Iraq, Vietnam, and the Bloodbath Theory





Mr. Laderman is Assistant Professor of History, University of Minnesota, Duluth.

By now we have all seen the analogies drawn between the present war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam decades ago. Some of these analogies have been insightful. Some, to put it charitably, have not. Nearly all, however, have focused on how the United States entered and fought both wars. Little attention has been heeded to what the Vietnam war might tell us about the United States getting out of this one. It is an issue that deserves our attention.

More than thirty-five years ago, as American civilian and military opposition to the Vietnam war increased, those advocating continued warfare found themselves in something of a bind. The applicability of the domino theory to Vietnam had been persuasively challenged. The idea that America was fighting for democracy in Vietnam appeared to many observers, given the despotic nature of the successive Saigon regimes, risible. Yet despite the gap between the government’s rhetoric and observable reality, a minority of Americans clung to the idea of the war as a righteous and necessary cause. What little credibility the public explanations for American intervention enjoyed, however, was largely demolished when, in 1971, the top secret Defense Department history of American policymaking in Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers, was leaked to the press by Daniel Ellsberg and published in a number of outlets. It is no wonder, given the extent to which the government’s own analysts put the lie to what American officials had been telling the public for years, that the Nixon administration reacted so hysterically to this turn of events. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that, for much of the American public, the Pentagon Papers shattered what remained of their will to continue the fight in Southeast Asia. American policymakers determined to perpetuate the war were therefore confronted with a crisis.

Today, I would argue, American officials find themselves in a somewhat comparable position. Their public explanations for the Iraq invasion have nearly all been discredited. Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Evidence of the Bush administration’s deception on this issue is voluminous.1 Iraq’s support for al Qaeda? Dick Cheney’s stubborn insistence notwithstanding, no such relationship existed.2 Freedom for the Iraqi people? As is clear from an examination of the factual record, the Bush administration opposed the 2005 election it now touts as perhaps its greatest democratic achievement.3

The Bush administration currently offers two serious public justifications for continuing the war in Iraq. Both have antecedents, though imprecise, in the Vietnam war. The first is the fight against anti-American terrorism. The second, which is my focus in this essay, is what is described as an effort to prevent full-fledged civil war and the chaos and Iraqi bloodshed this would produce. For this the Vietnam war offers possible lessons.

Starting four decades ago, as the credibility of other explanations for intervention suffered, American policymakers began increasingly justifying American involvement in considerable part on the grounds that a military withdrawal would result in a bloodbath in which countless Vietnamese would be killed. The perpetrators of this bloodbath, U.S. officials alleged, would be the revolutionaries fighting the United States and its Vietnamese clients. The total number that would be slaughtered was a matter of dispute. The “lowest estimate,” Senator James Eastland noted in 1972, appeared in what Eastland referred to as Stephen Hosmer’s “superbly researched study of terror as an instrument of Communist policy.”4 According to Hosmer, an analyst for the Defense Department-affiliated RAND Corporation, the number would likely not be “much less than 100,000” persons, and it could very well be “considerably higher.” Other estimates, such as P. J. Honey’s speculation that the “minimum number of those to be butchered will exceed one million and could rise to several times that figure,” were widely accepted by supporters of the American war. Indeed, Eastland maintained, “[t]hat there would be a massive bloodletting is something that is taken for granted by virtually every serious student of Vietnamese affairs.”5 The debate was simply over numbers.

To buttress the bloodbath theory the Nixon administration cited two specific episodes from the recent Vietnamese past: the land reform atrocities in northern Vietnam in the mid-1950s and the “Hue Massacre” of 1968. In both, the Vietnamese revolutionaries were said to have slaughtered thousands of Vietnamese anti-Communists or other supporters of the United States (or France). That the factual basis of the conventional narratives for these episodes was challenged by scholars was, to the White House, apparently immaterial. Citing the land reform atrocities and the “Hue Massacre” to support American policy was simply too convenient to allow abstract notions such as truth and accuracy get in the way.

The bloodbath theory proved beneficial to the Nixon administration because, at a time when a growing number of Americans viewed the Vietnam war as immoral, it restored a moral cast to the American intervention. The war, in other words, was not being waged solely in the furtherance of U.S. interests; it was being waged to prevent the slaughter of innocent Vietnamese. Moreover – and this was crucial to the war’s proponents – the bloodbath potential meant that those calling for a rapid American withdrawal appeared as callous isolationists indifferent to the fate of Vietnamese suffering. Of course, critics of U.S. policy, such as dozens of soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, pointed out an obvious logical shortcoming in the bloodbath hypothesis. “No one wants to witness a ‘blood bath’ in Viet Nam,” the soldiers wrote in a letter to President Nixon in November 1969. “The slaughter which you predict will occur upon our withdrawal is certainly an ugly possibility. But the slaughter in which we are now participating has already cost 40,000 American lives and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives.… We urge you to end our part in this massacre.”6

To Nixon and other proponents of continued intervention, the logical flaw highlighted by the Fort Bliss soldiers was dismissed. As a propaganda contrivance, the bloodbath theory was frankly too attractive in buttressing American policy. But a propaganda contrivance it was. At times the intellectual gymnastics employed by the White House to most forebodingly propagate the theory approached the level of dark comedy. To cite just one example, in an April 1972 conversation between Nixon and Henry Kissinger, the president and his national security advisor spent four minutes debating how, in an approaching speech, Nixon should characterize the likely victims and whether he should claim that “hundreds of thousands” would be killed in a post-withdrawal bloodbath or, more menacingly, “millions” would lose their lives. After going back and forth and back and forth – a spar that today illuminates the weak empirical basis of these earlier White House predictions – Nixon finally concluded it would be “better to say” that only “hundreds of thousands” would be killed.7

I raise all of this because elements of the “bloodbath theory” echo in today’s political culture. Just in the last few weeks the specter of an Iraqi bloodbath has been raised by some of the nation’s more prominent public intellectuals. For example, Stephen Biddle warns in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, a journal influential among the policymaking elite, that in a communal civil war such as the one in Iraq “genocide is a real possibility.” The “risk of mass slaughter,” he wrote, “is especially high.”8 James Carafano of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, in a syndicated newspaper column, agreed. A U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, he claimed, “would be like creating the conditions for a Rwanda writ large,” enabling just “what the terrorists want”: a “no man’s land of bloodletting” that would “turn Iraq into a terrorist Disneyland.”9

For American officials such a prospect must seem at once both a disaster and a boon. It is a disaster because a bloodbath following an elective American war would reflect negatively, to say the least, on those policymakers who framed the invasion and occupation as serving the best interests of the Iraqi people. But it is a boon because, with the absence of weapons of mass destruction, with the emergence of the Iraqi insurgency, and with the rise of an increasingly theocratic government, the potential for a “ Rwanda writ large” restores a moral vision to the American invasion. George W. Bush, in this view, will not be like Bill Clinton, whose administration utterly failed the Rwandan people, not only refusing to intervene in the Rwandan genocide but ensuring that the United Nations proved incapable of doing so. With his political fortunes sagging and support for the war at an all-time low, Bush, under the bloodbath theory, can emerge as the visionary president who not only freed the Iraqi people of Baathist tyranny but who will stamp out terrorism so that its liberation can have meaning.

Would there be a bloodbath following a U.S. military withdrawal this year? The possibility certainly exists; indeed, the prospect seems more compelling today than it did three decades ago. But if the history of the Vietnam war is to provide us with any guidance about the predicament in which the United States currently finds itself, it may be this: Current iterations of a bloodbath theory are not without precedent. The bloodbath hypothesis was trumpeted during the Vietnam war but, not surprisingly to the antiwar movement, failed to materialize.10 For possibly the most searing lesson of the Vietnam war in this context, however, we need to turn not just to history but to elementary logic: In Iraq, as in Vietnam, there is something absurd in perpetuating a bloodbath in order to ostensibly prevent one.

 

1 For merely one contemporaneous exposure of the White House’s deception, see Institute for Public Accuracy, “White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit,” News Release, March 18, 2003, at <http://www.accuracy.org/newsrelease.php?articleId=536> (Accessed on February 22, 2006).

2 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, “Overview of the Enemy,” Staff Statement No. 15 ( Washington, D.C.: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, June 16, 2004), 5.

3 An important corrective to media misinformation about the Bush administration’s early commitment to democratic elections is Seth Ackerman, “Defeated by Democracy: Reported as Triumph, Iraq Elections were Really Bush Team’s Nightmare,” Extra! 18:3 (June 2005): 11-14. In addition to the White House’s opposition to the 2005 national election, in at least one instance L. Paul Bremer III, from May 2003 to June 2004 the chief civilian administrator of Iraq, ordered that a local election (in Najaf) be cancelled when it became apparent that a candidate Bremer did not favor would win, according to senior commanders of the United States Marine Corps. Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, “After Invasion, Point Man for Iraq Was Shunted Aside,” New York Times, March 13, 2006.

4 Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, The Human Cost of Communism in Vietnam, 92nd Congress, 2nd Session (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1972), 2. A number of Eastland’s introductory comments to the compendium were lifted verbatim – but without attribution or any acknowledgement of the source – from a manuscript prepared by R.V.N. diplomat Ta Quoc Tuan. Others were slightly revised. Eastland’s failure to disclose that many of his statements were composed by an official of a foreign embassy – especially in light of the fact that he was careful to include two paragraphs of acknowledgements in his published remarks – must be interpreted as an attempt at deception. For Ta Quoc Tuan’s manuscript, see Ta Quoc Tuan, “The Vietnamese Communist Terrorism,” January 1970, Folder 14, Box 13, Douglas Pike Collection: Unit 05 – National Liberation Front, Vietnam Archive, Texas Tech University [hereafter V.A., T.T.U.].

5 Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, The Human Cost of Communism in Vietnam, 2-3. Excerpts from Hosmer and Honey’s studies were reprinted in the document; their estimates appeared on pages 62-63 and 112, respectively. Eastland’s statement that “virtually every serious student of Vietnamese affairs” was in agreement about the “bloodbath” hypothesis was and is demonstrably false. While the word “virtually” admittedly lent the statement a certain degree of ambiguity, many academic scholars of Vietnam and Asia had challenged, in the years preceding the senator’s allegation, the likelihood of a massive bloodletting following an American defeat. In May 1970, for instance, the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars issued “Twelve Questions on Vietnam,” a document intended to respond to some of the basic questions about the war that the organization believed were being clouded by official misinformation. One of the questions specifically addressed the bloodbath theory; the scholars concluded that, “looking at the question in historical perspective, there is reason to doubt the likelihood of a bloodbath.” The same section of the document also took issue with the Nixon administration’s statements about the “Hue Massacre.” Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, Cornell University, “Twelve Questions on Vietnam,” May 1970, Folder 06, Box 08, Douglas Pike Collection: Unit 03 – Antiwar Activities, V.A., T.T.U.

6 Letter from Thomas J. Burke, et al., to Richard M. Nixon, November 26, 1969, Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, White House Central Files, Subject Files: Speeches (Gen), Box 113, Folder: SP 3-56/Con, 11/6/69 – 2/16/70, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland [hereafter N.A. II].

7 Conversation No. 333-21, Executive Office Building, April 26, 1972, Nixon White House Tapes, Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, N.A. II. Two-and-a-half years earlier Nixon told Sir Robert Thompson, the British counterinsurgency specialist, that “500,000 people in Vietnam would be massacred” following a revolutionary victory, according to a memorandum of conversation between the men. (Henry Kissinger and John H. Holdridge, an N.S.C. senior staffer, were also present at the meeting.) Memorandum of Conversation, “The President’s Remarks to Sir Robert Thompson Concerning the Vietnam Situation,” October 17, 1969, Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, National Security Council Files, Presidential/HAK MemCons, Folder: MemCon – The President, Sir Robert Thompson, et al., October 17, 1969, N.A. II.

8 Stephen Biddle, “Seeing Baghdad, Thinking Saigon,” Foreign Affairs 85:2 (March/April 2006), at <http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060301faessay85201/stephen-biddle/seeing-baghdad-thinking-saigon.html> (Accessed on March 8, 2006).

9 James Carafano, “ U.S. Risks Disaster If It Pulls Troops from Iraq,” Duluth News Tribune, March 18, 2006.

10

Beginning in the mid-1980s, Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl D. Jackson sought to undermine the consensus that no bloodbath occurred in postwar Vietnam by attempting to prove that, by a conservative estimate, at least 65,000 persons were executed in Vietnam from 1975 to 1982.  Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl D. Jackson, “Vietnam 1975-1982: The Cruel Peace,” Washington Quarterly 8:4 (Fall 1985): 169-182; and Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl D. Jackson, “Political Violence in Vietnam: The Dark Side of Liberation,” Indochina Report [Singapore] 6 (April-June 1986): 1-29.  Their work was effectively refuted by Gareth Porter and James Roberts in 1988, however.  Gareth Porter and James Roberts, “Creating a Bloodbath by Statistical Manipulation,” Pacific Affairs 61:2 (Summer 1988): 303-310.  Yet in an essay published in 1990, Desbarats revised her estimate of executions upward to “possibly more than 100,000 Vietnamese people” without acknowledging, let alone engaging, Porter and Roberts’s critique of her and Jackson’s flawed methodology.  Jacqueline Desbarats, “Repression in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Executions and Population Relocation,” in John Norton Moore, ed., The Vietnam Debate: A Fresh Look at the Arguments (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1990), 196-197.


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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Whether it is WMD, War on Terror or Democracy to the Iraqis the American conquest of Iraq has always been couched in, primarily, moral terms and ethical considerations !
Presumably the ever dwindling American public majority, now definitely a minority, that lent their support to this Bush/Wolfowitz initiative did so because of the moral=human content of the package!
The question that I raise here is addressed to that public that is, hopefully, represented by some of the posters on this Forum!
Noting that it is no longer arguable that THERE IS NOW an ongoing daily blood bath in IRAQ resulting from the total break down of the rule of law and the complete inability of the forces of order that ensued from and followed directly the American conquest; What is the moral( and civil?) responsibility of the USA and what should the USA do to stop this BLOOD BATH?
Will the USA abide by the most elementary rule of civilized behaviour; if you break it you pay for it?
Or will (should?) the USA walk away and to hell with the Iraqis?
The USA, having assumed the role (and responsibilities?) of the global policeman , is (duty/honour?) bound to answer the question of this humble citizen of the world !


