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28 February 2009


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Co. Lang...it astounds me that somehow you saddle the "Democratic Left" with the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, as the Nixon-Kissinger "Peace with Honour" machinations virtually guaranteed that the South would eventually capitulate to the NVA and submit to reunification terms issued by Ho Chi Minh. Even the notoriously corrupt regime of Nguyen Van Thieu recognised that there was absolutely no choice but to endorse the "peace" terms negotiated by the US and GNVN, and endure whatever consequences would flow from the decision. After all the (Nixon) years of expanding the war to Cambodia, bombing of Hanoi/Haiphong, additional thousands of US and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese casualties, despite all of that the inevitable writing on the wall spelled "it's over", and the Vietnamese themselves would sort out the post-war arrangements, the legacy of which presented no apparent threat to US national security (unless you reckon "loss of prestige" a national-security issue).
IMO, Iraq will go the same way, where a new government radically different from that displaced by war will assume power, and the internal dynamics of Iraqi politics - ethnic, religious, territorial - will ultimately impose the composition and direction of post-war/post-occupation Iraq. I simply can't accept that the "reach" of domestic US politics trumps the ability of a foreign peoples to place their own mark upon their own county; the removal of all US military tomorrow or two years from now won't make any significant difference in what emerges within Iraq after all the shouting has subsided.
Yes, it would be comforting to know that "success", "victory", a "job well done" was achieved after all these years of warfare, but - in the long run - it's out of the Americans' hands, full stop; totting up "gains" or "losses" to US national security or interest in the immediacy of the wind-up to the war serves no good purpose at all.

Patrick Lang


Absolute bullshit. "The corrupt Thieu government?" Wow. You really ARE a lefty! You know perfectly well that the Thieu government had accepted the cease fire with North Vietnam because we insistted that they do so. That cease-fire persisted for two years until the Congress of the United States passed a law forbidding any further assistance of any kind to South Vietnam. This was an unmistakable signal to the North Vietnamese. Who controlled the Congress then and to what constituency were they responding? pl


How many of the families in the Vietnamese diaspora actively collaborated with the invaders?

Oh, somewhere between 99.9 per cent and 100 per cent.

So, bring all of our collaborators to the US and shut down these ignorant futile wars. Our collaborators will not be one tiny whit better off after another year and a half of killing than the Vietnamese collaborators were after our 13 years of killing in Vietnam.

João Carlos

Well, I fear will not be important for Iraq's future how much time the US troops use for get out.

Iran will control Iraq's shia government, because the shia parties, all them, have links to Iran. That will happen if the US troops stay 10 years or they get out at 5 months or they get out at 16 months. It is inevitable.

But Pres. Obama need time for get the troops out making sure the troops will suffer no damage and they will not see more casualities (or at least save the most troops lives he can). It is better an organized retreat than an unorganized run out.

The objective is save the US troops lives. He cannot make them get out at one month because they will stay vulnerable while retreating. They need time for retreat a safe manner.

Better start to talk to Iran and build a possible deal. But I think Obama will try it.

Neocolonialism is dead, no way it will survive to Iraqi fiasco...

But I fear we will see they will blame Obama for not make Iraq a new US protectorate.


I think it fair to note that it was the so called "Democratic Left" that controlled Congress in the early 70s, the time the Col is focusing on. And they were certainly responding to their constituency, and, I would guess, the majority of Americans when they passed the total ban. Something often overlooked by the 'hawks'. The question that should be asked is how and why did we get to a situation where Congress, and people in the nation felt they had to pass something so total a bar to assistance as they did? Could it be because they had lost faith in a lying, and corrupt government here, in DC? Could it be that they felt that the only way to stop the GOP Admin from reengaging in Southeast Asia--regardless what the Admin said in public-- was by the total ban against aid? Perhaps they were wrong in that conclusion. Perhaps they were not. In any event, to think that the total ban was the only way to stop the 'hawks'---by that time seeming addiction to foreign adventures--- was logical given what had gone on the preceding twenty five years or so.

Moving forward to today, while I have no objective criteria to prove this, my general impression is the "Left", at least as represented in the blogsphere, seems to have taken this rather in stride. I realize that Pelosi and Reid have moaned a bit. But that is about it. I think most people are satisfied with the speech and the policy time line. So long as he sticks to it. That is.

