Thursday, April 22, 2004

Some other thoughts on Iraq

- especially with reference to the Vietnam analogies.

I respect his writing ability, though I often find him rather arrogant (perhaps that's what it takes) and certainly don't agree with everything in Second Thinking - What I got wrong about Iraq by Christopher Hitchens.

Saigon and Saddam: The use and abuse of Vietnam analogies by David Greenberg.

Both of these articles essentially claim that, for a variety of factually-correct reasons, it is incorrect and misleading to draw fundamental parallels between the current conflict (the war's over, remember?) in Iraq and the Vietnam conflict (that never was a war, remember?).

I would continue to disagree. Fundamentally, I think the scenarios are too similar in ways that are worrying. In both cases, the world's most powerful military and government just plain got it wrong. In both cases, military action was taken on flawed premises. In both cases planners underestimated the people of the country concerned. In both cases, America initially supported the peoples' biggest enemy - its own government - thereby turning itself at least partially into an enemy of the people, rather than its true saviour. In both cases, the military challenge was underestimated, poorly-handled and offered a more complex challenge than planners expected or assessed. In both cases, poor intelligence was a major factor. In both cases, Western soldiers cannot easily distinguish friend from foe. In both cases you have a uniformed, conventional army facing guerillas. In both cases, suspicious control of the media was exercised. In both cases, popular support at home was a major issue. In both cases, senior members of administration and the military reckoned they would succeed through the use over overwhelming power, constantly making positive statements about "crushing" the enemy, etc. I could go on.

Essentially, in both cases arrogance and a near-criminal wasting of young men was used to prosecute the questionable aims of REMFs. In both cases, the outcome threatens to be the same. A nation that should, for the most part, be lauded for its objectives, its principles and the support and aid it provides for millions around the world is turning itself into a pariah. That's a real shame.

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