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Whether it is WMD, War on Terror or Democracy to the Iraqis the American conquest of Iraq has always been couched in, primarily, moral terms and ethical considerations !
Presumably the ever dwindling American public majority, now definitely a minority, that lent their support to this Bush/Wolfowitz initiative did so because of the moral=human content of the package!
The question that I raise here is addressed to that public that is, hopefully, represented by some of the posters on this Forum!
Noting that it is no longer arguable that THERE IS NOW an ongoing daily blood bath in IRAQ resulting from the total break down of the rule of law and the complete inability of the forces of order that ensued from and followed directly the American conquest; What is the moral( and civil?) responsibility of the USA and what should the USA do to stop this BLOOD BATH?
Will the USA abide by the most elementary rule of civilized behaviour; if you break it you pay for it?
Or will (should?) the USA walk away and to hell with the Iraqis?
The USA, having assumed the role (and responsibilities?) of the global policeman , is (duty/honour?) bound to answer the question of this humble citizen of the world !


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Heuisler(Is that correct?)
I am in daily contact with Iraqis of all shades of political and confessional orientations and they all confirm the break down of law and order that resulted from the US invasion.
Some contend that the number of casualties the daily massacres far exceeds that released via the media.
Are you in Baghdad or where in Iraq?
If you happen to be in Baghdad, being the Heuisler that you are, you would be living (and working?) in the GREEN ZONE: the security haven created by and for Americans and fellow travelers and you would not know what is going on outside .
Except, of course, the daily briefing by an American military or his subsidary (US, Israeli, South American,South African ,European etc)mercenary; the same lot that came with US Army and pillaged the Iraqi National Archaeological Museum and burnt down the Baghdad Library while USA troops were surrounding and protecting the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources .(but you would not care about that; would you ?)
On the other hand I do not, I can not, believe that you speak for anybody except your self when you claim:

"BYW the American people don't give a damn about your "moral=human" crap."
I know the US too well to accept that. The existence of people like you, every nation has the corresponding misfortune, will not change my mind!


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Patrick, While by no means averse to the general thrust of your last post, and certainly not to the spirit behind it, I will nonetheless register two important caveats.

1. "repeatedly hammering home divisive issues to keep the ignorant masses divided and off balance" and being "more determined to stick with their selective agenda" describes Rove's approach fairly well EXCEPT, the implied consistency is TOTALLY BOGUS. All these stinking hypocrites really care about is "winning" in the stupidist juvenile deliquent meaning of the phrase. They are in fact crude and totally corrupt opportunists who are anything but "conservative." Frat Boy Bush came to office promising a humble foreign policy and no nation-building. He threw that in the trash on 9-11-01 because "the world changed." Bull F-ing S! We lost four airplanes, two buildings, and a few thousand people. Not a good day, but hardly a dent in America's population, economy, national security, military strength, or international power. Radical Islam was not born on 9-11-01, nor was proliferation of WMD. Airplane hijacking did not begin on that day, neither did attempts to blow up the World Trade Center. But because it suited a weak unelected president in search of an agenda, we had the "war on terror", on Orwellian piece of oxymoronic crap, which meant, in practice, a blind revenge attack on Afghanistan, with no plan. Luckily, the Northern Alliance happened along, so Rummy and the chickenhawks could let their guys doing the real work on the ground improvise a strategy based around giving the NA air support. Then, with their heads swollen by this relative piece of good fortune, the Administration of All-Time Incompetents latched on to the fantasy of a "cakewalk to Baghdad", which was blown out of the PNAC's spineless backside, picked up by Cheney and Rove, and launched "after Labor Day" like all new "products" being "marketed." It was then pre-scheduled for implimentation in early 2003, that being the last convenient season for marching up the Euphrates sufficiently in advance of the 2004 election cycle. The rest is history: the history of America's greatest foreign policy diaster since at least Vietnam (with which it otherwise has very little in common) if not the burning of Washington DC in 1814.

2. "Left vs Right" is a convenient way for lazy journalists to avoid thinking about real issues, and a convenient excuse for a lot of second-rate garbage (present instance, I regret, not excluded) on this website.

Once upon a time, within living memory of at least some of us here, being "conservative" or "on the right" in America meant believing in a prudent foreign policy, balanced budgets domestically, and politeness and respect in personal discourse. Today it means exactly the opposite.

Once upon relatively recently, being "liberal or progressive or left-leaning" meant being farsighted, putting principle above expediency, and energetically supporting creative, bold goverment action to tackle major tangible social problems. What it implies today is about 180 degree from all those prior values.

Using terms such as "left" and "right" is part of America's problem today. We need to denounce laziness, ignorance, sloth, and apathy regardless of what some overpaid clown of a political journalist thinks is the correct "left " or "right" position on any "issue" which the infotainment media deems important (e.g for their marketing purposes). We need to denounce politicians who are cowards (Democrats mostly) and hypocrites (Republicans mostly). And those of us who believe in this kind of thing, which I hope includes you, need to find new ways to come together and throw off the shackles of decadent irrelevancy imposed by dumbed-down officialdom and unaddressed by undifferentiated cyber-deluging.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your last comment contains a few welcome clarifications and a larger number of misunderstandings. [ I am, in particular, talking about what YOU WROTE,

here: "You previously wrote that 'Vietnam was quite different because WE DID NOT START the military activity then.' That is an empirical claim. I responded in my last entry that your statement was not entirely accurate. Rather than concede this point, you have now shifted the focus from American 'military activity' in 1945 to “America’s massive 1965 build-up.” You are of course welcome to do so, but do recognize that that was not the 'START' of American 'military activity' in Vietnam." ]

I will reply, however, only to the last of those misunderstandings, namely, the one just cited.

To the extent that U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Iraq are comparable (and the comparison has certainly been heavily over done by people who ought to know better), then one has to compare apples to apples or one is shooting the breeze to no effect.

American involvement in Vietnam became massive (e.g. hundreds of thousands of troops, a huge fraction of the Defense budget etc.) in 1965 after Gulf of Tonkin. The COMPARABLE year for Iraq is 2003.

Of course, there are long histories of lesser American involvement in both places (and in 1991 a temporarily major prior involvement in Iraq). And one could, of course, compare Iraq during, say 1980-2002, with Vietnam from 1945 to 1965 although those two time periods are not very central to your frankly rather strange (and the more you try to dance around using unpersuasive arguments and semantic dodges to prop it up), increasingly dubious "limited focus."

It is historically untenable and frankly amateurish to try to split hairs about the word "start" and to say that the US-Iraq situation in 2003, which is WHEN AMERICA BEGAN MASSIVE, aggressive, unilateral military action to fundamentally change Iraq's government and future is comparable to US-Vietnam in 1945, when that region was barely a footnote to the international geopolitical and diplomatic policies and operations of the U.S.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

After 25 posts on your own article, it becomes difficult for anyone to see what you are "refraining" from "responding to", other than than to stubbornly refrain from acknowledging that no solid article could concievably require such incessant and indiscriminate reply to every comment made: e.g. that the article itself is quite weak and unpersuasive.

"What exactly does 'prefabricated foregone conclusions' mean?, you ask, dismissively":


An article which starts out by promising a historically-based consideration of how America might exit Iraq in the future, based on how it DID exit Vietnam 33 years ago, thusly:

"Little attention has been heeded to what the Vietnam war might tell us about the United States getting out of this one. It is an issue that deserves our attention"

but then concludes with

"the most searing lesson" being that "in Iraq, as in Vietnam, there is something absurd in perpetuating a bloodbath in order to ostensibly prevent one"

is itself a historical absurdity. The conclusion neither follows from the argument in the article, nor does it even address the initial question in any reasonable thoroughly way UNLESS one takes as an initial Article of Faith that Vietnam is very similar to Iraq. And that thus the several references about bloodbaths in Vietnam automatically apply to the much-hoped for and lazily-conceived, but in fact nearly non-existent, rerun today.

The Bushies have made a lot of dubious and continually shifting arguments about why we are in Iraq, and why we have to stay there. I cannot recall, however, any George W. Bush administration official ever citing prevention of a blood bath as one of those reasons. This is probably related to the fact that, amidst the copious footnotes in your article, not one such reference is to be found.
Nor is there the slightest evidence presented that perpetuating a bloodbath is in any way a central element of a U.S. presence that centers around driving in convoys between armed bases, hoping not to get blown up by improvised road bombs.

After 25 appeals, it is time for the writer of the C- paper to stop incessantly haggling for a higher grade, painting himself into corner after corner, and instead go back and write a new paper with a consistent and convincing historical argument this time. At least a dozen far more valuable and plausible possibilities can be found amidst the comments on this page. I will look forward to seeing the new effort. If the topic again purports to involve the derviation of viable historical parallels between massive deployment of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in Vietnam in the 1960-70s, and in Iraq today, I doubt that tourism will feature highly in any such new article deserving of a higher grade than this barely passing effort.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Dr. Laderman:

The semantics here are creating more confusion than they are worth. Let me attempt to clear up the muddied waters.

1. I think we can probably agree that massive intervention in Vietnam dates from the early 1960s (not 1945) and the massive intervention in Iraq (apart from the few months of the Gulf War of 1991) from the March 2003 invasion

2. I think we are also both in agreement that both these interventions were major American mistakes that have had disastrous consequences for the United States.

3. We also seem to be in accord that the current disaster in Iraq is still ongoing, and it behooves America to try to find a way out, using historical parallels if there are anything usable ones.

4. We, however, do not seem to be in agreement about the degree of relevance of the Vietnam experience to our current predicament. I would rate it as dangerous and ridiculously over-stressed, particularly by the pitiful joke that calls itself an anti-war movement today. You seem to have an agenda to make as many parallels as possible regardless of relevance to current decision-making.


5. In your comment #86167 above you stated:

"The question for me...is whether a continued American military occupation is the most appropriate means of [aiding Iraq’s recovery]...The Iraqi people have certainly made their preference known....fewer than one percent of Iraqis, according to [a 2005 poll] believe that American and British military involvement is helping to improve security in the country."

Taken together with your article which talks about "a U.S. military withdrawal this year" this remark cited in the prior paragraph certainly implies, though it does not explicitly state, that the wishes of the Iraqi people are a good reason for America to now quickly pull its military out of Iraq. I disagree with that.

6. One of the several points of my replying comment #86204 -though admittedly not spelled out explicitly- was that although such an argument (about the locals wanting us out) might have applied to Vietnam, albeit with a much lower percentage than the 99% in Iraq (you are the Vietnam specialist so I will defer to your figure for how many Vietnamese wanted us out by say, 1968 three years after we went in force: probably a sizable majority, I would suppose) the locals-want-us-out argument is NOT a good one for the Iraq situation today.

Because: Iraq and Vietnam are VERY different, in particular, the Iraq conquest of 2003 was a conscious premeditated American invasion of a country that was not at war, and whose people overwhelmingly did not want an American invasion. Simply Pulling out cannot possible undo that horrible blunder. UNLESS we make some MAJOR changes along with pulling out. Such as (for ONE) properly punishing the leader who is "worst President in American history" according the characterization of at least one Noble Prize laureate. Apparently you either disagree with this view, or I was not clear enough the first time around for you to see where we do agree.

7. Nothing that happened in Indochina in 1945 has any significant bearing on the radical difference between the 1965 long-term build-up to intervene in a PRE-EXISTING CIVIL WAR versus the EXTREMELY INVASION OF A COUNTRY NOT AT WAR (with America, any other country or itself).

8. I gather from your prior comments that you are put off than I am not addressing the bloodbath question. Fine: I think it is mostly a straw man. The Heritage Foundation is not the Bush Administration (whatever the former might like to think!). Most of the pro-Administration arguments against leaving Iraq seem to be along the lines of: "if we don't fight the terrorists in Iraq then they we will have to fight them in America." There is a historical parallel there, by the way: Domino Theory. Better luck with that article.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

With an ode to "accuracy," detruncate by appending to

"Nothing that happened in Indochina in 1945 has any significant bearing on the radical difference between the 1965 long-term build-up to intervene in a PRE-EXISTING CIVIL WAR versus the EXTREMELY INVASION OF A COUNTRY NOT AT WAR (with America, any other country or itself)"

the words

in 2003


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Charles, Even a "war of attrition" has an identifiable enemy. Why not call the Iraq mess what it really is, a bungled occupation, and a failed attempt at inept improvised nation-building on the cheap ? Following Rove's Orwellian bull and calling it a "war", means that you're unpatriotic if you criticize the commander in chief. The clearest proof of this political folly is the defeat of John Kerry who shredded the Frat Boy in that first debate only to choke at the polls on his own waffle despite having what could have been a winning issue (except for his colossal hypocrisy in voting for the 2002 blank check): the Iraq disaster.

I respectfully but firmly disagree that "the war in Iraq stands as firm evidence of a...neo-conservative policy" (I extremely strongly do agree about the towering ineptitude of this administration which I elided out of your statement). There were no WMDs to disarm Saddam of. There were no Al Qaeda bases either. And we are not getting Iraq's oil at anything below market price. We do have military bases, but do you think these bungling administration chickenhawks, who look to have three new nuclear powers to their credit (N. Korea, India, and Iran) before they leave office, will manage to do anything much with those bases? No, we are in Iraq to build some kind of government that is in some way clearly better than Saddam's. So far we have managed to build no real goverment at all.

"We don't do nation-building" said G.W. Bush in 2000. Indeed, and a temporary acquiesence to the disgraced incompetent and arrogant PNAC and their treasonous ilk in 2003 does not change that reality.







Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"To which parallels are you referring?"

Your article here, e.g.:

"Little attention has been heeded to what the Vietnam war might tell us about the United States getting out of this [war (sic) ]. It is an issue that deserves our attention."

It deserves our attention indeed because airheaded so-called anti-war kooks who don't give a damn about America and newly minted profs who want to sell dissertations when they are published are concocting parallels, wasting time, and making America an international laughingstock due to their utter irrelevance and total lack of any impact, instead of THINKING CAREFULLY ABOUT WHAT CAN BE DONE AS A PRACTICAL MATTER.

Here's a parallel for you:

Did VVAW, Tom Hayden, Pete McCloskey, etc. spend most of their time trying to nostalgically replicate the Labor Union movement of the 1920s or the Suffragettes of the 1910s? NO NO NO. They addressed the central issue of their time squarely, honestly, forcefully, and (ultimately effectively).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...are quaking and quivering. Thunder and lightning and brimstone and firepower. Awesome display, St. Patrick. May the HNN Hypocrites heed your righteous ironic wrath, and repent, even as snowballs melt in Satan's current and Karl Rove's future abode.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Despite all the footnotes, this is really quite weak. The author dives head first into Karl Rove's Double-speak trap by deciding that the current predicament in Iraq amounts to a "war". Because America was attacked on its soil (never mind that it was not Iraqis who attacked on 9-11-01) and because those now attacking U.S. personnel in Iraq are demonstrably evil (beheading civilians on TV, etc.) it is therefore prima facie unpatriotic not to wave the flag, close the mind, and resist any criticism of the "war" in Iraq.

