Haig says U.S. repeating a mistake it made in Vietnam

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--Former Nixon adviser Alexander Haig said Saturday military leaders in Iraq are repeating a mistake made in Vietnam by not applying the full force of the military to win the war.

"Every asset of the nation must be applied to the conflict to bring about a quick and successful outcome, or don't do it," Haig said. "We're in the midst of another struggle where it appears to me we haven't learned very much."

The comments by Haig, Nixon's chief of staff and also a secretary of state under President Reagan, came at a conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum examining the Vietnam War and the American Presidency.

The conference brought together advisers from the Nixon, Johnson and Kennedy administrations, and talk turned to Iraq where the panelists saw parallels with Vietnam.

Former Nixon Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a rare appearance at the conference. He said he agreed to come out of admiration for the Kennedy family.

Kissinger was greeted outside by about 25 protesters who chanted "Kissinger should go to jail, no bail." He refused to directly respond to a question, submitted by the audience and read by a moderator, that asked if he wanted to apologize for policies that led to so many deaths in Vietnam.

"This is not the occasion," Kissinger said. "We have to start from the assumption that serious people were making serious decisions. So that's the sort of question that's highly inappropriate."

In another audience question, Kissinger was asked whether he agreed that the U.S. bombing of Cambodia led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and, if so, was he responsible for the 2 million people the Khmer Rouge killed?

"The premise that the bombing of a 5-mile strip led to the rise of Khmer Rouge and the murder of two million people is an example of masochism that is really inexcusable," he said.

Kissinger said that the Vietnam War "has fundamentally affected my life in the sense that the Nixon debate doesn't ever seem to end and for many I am the surviving symbol of the Nixon administration."

Kissinger also spoke about the war in Iraq, saying he supported the invasion.

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Leo Dohogne - 3/13/2006

I believe General Haig spent most of his uniformed service in Eurpoe, specifically as NATO commander. No wonder he has a George Bush view of history.

Lets look at some numbers. According the the statistacal abstract of the US for 1970, the population of 15-29 year old makes in 1960 was 17.1 million. In 1969 it was 23.2 million. About 2.6 million men service in Viet Nam. If you average the the two population numbers you get 20.2 million. Therefore about 12.8% of the eligible population served in Nam. More than this were in uniform given the troops in Europe, Japan, Thailand, naval ships etc. I understand that 10% of your population uniform is considered full mobilization.

I also looked up total Viet Nam expenditures. These were $600 million. I do not know if these are current dollars.

To say the U. S. did not apply "every asset of the nation.... to the conflict" is absurd.