Patrick Lang


I was in Saigon the day the RVN government accepted the cease fire under Kissinger's pressure. We threatened them then with abandonment to get them to agree. How would they have fought without resupply from us? My counterpart, a Vietnamese Army paratroop lieutenant colonel with one eye and one leg told me that it was "only a matter of time before you abandon us." He was right. A decent interval passed and it was so.

The RVN government was corrupt? All 3rd world governments are corrupt. Do you think the communist Vietnamese government is not corrupt? If you think so, then you have not tried to do business with them. Business corruption made the RVN government illegitimate? Was the Bush Administration not corrupt in its business connections? Did that make them illegitimate?

I should "get over it?" Hell no! Treachery is treachery. pl

John Kirkman

55,000 U.S. soldiers and possibly over a million Vietnamese died in a war in Vietnam that never should have started.
It was their country and we were the invaders. If they wanted to be Communist who gives a shit, it was their business, not ours. War is not the answer, unless, of course, you're pushing for rank. Our country has never been the same since, and now we make damn sure it is only the working class doing the KIA. Ike warned us about the crazies in the Pentagon and their buddies in the industry, but we were raised on John Wayne movies and B.S., propaganda unrelated to the smell of flesh in a napalm fire.

Patrick Lang


"unless, of course, you're pushing for rank."

You piece of S--t. Let us meet somewhere. pl

Babak Makkinejad

João Carlos:

You wrote: "...Iran will control Iraq's shia government,..."

In the eternal words of Col. Lang: "Bull Shit".

The people of Iraq, regardless of their religious or linguistic affiliations, are very very aware of the price oil & gas resources in the world. There is absolutely no way for a foreign power to control people who are - in principle - independently wealthy.

The most one could claim, in my opinion, is that in the area of security & stability of the current dispensation in Iraq, the government of Iraq will welcome all help that Iran can afford.

John Kirkman:

IKE's government was the one that oerthrew a sovereign government in Iran- under the guise of pre-empting communist threat- in order to rape that country's oil resources. He, more than any one else, bears responsibility for what followed in 1979- in my opinion.

If you are looking for saints among US presidents you might want to consider Mr. Jimmy Carter.

Patrick Lang

Old lefty and zionist assholes (sometimes the same)

Go elsewhere for your forum. you will will not be posted here. pl


Colonel -

With friends like some of those above you do not need any enemies.

God bless you for telling it like you see it. There are too many self-licking ice cream cone blogs. Yours is refreshing.

Charles I

'Old lefty and zionist assholes"

Cripes! 2 outta 3, can I still get on?

Tom Ricks' new book moots that the ultimate Iraq war, to be fought by the Iraqis, awaits withdrawal.

Good luck and God Bless all those who lose life of loved one before its completed.

Now, wasn't the Powell doctrine supposed to solve the usual political consequences of ill considered war or ill-timed withdrawal?

Its a bit late I know, but if only 400,000 SOLDIERS, not contractors and caterers had been deployed in Iraq, or in Afghanistan for that matter, with the appropriate focused mission: "No more nuke plans, don't attack us or the neighbours from here; OK then its all yours".

And therein lies context of every American war and every American withdrawal.

And every American "betrayal" as seen by the weary, honourable, bloodied soldiers who fight them. God help them all, except the ones shooting at me or mine, or my allies.

Its not up to General Powell. Its up to Congress and in time, the voters. For better or worse, we're free, hopefully, to be better. Next time.


Viet Nam and a lot of other countries suffered because "Elephants were fighting and the mice got stomped".
A friend of mine flew the American planes that brought the French back into Indo China in the 40's. Truman did that.
What a lot of lives and treasure would have been saved if we had just let Ho take over then. The communist experiment would have been over sooner and with less loss of lives.
My guy who cuts my hair is back in VN to see family and friends and no one cares that he was in RVN inteligence during the late unpleasantness.


Colonel, you've jumped the shark.


Damn Colonel,

Remind me to never get seriously crossed up with you.

You just have to remember. The military man's concepts of honor, integrity, and faithfulness are totally alien to some who populate your forum. These "panty waists" have no real idea why you are angry with them. In addition many of them are glad when America suffers a defeat.

Thank you. For after 30 plus years you being so forceful in defending the honor and memories of those who did serve in Vietnam both the Americans and our allies(many of whom were incredibly brave men).