In reality, there is no real war in Iraq. In a war, even a metaphorical war, like the "war on cavities" or the "war on terrorism", there is an identifiable enemy. Who is the enemy in Iraq? Violence? Sorry, "war on violence" is too glaring an oxymoron even for Karl Rove's couch potato dupes. If America is "at war" in Iraq because uniformed men are being killed in the line of duty there, then America has been "at war" with itself in every innner city slum across the country for decades. It is time to stop repeating the asinine propaganda: the purpose of the "war in Iraq" was to ELECT (not reelect) the "War President" in 2004. Thinking people need not repeat old election campaign baloney.

There are, of course, similarities to Vietnam. Lack of a mission, repeated deceptions by the U.S. government as to what is going on, colossal waste of taxdollars for what amounts to a hugleu negative effect on U.S. security, for staters. But these are difficult concepts for the American couch potato to grasp.

The DIFFERENCES to Vietnam, by contrast, are stark and tangible. No draft, casualties running at about 1/10 the rate. And, last but not least, EVIL threatens America. We have lost track of Osama: for all we know he could be in Baghdad now. Better kill him there now, before he comes to Omaha. Tens of thousands of Iraqi collateral casaulties are nothing compared to the pain of having to get up from the TV and think.

In addition to the differences between Vietnam and Iraq in the mind of the cheese-doodle snacking couch U.S. potato, there are further vast historical differences:

1. War had been raging in Vietnam for many years by the time the U.S. troop build up there really got going after Gulf of Tonkin. There was brutal repression and misery but no war in Iraq when America bombed, invaded, and occupied it in 2003. This is a tremendous difference. It is like night and day to (a) go into to a country (Vietnam) that has already been messed up by military action for decades, try to fix things, fail, realize it's hopeless, and leave versus (b) going in to a country that is tyranny but a stable tyranny, depose the tyrant, but turn his victims over to a hydra-headed climate of lawlessness, mayhem and rule of the jungle. This time it is OUR mess. We broke the pottery and we now own it and cannot pay anyone to take the broken shards off our hands. We cannot morally just walk away now saying "Sorry we weren't paying attention when our juvenile deliquent president bumbled his way into your country after our spineless Congress gave him a blank check to show how titanically incompetent he is."

2. The American economy in 1970 was not hugely dependent on the Jungles of Indochina. Thanks to our idiotic SUV and sprawl-based DisEconomy today, we ARE hugely dependent on the 80+% of the world's remaining oil reserves that are in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

"We need to turn not just to history but to elementary logic" sayeth author. But how about elementary morality? America's predicament in Iraq is America's fault, and guess what folks, THE REST OF THE WORLD KNOWS THIS!!! It is time FINALLY do the RIGHT THING and stop the endless "left versus right" circle chasing.

We should NEVER have invaded Iraq for a long-term project in nation-building in 2003 without international support, without a consistent rationale that applies to other times and places, without a plan, without consideration of the track-record and competency of those in charge of the invasion, and without a commitment commensurate with the necessary long-term sacrifice.

Of all the stupid things Americans have done (and yes we do plenty of smart and positive things too, there are other pages on HNN to talk about those, and Memorial Day and 4th of July and the national anthem at baseball games, etc.) our shooting-ourselves-in-the-foot on Iraq is one of the all-time most glaring.

We cannot impeach, recall, or replace in office "We the People". We can however hold our miserably failed leaders accountable.

Thank God America HAD far-sighted leaders in 1780s who gave us a Constitution able to withstand a government run by one of the biggest bunches of nitwits, bumglers, cowards and BSers since the Fall of Rome.

That constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare war, and by extension, to send our military in dangerous NON-war situations abroad.

Most of the members of the House and Senate who voted for the Iraq blank check of 2002 are still in offices they forever disgraced by that infamously cowardly vote. There can be no extrication from the Iraq "predicament" until our country pulls his head out of the sand, faces the awesome horror of what our leaders, with our apathetic acquiesence, willingly and quite needlessly did to us. And then throws these incompetent betrayers of our country onto the scrap heap of history. It's either that or make Iraq the defacto 51st are turn it over to the next tyrant who could be worse (Saddam was quite a bungler himself -he successor is likely to be savvier).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

or make Iraq the defacto 51st STATE OR turn it over to the next tyrant

in the final sentence above


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...they just get repeated ad nauseum by dupes and deceivers.

"A link" between Iraq and Al Qaeda is not the issue. It is a cheap smokescreen designed to dupe couch potato fools who by noon cannot remember what they ate for breakfast.

Of course in today's globalized world everything is linked to everything. George W. Bush is ultimately linked to the international price of cocaine, HNN is linked to the grades of students posting here instead of doing homework, Karl Rove is linked to his long term future in hell.

So Beeping What?

High School Quiz time folks:

1. Have Bin Laden and Al Qaeda been most closely linked to

a) Saudi Arabia?
b) Pakistan?
c) The Bush family?
d) Iraq?

2. After 9-11-01, which nests of evildoers did America bomb, invade, and occupy

a) Saudi Arabia?
b) Pakistan?
c) Crawford, TX?
d) Iraq?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Save your rage please for those who oppose every thing you say, instead of just part of it.Recognize that whatever the horrors perpetrated (and Pol Pot, for example, was not on the US payroll) in SE Asia, the U.S. military had clearly identifiable enemies in the Vietnam conflict: the government in Hanoi, the North Vietamese military, the Viet Cong. Who is the enemy in Iraq now that Saddam is reduced to screaming in the courtroom? The enemy changes about once a month, along with the bogus explanations for why America is even wasting its military might there (while helping other countries get WMD). It Vietnam the objective was ridiculous, unworkable, and disastrous, but at least there WAS A CLEAR OBJECTIVE: Preserve South Vietnam from being absorbed by the North.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Laderman,

The propaganda barrage to which you have been subjected from Rovians such as Heuisler and Keuter here is no worse than that to which scores of prior article-writers have been subjected. If you somehow expected a “meaningful engagement” with those sorts of posters, then you did not do your due diligence before sending in an article to this website.

You may also wish to note that far less than 1 author in 10 on HNN ever submits a single comment to his own article. In most cases, I assume because they have better things to do, or greater confidence in the clarity and solidity of what they wrote. I would also add that I have read a great many HNN articles and comment boards (possibly approaching the number read or misread by Heuisler) and cannot ever recall such an outpouring by an author with so many remarks along the lines of “I will not respond” or “that is not relevant.” When it comes to nitpicking semantic dodges and misattributions in the comments, yours are by far not the worst ever seen here, but that observation, I am afraid, is necessarily a factually-based “damning with faint praise.”

I do genuinely hope that you will think seriously about writing an article in the future debunking some of the “charitably” “non-insightful analogies” between Vietnam and Iraq. That would be far more useful, to the field of history, and to popular understanding of the Iraq mess, than trying to rescue the largely bogus parallel you tried to concoct in the heavily recycled article here, and you ought to have the scholarly knowledge for that other much more worthy effort.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Laderman:

Hueisler himself can probably tell you how many scores or hundreds of times I have been at loggerheads with him on HNN (not infrequently involving him not wanting to "do homework") and how rarely we ever find ourselves in agreement on anything, but "dancing" pretty fairly describes your repeated lame evasions here. They are spewed across this page with a degree of indiscriminate ineffectiveness reminiscent of what the U.S. Air
Force did to the jungles of Indochina in the 1960s and '70s

It is, of course, extremely difficult to say whether and to what extent the Cambodian genocide was caused by (a) American incursions into and bombing of Cambodia in the early 1970s, or (b) the Fall of Saigon and the final end of major American involvement in Southeast Asia or (c) a host of other mostly domestic factors.

But the question is not just begged, it comes blasting with a fanfare out of your article. If your thesis is not a complete farce, then you have to be prepared to at least address point (b). To incessantly pretend for the umpteenth time that a direct outcome or implication of your historically tangential and politically dubious piece is "not relevant" is the height of shoddy history-writing, and evasive disingenuousness.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The Kindergarten playground question, "who started it?" applies here.

Such elemental morality must, at a minimum, proscribe behavior which (1) grotesquely disregards the (more than sufficiently) "apparent wishes of most Iraqis" in order to perform an unwanted bungled "cakewalk" invasion
of their country because it suit the campaign strategy of Karl Rove in 2002-03 and the spineless cowardice of his Democratic rubberstampers then, yet now, some years later want to (2) use those same "apparent wishes" as an excuse to cut and run. Such blatant hypocrisy is colossal in its historical extreme. Vietnam was quite different because WE DID NOT START the military activity then.

Of course, we are going eventually to cut and run, but (and here when it comes to how rather than why, I think Vietnam CAN be a guide) if we continue to drift along, accepting Orwellian double-speak framing of the issues, etc. then it may well take a regime change like that 1968 to do it. In order for THAT to happen, e.g. new tough talking Republicans to assume power in order to cut and run while calling it "peace with honor" or some such fig leaf of respectability, we of course first need the current Republicans out. So if there are two switches of party domination, we are talking about 2012 at the earliest.

Not a cheery prospect.

Why not just impeach Cheney, Rummy, and Bush right now for treason, war crimes, violation of civil rights, violation of common sense, and breaking the ten commandments, etc. and then let a new bunch of replacement Republicans then do the cutting and running from the broken pottery?

We already impeached a president for lying about adultery. How hard can it be to impeach one for lying about murder or bearing false witness or deliberately weakening America's national security ?








Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

And if America had never intervened militarily in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and '70s, none of this would have happenend ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr, Laderman,

I don't know what your position on Iraq was in 2002-03, so I cannot possibly be accusing YOU personally of hypocrisy now for taking a position that is a flagrant reversal of an unknown earlier stance. Indeed I accuse and meant to accuse no particular other individual or sets of individuals of that particular hypocrisy.

What I meant and mean was that it WOULD BE blatant hypocrisy for America (as a whole and in the all-crucial eyes of the rest of the world) to use the "apparent wishes" of the Iraqi people as an excuse to run away (e.g. in 2006 or 2007) from a mess that America largely created as a result of violently, clumsily and ineptly barging into Iraq in 2003 in arrogant presumptuous defiance of the wishes of the Iraqis or the wishes of anyone else except for small groups of incompetent warmongering traitors such as those in the "Project for a New American Century." As far as I know, however, those disgraced arrogant ex-cakewalkers are not now advocating prompt US withdrawal from Iraq in deference to "apparent Iraqi wishe," so they are also not accused by me of this particular form of hypocrisy.

I did and do accuse the fomenters and ratifiers of the 2003 invasion of a DIFFERENT SET of hypocrisies (among other failings) for claiming or acquiescing in the claim that suddenly then and there America had to invade Iraq. We did not invade Saudi Arabia or Pakistan after 9-11 even though they were more closely linked to Al Qaeda than Iraq. We did not invade to overthrow Saddam in 1983 or 1993 when he was much closer to having weapons of mass destruction capability (than in 2003). The folly of 2002-03 was based on a towering Hypocrisy of time and place committed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell (who also violated his own "doctrine"), and by the Congressional wimps and fools who helped give them their blank check, i.a. senators Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Feinstein. (I also accuse the so-called "antiwar movement" of pitiful irrelevance in ignoring this hypocrisy in order to wave Palestinian flags, block highways, and hold up "no blood for oil” signs instead, but that shamefully willful mass feel-good foolishness is not germane to this discussion here, except insofar as it is based on unhistorical anti-Vietnam-war nostalgia which your article -which I am not thusly accusing, by the way- may or may not incidentally be designed to appeal to).

The documented form of past individual hypocrisy in 2002-03 is not the same as the hypothetical collective future hypocrisy that would be exhibited by America as whole were it to cut and run from Iraq, giving Iraqi wishes as an excuse.

What does this all have to do with your article ?

1. You don't focus on the hypocrisy that got us into Iraq. Indeed the historical origins of America's massive military involvements in Iraq and Vietnam are fairly well bypassed altogether. It is not a trivial omission to leave out completely a discussion of the causes of a problem when discussing possible solutions to that problem.

2. You suggest that we should leave Iraq because a large majority of Iraqis (probably) would like us to. This is neither a morally justifiable position given that our regime change and nation-building there is incomplete (e.g. we smashed Saddam's regime but have not yet established a viable successor) nor do you show that it is likely to be used as a major rationale in the future. (This, by the way, points to another vast difference to Vietnam where our mission was essentially defensive: keeping Hanoi from taking control of S. Vietnam, not trying to improvise, from scratch, and on the cheap, a stable pro-Western democracy in a region that has never had one. I do not mean to imply that there is any obvious way now for America to fulfill its obligation to give the Iraqis a viable government back, having first smashed their old tyrannical but relatively stable regime, but I don’t think we can pretend that this obligation does not exist, by merely washing our hands and walking away from our mess. We need to, at a minimum, prove to the world that we accept responsibility for our 2002-03 folly, and step one in that process is to properly call to account and punish those who made the folly happen.)

3. Your comparative discussion of the bloodbath arguments c. 35 years ago and now is interesting but not central to the key historical questions of how America got in and out Vietnam and into Iraq, and how it might get out of Iraq in the future. It is in the realm of hypothetical counterfactuals to say that the Cambodian genocide could have been averted if America had stayed in Indochina longer or never gone in the first place.

P K Clarke


P.S. Re your latest post: The fact that America was trivially involved with the French restoration in 1945 is about as relevant to the origins of America's massive 1965 build-up there as the attacks of 9-11-01 are to the real reasons why Cheney and Bush were so obsessed with wanting to go after Saddam on 9-12-01. Not totally irrelevant, but hardly central.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is a continuation of the thread above that began with “A Bloodbath Did Not Materialize”, and is a response, in particular to Scott Landerman's comment #86496 "Re: Laderman's dancing
April 13, 2006 at 9:47 AM"

Finally, the dancing and rote utterances of "not relevant" have abated long enough here for an acknowledgement how understanding the Cambodian genocide is critical to this whole discussion. Bill Heuisler, who would not be satisfied with anything less than universal enlistment by all HNN posters in USMC followed by monolithic pro-Rove cheerleading from all, them will not be pleased by this hypothesis, but I am inclined to agree that destabilization in the wake of U.S. incursions and interventions in Cambodia helped strengthen the Khmer Rouge before the capture of Saigon in 1975, and in no way did I "imply" that such strengthening happened only after Spring, 1975.

