that this vote will lead to some progress, but I'm not counting on it.

But if you can't take it anymore and you have to see good news from Iraq just watch Fox next week and believe them. Then just ignore the real news as it comes out from actual reporters and specialists. It's what half the country has been doing for the entire war so far...


Clearly, the Sunni Arabs have nothing to offer other than an end to the violence.

BTW, Pat, I wonder if you saw this Melvin Laird piece in Foreign Affairs on Vietnamization and Iraq:


I'd be interested to read your comments.

Michael Murry

Pat can speak for himself, but I served for eighteen months in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-1972) that Melvin Laird so thoroughly mischaracterizes as a "success." Like hell.

I do agree with one thing he said in his summary, however, even though he probably didn't mean it to come out the way it did.

Congress did finally cut off funding for the interminable quagmire and, as Laird said, "Washington should follow a similar strategy now." Congress should cut off the funding for Bush's executive branch misadventure -- forthwith -- since no weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq now and no Saddam Hussein "threatens" America with the weapons he never had from the jail cell in which he now resides. Game over.


I disagree with PL on this. Nobody has caved on anything, the current Shia/Kurd coalition has agreed that amendments to the constitution will be considered after it has passed. That is not the same as agreeing to the amendments.

This is the more fundamental problem. The "agreement" solves nothing, and simply provides a means to credibly suggest that some Sunnis voted for a constitution whose passage is inevitable.

The net will be more of the same violence, not because the Sunnis gained anything but precisely because they didn't gain anything.

Pat Lang


you don't understand me. The Sunni Arabs have learned that sustained violence works. The constitution will pass one way or another. The Sunni Arabs will not have the votesin parliament to make changes, so they will continue to support the guerrilas. pl

Pat Lang


"I do agree with one thing he said in his summary"

What summary? pl

Michael Murry


I should have used the word "abstract," although Laird, speaking in the first person, did begin his piece with the word "summary." Anyway, I'll just quote here Laird's own self-serving "abstract summary" to which I made reference.

"Summary: During Richard Nixon's first term, when I served as secretary of defense, we withdrew most U.S. forces from Vietnam while building up the South's ability to defend itself. The result was a success -- until Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting off funding for our ally in 1975. Washington should follow a similar strategy now, but this time finish the job properly."

You can see where I found the key words and phrases to cherry-pick for my own purposes. As well, I should note for full disclosure purposes that I obviously resent Melvin Laird's issuing me my orders to go "Vietnamize" some Vietnamese as part of his "withdrawing" me from Vietnam after sending me there first.

I, of course, consider Congress part of "Washington" while Larid assumes -- as he, Nixon, and Kissinger did during the American War on Vietnam -- that it means the President, his National Security Advisor, and Secretary of Defense. (Think George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld here and you don't have to read much further.) And even though the Congress hasn't quite gotten fed up enough with the monumental waste and fraud of another Parkinson's War (i.e., bureaucratic violence expanded to fill the decades alloted for its "completion"), I feel quite confident they soon will.

Anyway, I've written elsewhere about this new wave of reactionary revisionist apologetics (I think I'll call it "neo-new-ism") for what history already shows about why America shouldn't have done what it did in Vietnam and why America failed for trying to do it anyway. I don't want to waste any more of my life debunking the same, tired canards and non-sequiturs. What kind of people (Laird and his ilk) would consider the hard-won lessons of Vietnam a "syndrome," as if Americans should consider wisdom the sign of a disease? Go figure.

I really only wanted to note that I agree with your assessment of how "violence" can work for some people and not for others, depending on the type of "violence;" its political objectives; and place, time, and method of application. The British tried a certain type of "violence" against the American colonies and the colonists responded with their own type of violence in return. The British violence attempted to achieve subjugation. The colonial violence attempted to achieve independence. The British violence failed. The colonial violence succeeded. People will fight when they think they can get something by fighting that they can't get otherwise. They will continue fighting as long as they see signs that their particular form of violence appears likely to achieve results. I believe you made this point quite clearly. The Sunnis in Iraq (with their own "coalition partners" from elsewhere in the Sunni Muslim world) have achieved much more by violence than they have by other means and so why should anyone expect them to change course?

Penultimately, I repeat that like other apologists for the failed "Vietnamization" program, Laird still thinks that the American proxy war against Russian and Chinese communism (the inchoate ideological horror that James Carroll calls "mystical dread" and FDR called "fear itself") waged in Vietnam had something to do with the Vietnamese or how they viewed their own struggle for national unification and self-determination. Vietnam never attacked America any more than Iraq ever did and any American attemt to resurrect the "Vietnamization" program under the Orwellian euphemism of "Iraqification" will fail for well-known and historically valid reasons. The Vietnamese knew it and the Sunnis in Iraq know it, too.

Finally, the "Vietnamization" policy had one aim: namely to allow continuation of the vastly unpopular American proxy war on Vietnam by attacking dissent against it in America. That meant Americans attacking other Americans. Laird and the apologist reactionaries fail to mention the warped economy, guns-and-butter inflation, draconian wage-and-price controls, political assassinations, student riots and the national-guard killings of four American college kids at Kent State University. The reactionaries never mention the blowback from Vietnam that almost destroyed America. In this sense of unintended blowback, then, the American War on Iraq does show that some events in Iraq have a bearing on what happens to America; but that has to do with what Americans have done to themselves and not to what any Iraqis have done to America.

Americans started this proxy war in Iraq aimed at fighting "global terrorism," "mystical dread," or "fear itself" -- none of which have anything to do with Iraqi national unification (if "Iraqis" want that) or Iraqi self-determination. As a beleaguered Iraqi victim said the other day on CNN International: "Why can't the Americans fight their war on terrorism somewhere else?" Why not, indeed.

I apologize for the extreme length of the posting.



COL Lang:

I think I do understand you. I was trying to point out that the violence may not have worked. What if the Shia/Kurd alliance simply agreed to consider amendments in bad faith for their own purposes?

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