Especially for those who have now been long dead.

Semper Fi


Col. Lang...I assume that it is I who must suffer the "old lefty" denunciation/ban. I'm sorry that my comments so offended you, and that certain opinions simply aren't tolerated ex post facto, much to my chagrin. Frankly, whether you post this particular comment is irrelevant to me now, but I just wish to point out that your own particular personal and career participation in the Vietnam War has left you - nearly 35 years later - rather short on objectivity when events from that painful period resurface.
Whatever your opinion of the rightness or wrongness of the entire US involvement in Vietnam, you must concede surely that Cooper-Church (6/70),Case-Cooper (6/73), War Powers Act (1973), and, yes, the Congressional vote in March, 1975 (a result that Pres. Gerald Ford expected, and one that he did NOT try to rally either the Republicans or the public at large before the actual vote) were in culmination of both an enormous voter weariness with and hostility to further US engagement in the war, AND Congressional frustration with an Executive Branch engineering and then conducting a war with minimal "advise and consent" input from the Congress. Ultimately, the "power of the purse" was used, in early 1975, that finally drew an end to the US's contribution and influence in aid of the South Vietnamese government. Yes, tens of thousands - more, perhaps - of America's former ally were left holding the can, but the die had been cast already. Few people believed that "Vietnamisation" would in fact substitute for a huge US military commitment; at best it would only prolong a bitter, bloody internecine conflict that would have resulted in the same denouement: reunification under the GNVN. As the '75 vote was taking place, the NVA were streaming tank, artillery, mechanised infantry, the lot, from the North toward Saigon, and Thieu know the game was up. You don't think his American contacts were telling him that whatever Nixon, Kissinger, Ford, Mel Laird had promised, Congress and the public were done with it?
I also wish to say that my comments were a sincere effort at dialogue - I never slag off other posters or the blog editor - and I (wrongly, it seems) had expected a like response. Perhaps you should start a "Who lost the war in Vietnam?" thread, as you certainly have a lot to say on the subject. But I'm afraid that your personal feelings severely hamper your judgment when dealing with comments that deal either directly or peripherally with the topic.
Well, I did enjoy visiting and posting here...I only can wish you well and continued success for your blog.

Leila Abu-Saba

I want to post something that refers to a thread from two or three weeks ago - regarding the chimp cartoon in the NY Post.

I made comments then about racism in New York City. I then thought that there may be more than one good honest New Yorker who might argue with me that I've painted the city and its people with too broad a brush.

I saw a wedding announcement today in the NY Times that told me some things in New York do change... or rather, in the melting pot that is NYC, some things never change. The Irish and the Italians go from fighting gang wars to marrying each other; other ethnic groups follow:


My best wishes to the happy couple, two NY CIty police sergeants.


Whatever our initial goals were in invading iraq, I think we have achieved what is mostly achievable with COIN. We have put Iraq in a place where it can decide its future. We cannot and should not do that.

It is time to leave, and leave responsibly. We need to accept financial realities and face other mounting issues around the world. Mexico anyone?

I am concerned about Afghanistan and what they are deciding to do there. We are already seven years there, and people are projecting ten years more at a minimum following COIN practice. What model do we have for such a protracted conflict? What happens after we leave? Is Barnett correct in assuming that whenever we leave, now or in ten years, Afghanistan is likely to revert to a decentralized, tribally dominated country open to use by small terrorist groups?



Col., correct me if I'm misinterpreting, but are you saying that had the US congress not passed the ban on US aid to South Vietnam then the North would not have invaded, or at least not when it did? Would US aid in 75(in the form of bombing, resupply, etc.) have allowed the South to rebuff the Northern invasion, like in 72?

To the others: why do you come here? Is it to have your preconceived notions praised, or is it to learn?



I think there is a difference between a desire to "end the war," which really means end US involvement in the war and not an end of the war itself, and completely abandoning South Vietnam as we did in the 1970's, or Iraq or Afghanistan today.

On the subject of the anti-war left, I'm largely in agreement with Col. Lang - they want to have their cake and eat it too. They apparently do not see themselves as holding any responsibility for the negative consequences that flow from the policy choices they support and successfully implement. Just look at some of the comments in this thread.