That, however, does not rule out the very solid probability that HAVING destabilized the situation in Cambodia in 1970-73, for the U.S. to then withdraw completely, helped turn the potential mass slaughter by the Khmer Rouge into a more likely possibility. It was not something predicted in advance (as Laderman notes, the bloodbath fears at the time were more about what Hanoi would to do Saigon) and there was no strategic interest of the U.S. compelling it to stay in the Southeast Asian quagmire. Thus the pullout was justified. America should never have gone into Vietnam and there was never any good solution except withdrawal (“Peace with Honor” was a double lie).

Nevertheless, as Laderman also observed, "there may be a parallel" with a somewhat similar "radicalization" going on now in Iraq. And, unlike Vietnam in the 1970s, America does have major strategic interests at stake in the Mideast. Once we liberate the discussion from Ladermann's prefabricated foregone conclusions, it becomes apparent that the bloodbath theory, although relatively insignificant compared to the major issues at stake in the current Iraq disaster, nonetheless points to the importance of finding a exit quite DIFFERENT from the one used in Vietnam, e.g. exactly the opposite of the unpersuasive finding advanced by Laderman’s original article, now dwarfed by his many comments (more than any other poster) which have failed to rescue it from its manifold flaws.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Patrick,

Expecting a meaningful, straightforward, honest, fair, objective or respectful dialogue with BH is like believing in the Easter Bunny: understandable, praiseworthy even, but ultimately a hopeless illusion. Every newcomer to HNN must, moreover, come to this uncomfortable reality on his or her own, after dozens of fruitless posts. And, that points to his true role on this website, and to the ultimate reason why this serial abuser of History and torpedoer of informative dialogue is tolerated here: he greatly boosts the number of "hits".


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Peter,

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

This is a lesson all free thinkers must heed. As the right demonstrates, again and again, there is no substitute for tenacity or staying power. A fine example being Mr. Heuisler, who was clearly outclassed, bulldog approach in dealing with Professor Laderman until the poor fellow cried uncle out of shear frustration in dealing with our resident rock head.

The left is notorious for giving in, moving on and seeking/ tackling new challenges. Free thinkers bore easily and the rightist know this.

This is why rightists keep the message simple and repeatedly hammer home divisive issues to keep the ignorant masses divided/ off balance and consequently, on the right side of the polls. All the while boring the free thinkers to tears who then subsequently, give up out of pure frustration. It is not that the right is any smarter... in fact they are the absolute epitome of ignorance in almost every arena. The right is just more determined to stick with their selective agenda. It is why the right can so easily tag the left as not having any coherent programs or fresh ideas.

Our current War on Terror is a classic lesson...

Compare the comments again from our leading free thinker mentioned above...

"First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

With the actions of our current rightist leaders...

Use the thought/ threat of fear as a weapon against our own to force retreat so that the right can establish the moral high ground and brush aside the left as weak and indecisive. Never allow or encourage the masses to think for themselves. They only thing the right has is fear. It is there friend/ accomplice, trademark and primary tool to advance/maintain control over the vast majority.

My battles with our numbskull friend have been going on for two years however, my tenacity will never waiver and someone needs to keep this page free of parasites. It is a dirty/ thankless job and I, very much like you, am not afraid to get my hands dirty or nose bloodied to complete the the task at hand...

We must always remain vigilant and on duty.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Arnold,

Don't ever give up and surely do not allow your frustrations to get the better of you. I know, as it is really a struggle to keep things in perspective especially, in these trying times with right wing Republicans running wild and tearing our great nation apart limb by limb. But, with calm perseverance we can overcome these troubled times and these fascist leanings.

You are an outstanding intellect and strong will type who adds a great deal of reason and balance to all your posts. You are very much admired from this lookout point.

BH really isn't a bad guy and if we only get him to show a touch of grace or a tad of humility or an inkling of kindness toward others all our labors and hair pulling frustration will have paid off in spades.

Keep hammering away Arnold. Only as a team can we change the world... one view, one person at a time.

Take care...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Peter,

My ill use of the terms right and left is only to help me differentiate the Bush supporters... right... from the questioners... left... it's simple ease for my level of understanding.

You are absolutely correct in that these labels are ineffective/ no longer relevant however, the overall situation seems to be worse than either of us could imagine as per the Sunday talk circuit and I missed the McLauglin Group show this morning... Tony Blankely is the one to watch as Pat B. is irrelevant and Eleanor, God Bless her soul, drowns under the weight of the continual weekly wingnut onslaught.

We really need to follow your always sage advice now more than ever and come together as one/unified peoples before things spin totally out of control... and the Bushies don't seem to care/ absolutely oblivious to real time conditions/ events... they are too ill prepared to manage/ influence/ dictate/ formulate or drive solutions to problems they created that are well out distancing/ racing away from them... other than the use of overwhelming brute force to solve/ exacerbate "the troubles" these guys are basically sucking wind.

How could we ever let this lifelong failure take control of the helm is beyond/defies all reasonable comprehension/logic.

The discussion now has moved forward to a potential uprising within certain segments (retirees) of the military against the Administration, a proposed 'Falluja Treatment' for Baghdad and the continued push for military action against Iran in spite of the wrestling match between top brass and Rummy.

The next few weeks should be quite exciting and telling. I know that I'll be seeking solace here at HNN.

Take care...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Moslem fanatics?

Especially, as we are all fully well aware of the documented nonexistence of Christian fanatics or lunatic Religious Right or crackpot Christian Coalition within the confines of the good old God fearing U.S of A.

That' s because our loving, benevolent, caring, trustworthy Christian leadership of fellows would never preach or instill hate in the sheep who follow these Sons of God. No siree. With a bible in one hand and the other in your wallet or on the breasts of your teen age daughter these holy of holies are pure in heart, thought and deed.

No need to encourage any parishioner to bomb the local Planned Parenthood Clinic or blow away that devil of a doctor who performed that there abortion or head home after mass to beat the wife. The righteous seeds of these acts of love are planted by those subhuman Moslem fanatics.... right Wilbur?

Because they hate our FREEDOM!

Only Moslems are religious FANATICS!

Only Moslems are filled with HATE!

That's why we need to blast everyone of these brown heathens into the afterlife to the burning flames of hell. Just ask Marion 'Pat' Robertson or Jerry Falwell or James Dobson or that paragon of religious tolerance the Reverend Fred Phelps.

God Hates Fags and the US Troops who surely must die because of these fags and while were at it let's add Moslem fanatics to this list of those that God hates for good measure and just to be on the safe side of His eternal love.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Bill,

Provide the number of civilian dead in Iraq from the US invasion?

You're so cocksure about everything under the sun yet, cannot answer a simple question nor disprove that Iraq is not a bloodbath.

Let's go resident HNN scholar. Get it in gear or get packing.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Professor Laderman,

For what it is worth, from this end of the wire, you presented yourself very well, are extremely knowledgeable and I am quite sure an excellent teacher in the classroom who is sending out the very best/ brightest/ fully prepared students from the University of Minnesota, Duluth to face the difficult challenges of the real world.

One final question that I did not ask was what effect/differences do you believe that Vietnam by being basically a homogenous people versus Iraq, being less so, have on the outcome/ potential outcomes as the US left/ will leave these societies? Did being homogenous have any impact on why there was not a greater loss of life in Vietnam post 1975 than actually occurred?

Your participation in this forum was greatly admired and appreciated. Most posters here are regulars and tremendously knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects. Our demeanor and manners could be better at times but. we are basically a harmless bunch.

My hope is that you will continue to submit essays to HNN and join in the discussions which, in this case, was exceptionally lively because of your dedicated participation.

Take care and good luck.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Bill,

It's you who needs reminded that this is a HISTORY site.

Save your wingnut radio induced blather for someone like the good professor, who is way too kind, by even coming here to HNN to chat with the miserable likes of you and so much the gentleman not to kick you square in the nuts, as you rightly deserve, for the hissy fit display you treated us to above.

If he were me he'd have called you out as the agent provocateur and disseminator/ propagator of this 'big lie' foisted upon the our great nation by the Republican thugs in the White House, both past and present, that you really are.

Seeing as I am not so kind nor unwilling not to knock you back down into the slime ridden hole you crawled from you've made the fatal error of dropping down to this web within the thread.

"Come to Iraq". Tell us Zinni Junior or is it Joulwan II... just how goes it on your daily patrols through the peaceful streets of Sadr City? Regal us of your MySpace moments and ball tossing with the kids while sharing a Coke-Cola and shooting the breeze with the locals.

How safe is it Frontline Bill? We've lost (35) troops so far in April and it is only the 12th with (3) more pending unconfirmed dead today.

Tal Afar and Baquba are safe for US troops because we dare not venture into these sectors but, for regular Iraqi's it's the wild, wild west... your BS is akin to comparing the gated communities of Palm Beach while totally ignoring the 8 Mile to claim that the whole of the USA is as safe as milk.

http://siteinstitute.org/bin/articles.cgi?ID=publications148506&;Category=publications&Subcategory=0

Then you scribble, "The death toll is far less than the executions under Saddam and if the candy-ass reporters would get out of their Baghdad hotels they might discover the Iraq chapter of the war on terror is succeeding very well."

Tell us 'Oh Denier' of the Lancet Report just how many Iraqi civilians have perished in your war. You avoided this question two weeks ago like it had Aids so answer it now? See if you can give us better figures that your alleged Vietnam or Kampuchea bloodbath supported figures that the professor so easily pushed back in your face.

And give us the low down on those lying, no good reporters... How many of these candy asses have died... (81) maybe... Why don't you e-mail Bob Woodruff and tell him your worthless opinion...

Then to complete your hat trick of stupidity you claim, "American people don't give a damn about your "moral=human" crap."

Since when did you become the voice of America and who designated you as spokesperson and moral compass to the will of our and Omar's people. You are the most pompous creature the good Lord ever had the misfortune to have hatched. No wonder 3/4 of the world hate us and the other 1/4 want to kill us.

And Omar you keep on posting there are many of us who want to listen and learn and piss on anyone who says otherwise!


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Omar,

We need not confuse the ethics/ morality of the American people and our troops with the pretenders/ usurpers in the White House who through the most highly successful coup d'etat in world history commandeered the greatest nation ever conceived and have driven it like a drunk driving teen behind the wheel of a Corvette to the curve of Armageddon.

Compassionate Conservative is a sound bite for mentally deficient 30% 'er hicks who barely made it through 8th grade, molest their stepdaughters and identify themselves as the Republican base.

If you were to openly state in public, "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did" they would have you locked up in Belle View, in a sleeveless jumpsuit, writing with crayons and eating jello without the use of metal utensils before this poster hits submit.

We are in a real pickle... Iraq is a bloodbath regardless of what some brain dead nincompoops may spew.

Sectarian murder, roaming death squads, tit for tat killings, decapitated innocence's found daily in the streets, no cohesive movement toward a centralized government, poorly managed/trained/equipped/motivated/infiltrated Iraq police and army, totally destroyed infrastructure, no jobs, no oil pumping, billions missing, US war profiteering run amok...

However, all is not lost/hopeless because we the American people here at home are winning... we know the truth... we know we've been hoodwinked and we are taking back our nation... the 30% ers are shrinking faster than Rush's shriveled/atrophied member... and they are scrambling. The only problem is that like a cornered rat the Administration may do something stupid... like use a nuke against Iran... November 7, 2006 is coming on fast and the incumbents are fearful... many will be looking for work at FOX or with the K Street Group... and Fitz is getting prepped for further indictments.

If the recent immigration rallies are any example we need to collectively gather and force Congress to listen to us... the people... seek a cease fire... commit to rebuilding Iraq without the profiteers at the table... give EXXON the boot and return Iraq to it's rightful owners... the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds... As long as US troops are in country as aggressors/ buffers to aggression then this strife will never end.

We need to keep on banging the drum... LOUD & LOUDER...

Take care...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Bill,

Where are you? Did you happen to get abducted by aliens in the Arizona desert (as if we could only be so lucky) or go on a two day drunken binge or are you just at a loss for words to substantiate your tired/ worn out rhetoric and misinformed opinions that you continually try to pass off with unmitigated audacity as gospel truth on the pages of this site.

What's the answer... now over (2) weeks past due... to the basic question to provide the number of civilian dead in Iraq from the US invasion? Any number will suffice. Even Mr. Bush had the sober wherewithal to hang his hat on 30,000. Surely, you could post that number in full view for all and in agreement with a Harvard MBA. Who then would or could refute you?

"I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis." -- George W. Bush, December 12, 2005 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I realize you loathe dealing/responding to me as our mutual feelings of dislike for each other have been evident since day one however, I would never suspect you of being as gutless as you appear to be in responding to this base inquiry.

Seeing as how you are much admired from this foxhole I will even help you along... when learning how to count my child start with zero and proceed... one, two, three, four... one hundred thousand... three hundred thousand...

Yes, you read correctly, being that you are math deficient/ challenged... three hundred thousand... 300,000... a three followed by five zeros... and be sure the subjects in question meet that most essential of criteria in the formulation of this total... that of being STONE COLD DEAD!

It appears as if Mr. Les Roberts is back in the news as is his excellent/ well formulated/ exhaustive/ thoroughly validated/ fully vetted study for the highly acclaimed Lancet as the following talking points are from his February 8, 2006 interview as conducted by Dahr Jamail and Jeff Pflueger and published April 13, 2006.

Before you thank me or cough up any sizeable hair balls... here are a few select quotes for you to choke on...

"there may be as many as 300,000 Iraqi civilian deaths"

"Making conservative assumptions, we think about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children and that eighty-four percent of the deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces."

"And so, those who attacked us did not attack us for our methods. In fact, I think, if you read the reviews in the Wall Street Journal or The Economist, of what we did, the scientific community is quite soundly behind our approach. The criticism is of the imprecision. But realize the imprecision is: Was it 100,000 or was it 200,000? The question wasn't: Was it only 30 or 40 [thousand]? There's no chance it could have been only 30 or 40 [thousand]."

The truthsayer Robert Fisk is also quoted in this newly released article stating, "We do not even know - are not allowed to know - how many of them have died. We know that 1,100 Iraqis died by violence in Baghdad in July alone ... But how many died in the other cities of Iraq, in Mosul and Kirkuk and Irbil, and in Amara and Fallujah and Ramadi and Najaf and Kerbala and Basra? Three thousand in July? Or four thousand? And if those projections are accurate, we are talking about 36,000 or 48,000 over the year - which makes that projected post-April 2003 figure of 100,000 dead, which Blair ridiculed, rather conservative, doesn't it?"

