Thursday, December 23, 2004

Reminiscent of Nam. And By The Way, How Many American Dead Will There Finally Be?

December 23, 2004

Re: Reminiscent of Nam. And By The Way, How Many American Dead Will There Finally Be?
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.blogspot.com

Dear Colleagues:

Two days ago about 20 Americans were killed and another 70 or so wounded in a single episode in Mosul, Iraq. To those of us old enough to remember, these American casualty figures from a single event sound more like Viet Nam than like the Bush family’s dynastic wars against the Husseins. They also serve to illustrate why anyone who would stand on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declare major combat operations over is a fool-in-chief.

They also illustrate another point which, as far as I know, has been completely ignored by opinion columnists (with one exception, discussed later), and has been ignored in the news columns too except for those news columns in which newspapers felt obliged to report new disclosures about the war. That is to say, the disaster in Mosul brings to mind that Saddam Hussein completely outsmarted George Bush the Second by laying plans for a guerrilla war, not a "regular" war, and taking steps to implement the plans for a guerrilla war, before the conventional American ground invasion ever started. The media doesn’t like to mention this fact -- just as it doesn’t like to mention the planning that apparently is going on for a draft (about which I’ll say more in a later blog) -- because it makes Bush and his fellow incompetent stooges look as foolish as they are.

As said, I know of one exception to the mainstream media columnists’ refusal to discuss that Saddam outsmarted George II in this dynastic war by having his conventional army melt away, rather than be killed, so that its members could then fight a guerrilla war with weapons placed in advance in caches all over the country. Yesterday, Wednesday, December 22nd, William Safire, one of The Times heavy complement of conservative columnists, said it in his opening paragraph. He wrote: "I now admit to having expected the war in Iraq to be won in a matter of months, not years. Saddam’s plan to disperse his forces and conduct a murderous insurgency, abetted by his terrorist allies, was a surprise." Of course, Safire’s opening paragraph was preparation for a column strongly supporting the war, a column that was in part prediction likely to fail, in part hope likely to be forlorn, and, withal, largely crapola. As a practitioner of the art, maybe Safire, who likes to write about words in The Sunday Times, can one day give us the etymology of crapola.

Additionally, in one of its purported news columns yesterday, The Times itself slanted its reporting in a way as reminiscent of Viet Nam as the casualty figures in Mosul reported in another news column. I speak of its reporting in the story entitled Fighting On Is The Only Option, Americans Say. Persons "on the street" were quoted for the proposition that regardless of whether it was a mistake to get into the Iraqi war in the first place, now that we are there we have to proceed. Those who disagree were in effect accused of being traitors. Some other views that were slightly "more nuanced" in the current jargon were also reported, but The Times, with all its self vaunted reportorial resources, seemed unable to find anyone who said "We should get the hell out of there." The closest it came was one woman who, in a fit of paradox, firmly believes we should have fought in Iraq, but thinks we should get out after the election in January.

The Times’ shabby performance reminded me of Nam, when people used to say, "Well, maybe we shouldn’t have gone in there in the first place, but now that we’re there we have to stick it out." So saying, the American dead rose from 5,000 to 10,000, to 30,000, to 40,000, to 50,000 to 59,000 before we finally got the hell out, as we should have no later than 1965 or 1966. One wonders what final totals of dead the same kind of thinking will lead to in Iraq. Will there be 2,000 Americans dead? 5,000? 10,000? 30,000? 40,000? More? These kinds of totals seem inconceivable. But once they were inconceivable in regard to Viet Nam.

The Times’ shabby performance in its slanted article on sticking it out also reminded me of an episode which, I seem to remember, involved a Marine Corps hero, General David Shoup, a former Marine Corps Commandant who was against or turned against the war in Nam. If memory serves, Shoup was being questioned in Congress about his views on the Viet Nam War. One legislator who was questioning him either held, or for purpose of argument deliberately reflected, the view that, now that we were in Nam, it was impossible to withdraw. That legislator asked the General something like, "But General Shoup, how would you withdraw our men?" The question was intended to show that no withdrawal was possible without creating chaos in-country. Not playing this conservative, right wing game, General Shoup’s unexpected answer to the question of "How would you withdraw our men?" was, "By ship and by plane." All this, as I say, is if memory serves correctly, but I think it does.

Well, General Shoup put his finger on exactly how our troops are one day going to be withdrawn from Iraq too. The only question, of course, is when the fool-in-chief is going to order this to occur. Will we have it be when we have 1,500 dead? 2,000? 5,000? 10,000? 20,000? Remember, some of these numbers were once inconceivable in Nam. Bush himself, of course, has possibly created an anti-withdrawal, the-killing-must-go-on monster in public opinion, as The Times’ shoddy article illustrates, although withdrawal will occur someday nonetheless.
There is another relevant point here: If George Bush and his lesser fools had sense (which by definition fools don’t), they would recognize that what you have in Iraq are three separate groups who each want to rule themselves and not be ruled by one of the other two groups. Recognizing this, a sensible American Executive would announce that Iraq will henceforth be three countries, not one, and would turn over the basically Kurd-occupied part of Iraq to the Kurds, the Sunni-occupied part to the Sunnis, and the Shiite-occupied part to the Shiites. Then the Executive would bring our troops home. Dividing Iraq into its three national components has occasionally been discussed in the media. But the people in the Executive seem never to have considered this sensible idea, although the truth is that events on the ground begin to look as if they may force this rather obvious idea on people. There will be a certain irony in it if it occurs, will there not? For in Nam, where the war began with two countries (at least in our eyes), the obvious solution -- the millennia true one for which our enemies were fighting -- was one country. While in Iraq, where the war began with one (relatively recently created) country, the obvious solution is three countries.*

*If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu. Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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