This same strain of leftism is now complaining that Obama isn't getting out of Iraq now and is suddenly very worried and vocal about the "escalation" and "endless war" in Afghanistan. It's another case where anti-war ideology is more important than a rational consideration of the consequences of a particular course of action given a particular situation. It's frankly refreshing to see Obama reject that view take a pragmatic and rational approach. I, for one, am quite tired of ideological decision-making no matter where it comes from, right or left, that we've seen in recent years.

Cold War Zoomie

We don't have cable TV here at home, and my blood pressure monitor is happier for it! So I am suspecting that proponents of the first couple of arguments and the Democratic Left must be cable TV gasbags that I never see. And quite frankly, I think are becoming less and less relevant.

A perusal of what I would think are some of the most popular grassroots, lefty blogs - Daily Kos, Eschaton, Hullabaloo, and Talking Points Memo - all come up pretty much empty on Obama's plans other than simply highlighting them back on the day he gave his speech. They're covering all sorts of other issues.

I think Obama will be able to move forward as planned with no sustained opposition.

Patrick Lang


My conception of salvation involves the willingness to sacrifice for others. Your friends and mine died for that. Their deaths are not wasted.


On the other hand I would have preferred to win. By "win" I mean an end state in which the people of the Republic of Vietnam would have had a chance to decide for themselves what sort of political system they wanted to live under. Most Americans who think of themselves as having opposed that war from opposition to brutality have no idea what VC agitprop cadres did to the country people to keep them in line. Having buried a lot of the results of their "discipline" I can not forget it.

I do think the NV government would not have launched their war winning conventional offensive in 1975 if the propect of American air intervention had been present. They had a lot of experience of what B-52s would do to them given the opportunity. The '75 offensive brought them out of hiding and across the border en masse. The roads were jammed with their tanks, towed artillery and infantry in truck convoys. They knew better than to do that if the
BUFFs were a probability. pl


Since I seldom watch TV news I have been fortunate to not see the shrill talking heads try to gin up controversy.

It is to be expected that the neocon/Israel first crowd will try to create the message backdrop of "stabbed in the back" while some of those that opposed the Iraq invasion vociferously will demand an even faster withdrawal. Compared to the Vietnam war I believe the vast majority of the American people sincerely supported our soldiers and felt for their families despite which side of the divide they were on the political decision to invade Iraq.

Obama was pretty clear during the campaign that he would order a prudent withdrawal strategy. But the actual mechanics would be based on consultation with the military leadership. He has done that and I don't doubt his resolve to see this orderly and safe return home of our soldiers.

IMO, Obama's Iraq speech could not have been more clear. He has done exactly what he said he would do during the campaign. He is to be commended for recognizing the sacrifice of military families who served and followed the orders of our political leadership. I also feel that his demeanor reflected the sober nature of the issue at hand. I hope for all our sakes that the sordid chapter that is Iraq - when our people were propagandized into an invasion and occupation of a country that posed no real or imminent threat to us on the basis of false pretenses - will be closed with respect to all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and continue to pay dearly including our military families as well all the Iraqis killed, maimed and displaced. I hope they will find their peace. I suppose that I belong to a minority that believes that we need to openly examine the political decision making that led to this strategic debacle for the US and hold those at the highest echelons of political power who made the decisions accountable.

Lest we forget, those elected leaders that had the courage to oppose the AUMF and voted against the blanket invasion authority were by large Democratic "lefties". Further those that stood with the Constitution and voted against the Patriot Act, the FISA sham to provide retroactive immunity, warantless spying on American citizens and other transgressions of liberty that the hysteria around 9/11 and Iraq created were tragically few. My respect for these senators & congressmen who recognized their oath to defend the Constitution have only grown although I disagree with them on many issues.

Babak Makkinejad


You wrote: "...rational consideration of the consequences of a particular course of action given a particular situation.".

No such thing; i.e. rational choice has ever existed or practiced in fact, as far as the historical record shows -in my opinion.

Policy is envisioned, designed and implemented by men with all their passions and prejudices.

In fact, I cannot think of a single war or historical leader whose actions could be justified or understood on basis of Reason.

Perhaps it is because such (Universal) Reaon does not exist among men.

Babak Makkinejad


Indeed! The portions of Mr. Obama's speech addressing the people of Iraq should have been delivered by Mr. Bush in 2003 or 2004. That he did not do so always left me wondering if US were after Iraqi oil after all.

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