And look here...

http://www.medact.org/

or here...

http://www.iq.undp.org/ILCS/overview.htm

As we, the US government more precisely, have failed to identified the number of civilian casualties in Iraq as being vital to the forefront in the war of information and our public relations efforts to minimize the body count blowback, ala Vietnam, has been largely successful here at home. The Center for Media and Democracy recently awarded the Bush administration and the US corporate media with the 2005 Silver Falsies Award for not counting the dead in Iraq. This is almost as highly prized as winning an Oscar... what an acting job our government is pulling off, eh?

So owe up to 30,000. It's the least you can do to support and assist in the propaganda/ dissemination of information campaign efforts. You could be nominated for the 2006 Silver Falsie...

After you have finished gagging on your civilian death toll lies maybe you can elaborate on this gem, "the Iraq chapter of the war on terror is succeeding very well." In lieu of 11, 000 families or roughly 65,000 Iraqi's, growing exponentially by the day, fleeing to refugee camps who cannot manage the influx, tell us again how successful this chapter of your fictitious best seller is playing out.

Peace Out Brother Bill...


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Dear Professor Laderman,

Your essay is quite good and very well researched/ written. Also, your posted answers to questions are excellent, well thought out and just as highly informative as your article. Thanks for participating in the follow-up dialogue.

Although, my firm personal belief is that Vietnam and Iraq are as unrelated/dissimilar in total as any two histories can possibly be any reasonable, serious scholar can highlight, dissect or reinterpreted events to create correlations that seem remarkably real, interrelated. coherent and contextual... not like this little ramble of mine but, regular posters who know me understand these half-baked efforts as not being that of either a historian or scholar.

One area lacking in many efforts to compare the two conflicts is the deep history/ traditions/ sociopolitical and to a great extent militarily the effects religion played in Vietnam.

Religion seems to be much more at the forefront of the discussion with regard to Iraq yet, Vietnam was a society based/steeped in religious fervor as great, if not more so, than current day Iraq.

Vietnam since the Tayson Rebellion of 1772 was heavily influenced by the French missions and in 1787 missionary Pigneau de Behaine was very influential in placing Nguyen Anh (Gia Long) on the throne. His successor Minh Mang tried to ban Catholicism and Tu Duc promulgated laws directly against Catholics that spurred the French invasion of Vietnam on in earnest... it was off to the races from there.

The list of religious players such as Diem's older brother Ngo Dinh Thuc, Archbishop of Hue-- excommunicated by the Vatican... no easy feat... and a notorious anti-Buddhist or Tri Quong the rebellious Buddhist monk would rival any intrigue that Sistani or al Sadr could muster.

Why is the religious components in Vietnam so often ignored when histories and comparatives are written?

Maybe placing Catholicism... effects/ influences/ problem causation/ aftermath's under the Vietnam microscope is a touchy subject that scholars avoid wherever possible. What do you think?


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Rob,

Surely, we both understand the street definition of the word assume... unless, of course one of us is backward and in need of a reminder.

On any given day if there were only three dead in Baghdad that would be a banner day indeed and a sign that we are 'turning the corner'. How many times have we heard that cliche during the past (24) months? Enough perhaps to explain why we are going round in circles. Unfortunately, the number is 100,000 times greater than your thoughtful desires.

If the truth, as you are so assured of knowing, has been ignored by this poster, then maybe you can provide solid numbers to explain away the stain of this alleged bloodbath.

You are more than welcome to provide your own proof as there are those of us who would welcome any serious rebuttal to the Roberts' findings.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

Bill,

HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA... breath... HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA...

I wouldn't know either Howard Stern or Lyndon LaRouche even if they personally sought me out to hand over their wallets. As for the works of Chomsky or Zinn neither register on this end as either a role model or contender for personal admiration.

However, this gang of four must wield a hot poker that's been stuck in your eye more than a few times. Especially, Chomsky as you go off the deep end against this professor whenever anything the least bit to the left disrupts your far right wing talking points. Maybe, a good therapist can help you overcome your fear of reason.

Seeing that your rebuttal to Les Roberts' findings is as weak as the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation his numbers stand... so get packing... that's as polite as I am willing to put it.


Patrick M. Ebbitt - 9/25/2006

"The next best thing to knowing something is to know where to find it." -- Samuel Johnson

"Man's most judicious trait is a good sense of what not to believe." -- Euripides

You write, "Disproving the unknown is impossible." But, unless someone/ anyone is willing to take the risk to investigate, study, observe, report and defend their findings how can man ever advance? You are a historian or a reasonable facsimile thereof, correct? If so, how has your science advanced without investigation or critical thinking or challenges to conventional thought? Are you willing to stand by and take things at face value or as they come without question? If that be the case then who needs historians. You can all go the way of Gas-lamp Lighters or Whale Oil Salesmen.

Comparing a forged/ planted memo highlighting a candidates military history or, lack thereof, is quite a stretch from an actual hands-on investigation by a respected expert is it not?

You write, "100,000 fresh graves are hard to hide." If this were true then 6,000,000 graves, remnants of the holocaust, should have silenced all debunkers and if Saddam Hussein killed 100,000 or more as alleged where are these bodies buried? Where are the 30,000 civilian graves of those Mr. Bush claims to have been killed during the initial operations phase?

As far as a shred of evidence to support Roberts' claims his numbers are out there, justified by scientific sampling methodology and those numbers to refute his claims are not. Who does one place credibility upon when the game is over and the analysis is undertaken the player who actually runs the football or the armchair quarterback who sits & complains that the beer isn't cold enough?


daniel e teodoru - 5/17/2006

In Vietnam we were INTELLIGENCE BLIND: we didn't know
who was who and what the issues and cultures were and
not even how to speak the language...but we learned.
Blindly bombing the countryside, the supposed "sea" in
which the VC guerrillas swam freely as "fish," we
saturated it with ordnance. As a result, the peasant
"sea" poured into the cities, leaving the VC "fish"
high and dry in the countryside. In about two years we
turned South Vietnam from 85% rural to 75% urban, all
the peasants escaping to the towns and cities as
refugees of our firepower. Though our firepower took a
lot of innocent civilian lives and destroyed much,
with an explicit writ from LBJ, "Blowtorch Komer,"
heading CORDS, reconstructed in the cites about five
times as fast as our forces destroyed in the
countryside. As a result, the peasants became what the
Communists pejoratively called "petit bourgeois,"
developing family businesses, enjoying an economic
boom to make new urban lives for their families; this
caused them to invest in the Saigon regime by sending
their sons to fight the Communists. After the VC
attempt to take the cities during Tet 1968, the Viet
Cong was no more. From then on it became a war against
North Vietnamese regulars. Alas, our "better war" came
too late and we abandoned the struggle, turning
victory into failure.

In Iraq, we were at first welcomed as liberators by
the cheering population. Soon, seeing that we not only
failed to reconstruct anything-- Bremer was no Komer--
and that we allowed criminals to run rampant, Iraqis
eventually came to see us as occupiers instead of
liberators and turned to the insurgency. From a minor
remnant of "dead enders," as Rumsfeld called them, the
insurgents grew to some 200,000, according to the
current Chief of Iraqi Intelligence (a figure accepted
by many American field commanders now), making for
more insurgents than Alliance occupation forces.

It became a war between intelligence blind, language
dumb and culturally deaf Americans who desperately
wanted to live to get home to their families against
insurgents who didn't care if they died so long as
they avenged the victims of American firepower. And
so, more to defend ourselves and in revenge, we went
after the insurgents. But unlike Vietnam, the
countryside in Iraq is barren dessert, thus the
insurgents are in the cities. Using firepower and air
power, we mercilessly pounded the lightly armed
insurgents, destroying the very cities we sought to
save (eg. Falluja). And still, men like ex-Marine Bing
West call for letting the soldiers do their job
unhampered by humane considerations. An exchange
between West and Robert Fisk at the Council on Foreign
Relations is most revealing:

http://www.cfr.org/project/1214/iraqthe_way_forward.html

How the Iraq War unfolded can best be attributed to VP
Cheney, Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld and the neocons at
DoD and NSC, at the reckless exclusion of the Dept. of
State. It can also be argued to have been a massive
deception by the White House, covering up its utter
rudderless incompetence reigning in the above three
named elements of leadership; the latter had a free
hand in directing sycophant generals who would obey
anything for another star, all-- assumedly-- in order
to secure Iraq's oil reserves:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/2005/crudedesigns.htm

I don't even think that history will be able to
resolve that issue, as much was done deliberately
avoiding a paper trail, it seems. But the fact is that
America has not only exhausted itself in Iraq but has
also exposed its upper limit of power projection,
reassuring all the other powers, such as China,
wishing to, within a decade, challenge American
hegemony. For that reason, no one-- no matter how
opposed to the Iraq War since its inception-- can wish
for total American failure in Iraq through
abandonment, as in Vietnam. But perhaps it is time to
face up to the recklessness and incompetence of our
leaders and try to get others to deal with the
preparing of Iraq for self-rule and self-defense,
while we secure Iraq's borders, out of harm's way.

Furthermore, now is not the time to reassure Iraqis
that we will stay the course, as Mr. Bush is doing. If
we do, right before our eyes, Iraq will disintegrate.
The Kurds will try to break off a state of their own,
trying to take with them the fields that produce 1/3
of Iraq's oil. The Shi'ia, supported by Iran, will try
to seize Iraq's southern half, making it a satellite
of Iran. The Sunnis' seeing no future for themselves
will die fighting to avenge the dead, supported by the
Sunni Arab world.

If, on the other hand, we assure them all that we are
retreating in order to seal the borders as prologue to
our withdrawal soon, we make all sides realize that
there is no solution in the time left of American
support other than to form a working cooperative
federal government. The Shi'ia know that they live in
a Sunni Middle East that would keep the insurgency
going indefinitely. The Sunnis know that a large
sector of the Shi'ia are patriots and would not accept
Iranian suzerainty over Iraq. And, the Kurds, akin to
Mafia gangsters, will, as always in their bitter
history, turn their guns on each other, competing for
the prospective Kurdistan; that is assuming that
Turkey would not invade to prevent a Kurdish state
serving as a terror base against it.

Mr. Bush may have achieved a level of humility where
he recognizes that "following my gut" has made such a
mess of everything that his Administration must pass
off Iraq to others who follow more reliable indicants.
The choice he must make is between irresponsible
cover-up of his criminal negligence and working humbly
with a global framework for achieving a free and
viable Iraq. A most interesting discussion of this was
James Dobbins' article in Foreign Affairs last
January:

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050101faessay84102/james-dobbins/iraq-winning-the-unwinnable-war.html?mode=print


Best wishes for the New Year

Daniel E. Teodoru


Minh Nguyen - 4/30/2006

still no light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you every one who took the time to write down what they think.


Minh Nguyen - 4/30/2006

still no light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you every one who took the time to write down what they think.


Vernon Clayson - 4/19/2006

Quagmire, bloodbath, pointless bombing campaigns. OK, now that I have the cliches out of the way, perhaps we could admit that after he took office Nixon turned conducting the war over to the Secretary of Defense and the generals and peacemaking to Henry Kissinger while cursing and brooding in his office, whereas LBJ conducted the war, right down to approving or disapproving individual bombing targets, while cursing and anquishing in his office. I think the Democrats yearn for GWB to make a similar announcement, not that he won't run again as he can't but that he and Cheney will step down and let J. Dennis Hastert take the helm, as if!


Arnold Shcherban - 4/16/2006

Thank you Patrick for your perseverance in dealing with that
fascist, ultra-corporate demagogue BH(more like BS, actually).
I personally did give up on him some months ago, because I recognized that he's not one of those many brainwashed right-wing blockheads, but determined ideological terrorist, i.e. propagator of semitruths, certified lies, shovinistic and militaristic propaganda (and this just a very brief resume of his "altruistic", as he characterizes them, deeds).
Unfortunately, this "serious abuser of
history" as Peter totally justifiably called him is far from being an
exception in this country, in general, and on these discussion boards, in particular, as he would have definitely been in the majority of other civilised societies of the world.


Glenn Rodden - 4/16/2006

Mr. Laderman:

Thank you for participating in this forum with an interesting article and thanks for continuing to respond to questions. I agree with much of what you have said about the "blood bath" theory, but I would take your thesis one step further.

The US policy toward Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975 caused bloodbaths in Vietnam and Cambodia. Today, US troops are not preventing a bloodbath in Iraq because they are confined to their bases when sectarian violence erupts. Therefore, the blood-bath theory is just a cover story.


Rob Willis - 4/16/2006

The point is simple: Disproving the unknown is impossible. It reminds me of the Rathergate memos, when CBS stated that no one had come forward to conclusively prove that the Bush AWOL documents were false. The world operates the other way 'round- these types of claims need to be proved as valid first, not thrown out there for the consumption of the pliable masses.

When reality provides us with an unknown quantity, running any number up the flagpole is bound to attract critcs who value the historical record. I am far more comfortable stating that civilian casualties has occuerd, perhaps in greater numbers than anyone wanted. I will not take seriously anyone who suggests that they were virtually all women and children, or that Coalition forces caused all, or even most, of the deaths. Why? There is not a shread of verifiable evidence to supprt any of those claims. None.

100,000 fresh graves are hard to hide.


Bill Heuisler - 4/16/2006

Mr. Willis, as I do.

He needs attention for validation as a sentient being. Ebbitt is a Howard Stern or Lyndon LaRouche wannabe, without their intellect and polish. He thinks asking inane questions is meaningful, and believes quoting numbers from the collected rants of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn will gain him entre into polite society.
Bill Heuisler


Rob Willis - 4/15/2006

Mr. Humble Businessman-

Thinking people recoil from qualifiers like "assume as many as".

I can make the case for "assuming as many as" three dead.

The Truth ignores such claims.

R. Willis


Scott Laderman - 4/15/2006

Thank you for your thoughtful note, Patrick.

The current tensions in Iraq along ethnic and religious/secular lines seem more ominous than the comparable tensions did in Vietnam decades ago. This is one of the reasons why I indicated in the essay that, in my view, the potential for widespread bloodshed is more plausible today than during the Vietnam war.

Having said that, I should note that Vietnam was (and is) far from homogenous. Both Diem and Thieu were Catholics in an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation -- indeed, Diem’s favoritism towards Catholics helped to contribute to his downfall -- and ethnic Chinese (one of dozens of ethnic groups in Vietnam) exercised disproportionate economic influence, especially in Saigon, thus angering many non-Chinese. There were, moreover, ethnic divisions and disputes in the highlands. More recently in Vietnam there has been a great deal of tension between Protestant Christians and the state authorities; in some instances it has escalated into violence.


Scott Laderman - 4/14/2006

As I wrote in responding to another commenter, what began as a serious effort by me to respond to critics of my essay has become a tedious waste of time. It is not possible to meaningfully engage with persons for whom the importance of evidence is irrelevant. This will consequently be my last message on this thread.

I will address both of your most recent entries below.

You wrote: “You seem to be willfully ignoring the point : 1. what little evidence has been released is suggestive[.]”

A quick review of how we got here is in order. You initially claimed in response to my essay that, “actually, the evidence suggests [an Iraq-al Qaeda] link existed.” I followed your assertion with a request for “credible evidence demonstrating … a collaborative relationship,” not merely “contacts between members of al Qaeda and members of the Iraqi government.” You responded, “I believe there are a considerable number of documents from Iraq that have not yet been released. I am referring to the Stephen Hayes Weekly Standard article from November, which, based on a few of the small number of Iraqi governmnet documents that are available, suggested a much stronger relationship that at first suspected.” In a subsequent message you insisted, “[T]he reader may look up Stephen Hayes articles...all of them mention evidence of links.” As I indicated in response to that message -- and reiterate again in this one -- not one of Stephen Hayes’s articles in the _Weekly Standard_ in November 2005 referred to newly-released documents that are “suggestive” of an Iraq-al Qaeda “link.” The closest he came to uncovering new and “suggestive” documents was to list the titles ascribed to them in the HARMONY database. But titles are not documents and, as even Hayes conceded, those documents with sinister-sounding titles could be perfectly innocuous. [1] How should the minimal amount of information about the documents contained in the HARMONY database be interpreted? “I’m not sure,” Hayes wrote. [2] This is the evidence on which you relied when you suggested that an Iraq-al Qaeda “link” existed?

You also wrote: “2. which in turn begs the question, why a decided lack of any kind of call for a full release of the documents? Especially from the left that cheered the Freedom of Information Act and the Church Commmittee Hearings, both of which were directed against the intelligence agencies whose demands for secrecy the left now trumpets as it redoubles its efforts, having lost sight of its former hostility to ALL regimes like Sadaam's.”

For the record, could you identify when and where I have “trumpet[ed]” secrecy? I otherwise fail to see the relevance of this passage to our exchange.

Then, in a message entitled “specific citations,” you indicated that you would not provide any.

You wrote: “You seem to have footnote fever.”

Identifying one's evidence is a basic tenet of scholarship. Exchanges such as this one would be far more profitable, I believe, if you and others adhered to this elementary scholarly standard.

And: “so I thought I would oblige your request for specific citations demonstrating that the Bush administration supports democraticization in Iraq but has security concerns about the environment in which it takes place and is further concerned (being historical and not ahistorical like yourself) that Ba'athists and Islamists would use the tools of an embryonic democracy in order to seize power and then strange democracy in its crib : you might try reading the newspapers or watching television news or reading news on the internet.”

Is this what you had in mind when you referred above to "specific citations"? With all due respect, I find your statement that I should "try reading ... or watching" the media to be particularly infantile in light of my numerous references to the press; in this thread alone I have cited articles in the _Washington Post_, the _New York Times_, and _Newsweek_.

Also: “Further : you might look at whatever sources you failed to cite when you wrote in your orignial post that the Bush administration claims to support democracy, liberty and/or freedom in Iraq. Unlike you, I believe those claims, and I'm not petty enough to demand that you cite what everyone knows already.”

Just to clarify, your evidence that the Bush administration is genuinely interested in the promotion of “freedom” and “democracy” in Iraq is that administration officials -- for whom the willingness to deceive is a matter of record -- publicly claim as much?

And: “What you want me to do is ‘dig deeper’ and find articles refuting the official ‘claims’ - articles most likely based on sources from within the labrynth of government who have axes to grind against the Bush administration's disprespectful assault on the lifers staffing intelligence and security bureaucracies.”

Actually, what I requested -- but which you have failed to provide -- is evidence indicating that “security” concerns were behind the U.S. decision to cancel Iraqi elections in 2003 and 2004.

And finally: “I’ve simply mentioned a treasure trove of documents that have not been independently examined, and you are very representative of die-hard war critics who feel themselves nearing their goal of an American pullout and don’t want to play to the other side by exploring any potentially unpleasant facts. That you trumpet ‘scholarly’ virtues while accepting intelligence officals summmaries of documents is hypocrisy. I’ll accept your challenge for documentation when I see your signature on a professor’s petition for acccess to the documents.”

So you will not identify evidence that supports your claims because you have not seen my signature on some unspecified “professor’s [sic] petition” demanding access to documents that were made publicly available weeks ago? It is because of precisely this sort of absurd logic -- and unwillingness to adhere to even the most basic standards of scholarship -- that this will be my final message on this thread.

“Or, we’ll pick this up in a decade or so and you’ll most likely come off like a Soviet apologist..insisting that because there was no evidence of any flouridation conspiracies, all anti-communists were wrong....”

A mark of true erudition, indeed.

NOTES:

[1] Stephen F. Hayes, “Where Are the Pentagon Papers?” _Weekly Standard_, November 21, 2005.

[2] Stephen F. Hayes, “The Truth Is Out There…,” _Weekly Standard_, November 28, 2005.


Scott Laderman - 4/14/2006

This will be my last message on this thread. What began as a serious effort to respond to critics of my essay has become a tedious waste of time. It is impossible to meaningfully engage with persons for whom credible evidence is irrelevant.

You wrote: “Don't try to wiggle out of numbers you brought up. On April 10,2005 at 9:25 p.m. You cited Cambodia and a high-end number you alleged were killed in pre-'73 US bombing. You tried to place blame on the US for the Killing Fields in Cambodia. This caught my attention. I found one source for your number.”

You seem to be of the opinion that if the text of a source does not show up in a Google search then it is off-limits. This is absurd. I cited a credible source: the work of Ben Kiernan. Kiernan’s work is apparently so credible, in fact, that rather than engage his published (and thus easily confirmable) conclusion -- which means actually reading the relevant scholarship -- you continue to deny that he posited it. This sort of absurdity does not merit further comment.

And: “There was no supporting data.”

This is misleading. Although I did not cite the “one [online] source” you found for the figure I provided, and am thus under no obligation to address it, I would like to briefly comment, as your attempt at denigration, I believe, further illustrates why trying to participate in a serious exchange with you -- that is, one grounded in empirical reality -- is so futile. You earlier provided the link to your “one source”: the Cambodian Genocide Program’s online “Chronology of Cambodian Events Since 1950.” [1] As its title implies, this is merely a chronology, a helpful tool for people looking for quick information. Chronologies typically are not annotated -- “There was no supporting data,” you wrote in condemnation -- because they are meant to be brief reference guides that are often part of broader scholarly endeavors (books, web-based projects, et cetera). Such is the case with the chronology provided by the Cambodian Genocide Program. Whether through incompetence or deception is unclear, but, whichever the case, you failed to acknowledge that on the same webpage as the chronology you criticized is a link called “US Involvement.” When one follows that link one finds a list of secondary (and primary) sources under the heading “United States Bombing of Cambodia, 1965-1973” that interested persons can consult for further information. Among the listed sources is Ben Kiernan’s 1989 article in _Vietnam Generation_ on the American bombing campaigns in Cambodia. [2] This is not surprising; Kiernan, after all, is the founding director of the Yale program. I suggest that, before dismissing the staff of the Cambodian Genocide Program as so-called “scholars” (your quotes), you engage the sources they identified for those persons interested in more detailed information. Once you have done so -- and, if you expect to be taken seriously, *only* when you have done so -- you may attempt to demonstrate why the program’s chronology is wrong.

You also wrote: “I refer you to your words: ‘While the focus of my essay was Vietnam, not Cambodia, I must note that two million Cambodians were not “clubbed to death” after 1975. But the case of Cambodia is instructive. The U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which killed as many as 150,000 Cambodian civilians, led to “economic and political destabilization” that, together with Washington’s support for the Lon Nol dictatorship, contributed to the emergence of the Khmer Rouge as a viable political force.’ In other words you blame Pol Pot’s bloodbath massacre on alleged US bombing deaths that neither you nor anyone else can suppport with one scrap of evidence. You quote Kiernan and Kiernan gives no supporting data. But Kiernan definitely changed his mind and blames Pol Pot for the bloodbath in Cambodia, not the US.”

This is yet one more example of the sort of absurdity that has convinced me that my further participation on this thread is a colossal waste of time.

NOTES:

[1] Cambodian Genocide Program, Yale University, “Chronology of Cambodian Events Since 1950,” at <http://www.yale.edu/cgp/chron.html>; (Accessed on April 14, 2006).

[2] Ben Kiernan, “The American Bombardment of Kampuchea, 1969-1973,” _Vietnam Generation_ 1:1 (Winter 1989): 4-41.


Jason KEuter - 4/14/2006

You seem to have footnote fever, so I thought I would oblige your request for specific citations demonstrating that the Bush administration supports democraticization in Iraq but has security concerns about the environment in which it takes place and is further concerned (being historical and not ahistorical like yourself) that Ba'athists and Islamists would use the tools of an embryonic democracy in order to seize power and then strange democracy in its crib : you might try reading the newspapers or watching television news or reading news on the internet.

Further : you might look at whatever sources you failed to cite when you wrote in your orignial post that the Bush administration claims to support democracy, liberty and/or freedom in Iraq. Unlike you, I believe those claims, and I'm not petty enough to demand that you cite what everyone knows already. What you want me to do is "dig deeper" and find articles refuting the official "claims" - articles most likely based on sources from within the labrynth of government who have axes to grind against the Bush administration's disprespectful assault on the lifers staffing intelligence and security bureaucracies. I've simply mentioned a treasure trove of documents that have not been independently examined, and you are very representative of die-hard war critics who feel themselves nearing their goal of an American pullout and don't want to play to the other side by exploring any potentially unpleasant facts. That you trumpet "scholarly" virtues while accepting intelligence officals summmaries of documents is hypocrisy. I'll accept your challenge for documentation when I see your signature on a professor's petition for acccess to the documents. Or, we'll pick this up in a decade or so and you'll most likely come off like a Soviet apologist..insisting that because there was no evidence of any flouridation conspiracies, all anti-communists were wrong....


Jason KEuter - 4/14/2006

You seem to be willfully ignoring the point :

1. what little evidence has been released is suggestive

2. which in turn begs the question, why a decided lack of any kind of call for a full release of the documents?

Especially from the left that cheered the Freedom of Information Act and the Church Commmittee Hearings, both of which were directed against the intelligence agencies whose demands for secrecy the left now trumpets as it redoubles its efforts, having lost sight of its former hostility to ALL regimes like Sadaam's.


Bill Heuisler - 4/14/2006

Mr. Laderman,
Don't try to wiggle out of numbers you brought up.

On April 10,2005 at 9:25 p.m. You cited Cambodia and a high-end number you alleged were killed in pre-'73 US bombing. You tried to place blame on the US for the Killing Fields in Cambodia. This caught my attention. I found one source for your number. There was no supporting data.

I refer you to your words:

"While the focus of my essay was Vietnam, not Cambodia, I must note that two million Cambodians were not “clubbed to death” after 1975. But the case of Cambodia is instructive. The U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which killed as many as 150,000 Cambodian civilians, led to “economic and political destabilization” that, together with Washington’s support for the Lon Nol dictatorship, contributed to the emergence of the Khmer Rouge as a viable political force."

In other words you blame Pol Pot's bloodbath massacre on alleged US bombing deaths that neither you nor anyone else can suppport with one scrap of evidence. You quote Kiernan and Kiernan gives no supporting data. But Kiernan definitely changed his mind and blames Pol Pot for the bloodbath in Cambodia, not the US.

So stop trying to pretend others on HNN are misunderstanding your essay. The essay depends on a phony anti-American bias and very little actual evidence or testimony in both the Hue and the Cambodia instances.

The dance is over.
Bill Heuisler


Scott Laderman - 4/14/2006

You wrote: “First, your article is based on the absences of bloodbaths. Pol Pot's massacre was a bloodbath.”

As you apparently missed it, I refer you to my response (immediately above your message) to Peter K. Clarke on the relevance of Cambodia to my essay and the bloodbath theory.

You also wrote: “Second, your Marine demurrer on Hue was hearsay or opinion at first, but in your last post he's promoted to one of your ‘sources’. “

I disagree with your characterization of Leo Cawley’s essay. Having said that, the “Hue Massacre” sources to which I was referring are those I identified in “Re: A Bloodbath Did Not Materialize?” Message No. 86266, April 11, 2006, 10:35 A.M.

And finally: “Third, Kiernan’s book title includes the years 1975 - 1979 and refers to those years. The Yale study cites US bombing before 1973. The year a book is published doesn’t prove anything and you know it. Kiernan’s book supports a Cambodian bloodbath and the Yale study gives a very broad number-spread of Anti-US charges with no sources or supporting data.”

I want to be absolutely certain that I understand your argument. You are faulting me because, in estimating civilian deaths as a result of the U.S. bombing campaigns, you do not like a source that I did not cite? In addition, you are claiming that because the title of Kiernan’s book refers to the years 1975 through 1979 he could not have addressed the years before 1975? In other words, I simply fabricated his conclusion that “[u]p to 150,000 civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. bombing campaigns in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973”? [1] And the book -- again, because the title refers to the years 1975 through 1979 -- has to reflect the ideas Kiernan allegedly held in 1973 (as you previously wrote) rather than in 1996, the year of the book’s publication? I trust that readers will understand why I cannot take this argument seriously.

[1] Ben Kiernan, _The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79_ (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 1996), 24.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/14/2006

The official slogans have been officially banned as substitutions
for discursive arguments by any more or less analytical forum long time ago.
Therefore, I'm not gonna "fight" such
a fearless fighter as you are and
would like to stop our exchange on this matter.


Bill Heuisler - 4/14/2006

Mr. Laderman,
Your evasions are so blatant even Mr. Clarke and I agree. That is rare.

First, your article is based on the absences of bloodbaths. Pol Pot's massacre was a bloodbath.

Second, your Marine demurrer on Hue was hearsay or opinion at first, but in your last post he's promoted to one of your "sources".

Third, Kiernan's book title includes the years 1975 - 1979 and refers to those years. The Yale study cites US bombing before 1973. The year a book is published doesn't prove anything and you know it. Kiernan's book supports a Cambodian bloodbath and the Yale study gives a very broad number-spread of Anti-US charges with no sources or supporting data.

Evade the issues if you must, but repeating the damned questions is officious and pedantic and betrays you as an amateur.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 4/14/2006

Omar,
Did your buddies miss that Shiite march last week? Probably. But a million Shiites marched last week to Al-Basrah to celebrate a religious event. First time in decades, there was no trouble - no loss of life.

And no media coverage.

None, except in places like Amman and Beirut. But the monotonous dirge continues in the States. Talk to a returning vet. Ask your friends how they missed all those million Muslim marchers. Get decent information.

US invasion? Right. These friends of yours probably voted a Baath ticket that gave Saddam 95% of the vote every few years. Saddam attacked us and we will see him dead along with any other terrorists we can find. Hope your friends stay friendly.

One more thing, that Library story was repudiated years ago. The staff took nearly everything away for safekeeping and little was lost. If that's your best shot, you need to go over and find some real stories.

Hell, Omar, volunteer for the Corps. They might give you a trip. And it may even be a round trip if you're lucky.
Bill




Bill Heuisler - 4/13/2006

Hey Arnold,
The US military is our sons and fathers and daughters. We know and love them well and they feel the same way. Because they volunteer does not make them mindless.

We're not the oldest free Republic in the world because we either fear a fight or fear our government.
Bill


Scott Laderman - 4/13/2006

You wrote: “After 25 posts on your own article, it becomes difficult for anyone to see what you are ‘refraining’ from ‘responding to,’ other than than to stubbornly refrain from acknowledging that no solid article could concievably require such incessant and indiscriminate reply to every comment made: e.g. that the article itself is quite weak and unpersuasive.”

Forgive me. I had assumed that readers would appreciate the fact that the author of the essay actually took the time to respond -- and, amazingly for this forum, without the sort of vituperation that, I regret, is much too common here -- to the comments of critics. It seems that at least one reader, however, is of the opinion that errors, unfounded assumptions, misrepresentations, and unsupported statements should simply be allowed to pass without comment.

A couple of quick remarks. You wrote: “The Bushies have made a lot of dubious and continually shifting arguments about why we are in Iraq, and why we have to stay there. I cannot recall, however, any George W. Bush administration official ever citing prevention of a blood bath as one of those reasons. This is probably related to the fact that, amidst the copious footnotes in your article, not one such reference is to be found.”

As I indicated in the essay -- with the important qualification, which you seem to have either ignored or overlooked, that the Vietnam-Iraq analogy is “imprecise” -- implicit in talk about preventing a full-scale civil war is, I believe, an effort to prevent “the chaos and Iraqi bloodshed this would produce.” George W. Bush -- certainly a member of the Bush administration -- referred to this in his most recent State of the Union Address: “A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq,” he pronounced, “would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison.” [1]

And finally: “Nor is there the slightest evidence presented that perpetuating a bloodbath is in any way a central element of a U.S. presence that centers around driving in convoys between armed bases, hoping not to get blown up by improvised road bombs.”

I do not believe -- nor, I am certain, would many Iraqis -- that this is an accurate characterization of American military activity in Iraq.

It is abundantly clear that you do not like my essay. Others may judge its merits or demerits, and your consistently erudite responses to it, for themselves.

NOTE:

[1] George W. Bush, “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” January 31, 2006, _Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents_, Volume 42, Number 5, Monday, February 6, 2006 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006), 147.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/13/2006

The very "we", just other and much better armed and specifically trained "we" will be killing the other
armed "we" at the RATE eclipsing all
genocides known to mankind up to now.
Only round idiots and/or arms'
production profiteers can claim, as they do, that armed with hand guns or even machine guns peaceful civilians are able more or less seriously resist, say the regular military forces or national Guard.
They can't even resist the violent crimes and murders this country holds the shameful palm of primacy in the civilised world.
The argument of armed resistance of
peaceful American citizens to the "bad" goverment is equal, in the absense of any logical or scientific or evidential basis only to the religious myth of six-day creationism.
Don't even try to throw the s* of chicken carrying bird's flu at us.


Scott Laderman - 4/13/2006

I will refrain from responding to the bulk of your message (what exactly does “prefabricated foregone conclusions” mean?), but I would like to briefly correct one of your errors.

You wrote: “I am inclined to agree that destabilization in the wake of U.S. incursions and interventions in Cambodia helped strengthen the Khmer Rouge before the capture of Saigon in 1975, and in no way did I ‘imply’ that such strengthening happened only after Spring, 1975.”

This is a mischaracterization of what I actually wrote. The above sentence responds to my comment that the Khmer Rouge “achiev[ed] national power … *before* the ‘Fall of Saigon,’ not after as you implied.” My comment was referring to your prior statement regarding the “Cambodian genocide [being] caused by … the Fall of Saigon.” The logical implication of what you wrote is that the origins of the genocide postdated April 30, 1975. At no point did you refer to the organization’s “strengthening.”


Scott Laderman - 4/13/2006

You wrote: “Hueisler himself can probably tell you how many scores or hundreds of times I have been at loggerheads with him on HNN (not infrequently involving him not wanting to ‘do homework’) and how rarely we ever find ourselves in agreement on anything, but ‘dancing’ pretty fairly describes your repeated lame evasions here. They are spewed across this page with a degree of indiscriminate ineffectiveness reminiscent of what the U.S. Air Force did to the jungles of Indochina in the 1960s and '70s[.] It is, of course, extremely difficult to say whether and to what extent the Cambodian genocide was caused by (a) American incursions into and bombing of Cambodia in the early 1970s, or (b) the Fall of Saigon and the final end of major American involvement in Southeast Asia or (c) a host of other mostly domestic factors. But the question is not just begged, it comes blasting with a fanfare out of your article. If your thesis is not a complete farce, then you have to be prepared to at least address point (b). To incessantly pretend for the umpteenth time that a direct outcome or implication of your historically tangential and politically dubious piece is ‘not relevant’ is the height of shoddy history-writing, and evasive disingenuousness.”

Cambodia is not relevant to my essay. Wartime proponents of the bloodbath theory were not predicting a bloodbath in Cambodia (where the Khmer Rouge was in some instances actually in conflict with the Vietnamese); they were predicting a bloodbath in Vietnam. That was the subject of my essay.

While not related, I will nevertheless add that the case of Cambodia may be revealing in contemplating the Iraq war. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, the U.S. bombing of Cambodia led to “economic and political destabilization” that, together with Washington’s support for the Lon Nol dictatorship, contributed to the emergence of the Khmer Rouge as a viable political force. [1] (Note that this is quite different from saying, as you did, that the Cambodian genocide may have been “caused” by it. And the American bombing began in the 1960s, not the “early 1970s” as you wrote.) Indeed, the CIA’s Directorate of Operations warned of the success of the Khmer Rouge in using the bombing as a recruitment tool: “They are using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda,” and the “propaganda campaign has been effective.” [2] In other words, the Khmer Rouge went from being, in the late 1960s, a minor group of essentially no considerable significance to, as the United States escalated its warfare, a force capable of achieving national power, which it did *before* the “Fall of Saigon,” not after as you implied.

The American occupation of, and warfare in, Iraq is similarly radicalizing people who were not otherwise inclined to take up arms against the United States or to support those who did so. [3] In this there may be a parallel to the case of Cambodia.

NOTE:

[1] Ben Kiernan, _The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79_ (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 1996), 16.

[2] Quoted in ibid., 22.

[3] See, for example, Nawaf Obaid and Anthony Cordesman, “Saudi Militants in Iraq: Assessment and Kingdom’s Response,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 19, 2005; see also Bryan Bender, “Study Cites Seeds of Terror in Iraq,” Boston Globe, July 17, 2005.


Scott Laderman - 4/13/2006

You wrote: “Dancing betweeb 1973 and 1978 won't work. Kiernan's Yale Project was in the early seventies, years prior to his eye-opening interviews with Cambodian survivors in Thailand years later.”

This is incorrect. The Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University was established in 1994 -- that is, at least twenty years after you claim. [1]

And: “One last time, your major source changed his mind. His early (1973) conclusions - that you based your thesis on - had changed when he wrote in the "Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars" quoted in my earlier post. His denial of a bloodbath had been changed by horrible reality. In 1978 or 1979 Kiernan apparently also realized that the 50,000 to 150,000
‘estimate’ of Cambodian civilians killed by US bombs was absolutely unsupportable in Pol Pot's nightmare and among millions of missing and dead Cambodians.”

This is also incorrect. As indicated by the citation I provided, Ben Kiernan published his book in 1996 -- that is, seventeen or eighteen years after you claim that he “realized” his “early … conclusions” were “absolutely unsupportable” and thus “changed his mind.”

Also: “Lastly, your thesis of no bloodbath after US withdrawal was refuted by your major source, Kiernan. Your number of civilians killed by US bombs is also a Kiernan number from before his interviews. The number is unsupportable (even the lower number you ignored) through any process of accounting or forensics or hearsay.”

Your dispute is with Kiernan -- who you insist believes something that he clearly does not -- rather than with me.

And finally: “Instead of dancing around, please show HNN 1) Why Pol Pot's massacre is not a bloodbath. 2) Explain bodies buried in mass graves in Hue when anybody who was there knows there was no bombing or artillery when Marines retook the city and Citadel. 3) Please explain how (if there were Cambodians bombed) anyone could find bodies or count the pieces. Just three answers. No dancing.”

Number one is not relevant to my essay, number two is addressed by the sources I cited earlier on the “Hue Massacre,” and number three -- are you really questioning “if” there were Cambodians bombed? -- seems to be simply another attempt to avoid reading and engaging the scholarly literature and instead have me explain it to you.

As I indicated in my last message, you will have to do your own homework. If you wish to dispute Kiernan’s methodology and demonstrate its flaws, you will need to read his relevant work yourself.

NOTE:

[1] “The Tenth Year of Genocide Studies at Yale University,” 2003-04 Annual Report of the Genocide Studies Program, Yale Center for International and Area Studies, at <http://www.yale.edu/gsp/index.html>; (Accessed on April 12, 2006).


Bill Heuisler - 4/13/2006

Mr. Laderman,
Dancing betweeb 1973 and 1978 won't work. Kiernan's Yale Project was in the early seventies, years prior to his eye-opening interviews with Cambodian survivors in Thailand years later.

One last time, your major source changed his mind. His early (1973) conclusions - that you based your thesis on - had changed when he wrote in the "Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars" quoted in my earlier post. His denial of a bloodbath had been changed by horrible reality. In 1978 or 1979 Kiernan apparently also realized that the 50,000 to 150,000
"estimate" of Cambodian civilians killed by US bombs was absolutely unsupportable in Pol Pot's nightmare and among millions of missing and dead Cambodians.

Logic: 50,000 to 150,000 civilians?
Was this number arbitrary, or was it given to Yale's Genocide Project by sources hostile to the US? There was no way the scholars could get to the area in question in 1973, and there would be no way they could count bodies in a jungle in the middle of a war. No scholar - not Kiernan or anyone - has claimed to have seen bodies killed by US bombing.

Lastly, your thesis of no bloodbath after US withdrawal was refuted by your major source, Kiernan. Your number of civilians killed by US bombs is also a Kiernan number from before his interviews. The number is unsupportable (even the lower number you ignored) through any process of accounting or forensics or hearsay.
Cambodia was in chaos. Millions were dead, missing or fleeing. Guessing at casualties in order to smear the US is a foolish waste of time.

Instead of dancing around, please show HNN
1) Why Pol Pot's massacre is not a bloodbath.
2) Explain bodies buried in mass graves in Hue when anybody who was there knows there was no bombing or artillery when Marines retook the city and Citadel.
3) Please explain how (if there were Cambodians bombed) anyone could find bodies or count the pieces.

Just three answers. No dancing.
Bill Heuisler


Scott Laderman - 4/13/2006

This is absurd. In your previous message you suggested that I mischaracterized the findings of my source, Ben Kiernan, as he could not have written what I said he did. Kiernan is someone who “wrote the truth,” you insisted, not the “anti-American propaganda” I peddle. He “betrays me,” you charged; had I read him “more thoroughly” I would have recognized this. There was no doubt: “Kiernan disagrees with … Laderman.”

So I did what any competent scholar would do: I quoted Kiernan. “Up to 150,000 civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. bombing campaigns in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973,” he wrote.

Your response? Attack Kiernan. (And, for good measure, claim that I “misled HNN readers on another source” -- the website of the Kiernan-directed Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University, which I did not cite -- even though nothing I wrote [“as many as” 150,000 civilian deaths] in any way contradicts the other source.) Kiernan was thus immediately transformed from a credible historian who “wrote the truth” to a so-called “scholar” (your quotes).

With all due respect, if you doubt the legitimacy of Kiernan’s findings then demonstrate why he is mistaken. Do not ask me to do your homework for you. Do, in other words, what Gareth Porter and James Roberts did in refuting the work of Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl D. Jackson: engage the material and show why it is flawed.


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Arnold. I know it's a foreign concept to you, but most United States citizens are armed just to prevent what happened in your poor benighted country and in Vietnam.
Bill


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Mr. Laderman,
You misled HNN readers on another source:Yale University's "Cambodian Genocide Project

http://www.yale.edu/cgp/chron.html

Stated without any supporting facts that from 1969 to 1973 there were
"50,000 to 150,000" civilian deaths resulting from US bombing.

First, why did you use only the larger number?
Second, how did a Yale Project ID and count Cambodian bodies in the jungle? Third, how did these very estimable scholars determine the cause of death?

There's a reason for my question. If you had ever seen the results of a B52 strike you would know there's not much left but big holes, spatter and small pieces of trees and other parts that bear little resemblance to anything. Again, how could these Yale "scholars" do anything but guess as to numbers and causality? And how could you jump so firmly to your anti-American conclusions?

Face it, your ridiculous thesis is based on guesswork, flawed, dated and misquoted sources.
Bill Heuisler


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Omar,
Come to Iraq before you spout any more nonsense. There is not a "total break down of the rule of law...". In fact there are few problems north of Ba 'qubah or south of Al-Hillah. Tal Afar is peaceful and most of this country the size of Texas is back to near normal with schools and markets and traffic jams in town. The death toll is far less than the executions under Saddam and if the candy-ass reporters would get out of their Baghdad hotels they might discover the Iraq chapter of the war on terror is succeeding very well.

The other side isn't being told either - US is arresting or killing an average of fifty terrorists a week and the Iraqis are turning most of them in.

BYW the American people don't give a damn about your "moral=human" crap. They want to kill terrorists because the terrorists attacked the US without provocation. As long as terrorists resist and call for our death we will kill them.

And that's a good thing for other Islamofascists to remember.
Bill Heuisler


Rob Willis - 4/12/2006

Honestly, you are dodging the main points of the critics of your essay.
Refering back to the same source under scrutiny does nothing to clear the air.

I will rephrase one of the questions: Who exactly confirmed the 150,000 civilian deaths, and the cause?


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

You wrote: “Mr. Laderman’s sources betray him. He uses Kiernan, (like Noam Chomsky did) but Kiernan now disagrees with both Chomsky and Laderman. HNN readers will recall Ben Kiernan was once an apologist for Pol Pot. But Laderman doesn't bother to tell HNN readers that Kiernan has since reversed his position. In fact, he spent two years talking to hundreds of Cambodian refugees in Thailand. They told him the truth. Kiernan wrote the truth in a journal for Concerned Asian Scholars: ‘...evidence also points clearly to a systematic use of violence against the population by that chauvinist section of the revolutionary movement that was led by Pol Pot.’ Population means civilians, Laderman, and Pol Pot does not mean the US[.] Kiernan also wrote, ‘Almost the entire middle class was deliberately targeted and killed, including civil servants, teachers, intellectuals, and artists. No fewer than 68,000 Buddhist monks out of a total of 70,000 were executed. Fifty percent of urban Chinese were murdered.’ Kiernan wrote the death toll between 1975 and 1978 was 1.6 million out of 7.9 million Cambodian people. This qualifies as a politically motivated bloodbath by the Pol Pot government, and not American bombing campaigns.’ Targeting the middle class? 1,600,000 dead is a bloodbath. And the killers were Communists.”

How any of this is relevant to what I wrote is unclear to me. Your remarks might be relevant had I denied the Khmer Rouge genocide (or “autogenocide”). But, of course, I did not deny the Khmer Rouge genocide.

As I understand your comments (e.g., “[p]opulation means civilians, Laderman, and Pol Pot does not mean the US” and “Kiernan wrote the death toll between 1975 and 1978 was 1.6 million out of 7.9 million Cambodian people. This qualifies as a politically motivated bloodbath by the Pol Pot government, and not American bombing campaigns”), you seem to be under the impression that if Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were responsible for atrocities in Cambodia then the United States could not have also been responsible for atrocities in Cambodia. This does not pass even the most elementary test of logic.

Here is what Kiernan wrote in the source I cited: “Up to 150,000 civilian deaths resulted from the U.S. bombing campaigns in Cambodia from 1969 to 1973.” [1] How does this source “betray” me?

You also wrote: “Then he chooses an ex-Marine who blames the Hue deaths on US bombing. Laderman and his source are ignorant of the fact there was very little bombing or artillery in the taking of the Citadel in Hue because the US considered the Citadel an Annamese cultural treasure. They decided to lose more Marines in the assault rather than ‘prep’ the fortress. Laderman and source don’t bother to honor that unselfish and bloody decision.”

Although this distinction will almost certainly be lost on you, I cited Leo Cawley not as a source on the “Hue Massacre” or the battle of Hue but as one person’s account of how, according to him, a leading media outlet refused to reexamine the Hue episode. I was responding to a comment, after all, about the “rabid mainstream media” (Lawrence Brooks Hughes).

And finally: “Laderman needs new sources, or he should read his own more thoroughly before smearing the United States Marine Corps and embarrassing himself on a history web site.”

I will leave it to others to judge whether I “smear[ed]” the U.S. Marine Corps.

NOTE:

[1] Ben Kiernan, _The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79_ (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 1996), 24.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

Please know that I am not attempting to be difficult, but I do not understand your question. What do you mean by "cite," what do you mean by "credible sources," and what do you mean by "higher figure"? Higher than 165,000 deaths, which is the figure provided in the _Orange County Register_ article?


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Mr. Laderman's sources betray him.
He uses Kiernan, (like Noam Chomsky did) but Kiernan now disagrees with both Chomsky and Laderman.

HNN readers will recall Ben Kiernan was once an apologist for Pol Pot. But Laderman doesn't bother to tell HNN readers that Kiernan has since reversed his position. In fact, he spent two years talking to hundreds of Cambodian refugees in Thailand. They told him the truth.

Kiernan wrote the truth in a journal for Concerned Asian Scholars:
"...evidence also points clearly to a systematic use of violence against the population by that chauvinist section of the revolutionary movement that was led by Pol Pot."

Population means civilians, Laderman,
and Pol Pot does not mean the US

Kiernan also wrote, "Almost the entire middle class was deliberately targeted and killed, including civil servants, teachers, intellectuals, and artists. No fewer than 68,000 Buddhist monks out of a total of 70,000 were executed. Fifty percent of urban Chinese were murdered."

Kiernan wrote the death toll between 1975 and 1978 was 1.6 million out of 7.9 million Cambodian people. This qualifies as a politically motivated bloodbath by the Pol Pot government, and not American bombing campaigns.

Targeting the middle class? 1,600,000 dead is a bloodbath.
And the killers were Communists.

Then he chooses an ex-Marine who blames the Hue deaths on US bombing.
Laderman and his source are ignorant of the fact there was very little bombing or artillery in the taking of the Citadel in Hue because the US considered the Citadel an Annamese cultural treasure. They decided to lose more Marines in the assault rather than "prep" the fortress.
Laderman and source don't bother to honor that unselfish and bloody decision.

Laderman needs new sources, or he should read his own more thoroughly before smearing the United States Marine Corps and embarrassing himself on a history web site.

One more thing: stop larding your answers by repeating my posts. I know what I wrote and it's one post above. The practise doesn't enhance your supposed "scholarship".
Bill Heuisler


Frederick Thomas - 4/12/2006


Mr. Laderman:

If what you say is true, why did you not cite the credible sources which estimate a higher figure than the newspaper figure?


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

Despite my requests, you failed to provide any evidence to buttress your previous charges concerning the U.S. cancellation of Iraqi elections in 2003 and 2004 on "security" grounds. Indeed, in your above message you omitted mention of this issue altogether. Given your earlier confidence on the matter -- going so far as to characterize my understanding of the American actions as "ridiculous" -- I must now ask, Why?

You wrote: “Re: the reader may look up Stephen Hayes articles...all of them mention evidence of links….”

Not one of the _Weekly Standard_ articles Hayes wrote in November 2005 uncovers new (let alone compelling) documentary evidence of an Iraq-al Qaeda “link.” I, too, encourage interested readers to consult Hayes’s articles and judge for themselves whether Jason Keuter, in two messages now, has accurately reported their contents.

The remainder of your message, including your bizarre suggestion that I am hostile to the release of Iraqi documents, does not merit a serious reply, in my view.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

You wrote: “That’s the way I remember it, too. And again, I think if the revisionists really had any case our rabid mainstream media would have been on it before this. There have been numerous unmitigated horrors in history, and Hue was one of them. It doesn't fit the Weltanschauung of people who think the American involvement in Vietnam was immoral, so it has become a non-event and is getting dropped from the history books. And that's an outrage.”

Just to make sure I am understanding you correctly, your evidence that the conventional narrative of the “Hue Massacre” is accurate is that “our rabid mainstream media,” years later, “would have been on it” if it were not accurate? That is hardly persuasive evidence.

Having said that, you may find the following recollection of Leo Cawley to be of interest:

“At the end of the war, Richard Nixon was using the need to prevent a bloodbath as the only excuse for continuing the war and citing the ‘Hue massacre’ as proof that this would happen should the other side gain control. At the time, I was active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War (V.V.A.W.). A CBS file clerk sent to the offices of V.V.A.W. an outline of a documentary project that had been killed. The proposed project had located a number of credible (that is, non-Vietnamese) sources who said that what the Marine Corps claimed were massacre victims were in fact killed by the Marine Corps bombing raids during the retaking of Hue. As the Vietnamese forces held out against the Marines for weeks after Tet, the corpses became a health hazard and the city’s residents pushed the dead into mass graves.… Armed with internal documents, V.V.A.W. staged a sit-in at CBS headquarters at ‘Black Rock,’ where it became clear that CBS would give no ground and would soon call the police. We gave in. But the episode exposed me to the thinking at CBS. I was told that they ‘had taken so much heat over My Lai’ that it was just impossible to go with another story like the one we were then proposing. As Barry Richardson, then vice-president for public relations, told me, ‘One of these is enough.’ So one of those was all America was permitted to have.” [1]

NOTE:

[1] Leo Cawley, “The War About the War: Vietnam Films and American Myth,” in Linda Dittmar and Gene Michaud, eds., _From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film_ (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1990), 79.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

You wrote: “Before climbing down from your pedestal, please tell the readers of HNN where you got your death figures on post-1975 Vietnam. Did the VN government volunteer them? Does the Communist government appreciate your scholarship enough to give you their concentration camp records? The death warrants for the executions?”

Putting your curious sarcasm aside, this is a reversal of the burden of proof. Those who allege a postwar Vietnamese bloodbath have a responsibility, if they wish to be taken seriously, to demonstrate the empirical foundation of their charge. The burden of proof does not rest on those who state that there is no credible evidence. In other words, prove that I am wrong.

You continued: “You don't have any credible numbers. Your alleged scholarship has already made outrageous statements like: ‘The U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which killed as many as 150,000 Cambodian civilians...’ This bizarre number reminds me of Chomsky's flights of fancy. Come to think of it, he didn't believe in Pol Pot's ‘Killing Fields’ either. You have much in common with Noam - your loosely-applied scholarship and defense or denial of totalitarian murderers fits right in with his. Next time you try to lecture me or any one else about scholarship you might reveal where you get your numbers. Tell us all how sources manage to count all those bodies in the jungle killed with US bombs. All those Cambodian villages (right on the Ho Chi Minh Trail) that were destroyed by your evil countrymen.”

For the figure of as many as 150,000 civilian deaths in Cambodia due to the American bombing campaigns, see Ben Kiernan, _The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79_ (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 1996), 24.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

In a previous message you wrote: “You seem to have an agenda to make as many parallels as possible regardless of relevance to current decision-making.”

I then asked: “To which parallels are you referring?”

You have now responded: “Your article here, e.g.: ‘Little attention has been heeded to what the Vietnam war might tell us about the United States getting out of this [war (sic) ]. It is an issue that deserves our attention.’”

So when you charged me with “an agenda to make as many parallels as possible regardless of evidence to current decision-making,” you had in mind the single analogy I identified as the focus of my essay? I hope you can appreciate why I take the time to ask for evidence -- or what you apparently call “evasion and hype” -- in response to your comments.

Most of the remainder of your message is either immaterial or a regrettable assortment of ad hominem attacks that does not merit a serious response.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/12/2006

"we cannot cut and run"

I'd rather not do that myself, but what would you consider the minimum situation in which we could withdraw our forces.

I state this because we already have given up on a democracy based on secular, as opposed to Sharia, values, even though we made the condition of women a centerpiece of the rationale for going to war.

So that was not essential.

What is?


Dexter Ramm - 4/12/2006

The Washington Post recently ran a story stating that the military has engaged in a propaganda campaign to exaggerate the role of Zarqawi and al Qaeda in the insurgency.

MSNBC also ran a story a couple years ago stating that the Bush Administration passed on a chance to attack Zarqawi in Northern (no-fly) Iraq because eliminating him would damage the Adminstartion's claims that Iraq supported terrorism.


Dexter Ramm - 4/12/2006

Surely you see that there was something uniquely perverse in Nixon and his people citing concerns of a potential bloodbath while at the same time ordering massive, pointless bombing campaigns.


Jason KEuter - 4/12/2006

my apologies: the preceding post was a response to post # 86265


Jason KEuter - 4/12/2006

Re: the reader may look up Stephen Hayes articles...all of them mention evidence of links, and the main gist of the articles is simply the request that the documents be released and scrutinized and puzzlement as to why the "scholarly" community of "analyists" such as yourself are so mute on questions of releasing them; of course, Hayes is no more curious than I on that point: the "scholarly" communisty of "analysts" is decidedly not curious about any evidence that might contradict their conventional wisdom about the Iraq war - most of which is predicated on a willfull ignorance of the nature of the regime that it eliminated.

What is compelling would be some of the questions the release of the documents might help address; again, as a "scholar" who writes on this subject, I would assume you would not be content with intellignence officials Cliff Notes of such documents and might want to take an objective gander at them yourself. I can only attribute your lack of curiousity on such a treasure trove of information relevant to your research concerns to a fear that the evidence might not support your conclusions. That is, of course, the point Hayes was making about the documents as well.

Your blather about "scholarly" standards is hard to take seriously given your hook line and sinker acceptance of intelligence agency summaries that justify your political position. Do you beleive the same thing about communists in the state department?

Furthermore, you don't know anything about high school debates. Might I suggest doing a fullbright (or maybe just a half-bright)in a high school sometime, so that you might become more knowledgable on that subject as well?


Jason KEuter - 4/12/2006

And they see the infidels of the west, particularly the US, as the primary supporter of the corrupt regimes they seek to overthrow - hence, anyone that is an enemy of the US is a friend (albeit temporary, but are there any other kind?) of Al Qadea, or, as Mr. Laderman would put it, "Al Qadea (sic)"...your misreading misinterprets the primary impulse of Al Qadea and its followers: you think they seek to destroy in order to create. You fail to understand they seek first and foremost to destroy...


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Mr. Laderman,
Before climbing down from your pedestal, please tell the readers of HNN where you got your death figures on post-1975 Vietnam. Did the VN government volunteer them? Does the Communist government appreciate your scholarship enough to give you their concentration camp records? The death warrants for the executions?

You don't have any credible numbers.
Your alleged scholarship has already made outrageous statements like:
"The U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which killed as many as 150,000 Cambodian civilians..."

This bizarre number reminds me of Chomsky's flights of fancy. Come to think of it, he didn't believe in Pol Pot's "Killing Fields" either.
You have much in common with Noam - your loosely-applied scholarship and defense or denial of totalitarian murderers fits right in with his.

Next time you try to lecture me or any one else about scholarship you might reveal where you get your numbers. Tell us all how sources manage to count all those bodies in the jungle killed with US bombs. All those Cambodian villages (right on the Ho Chi Minh Trail) that were destroyed by your evil countrymen.

Next time lose the anti-American propaganda and remember this is supposed to be a history site.
Bill Heuisler


Arnold Shcherban - 4/12/2006

The so-called Iraqi war was AGRESSION
and remains in history and in the conscience of the world
as such forever!
(But not of course
in the memory of those who's lost conscience, or did not have any on the first place, and the sense of history riding high American horse).


Arnold Shcherban - 4/12/2006


God forbid, but provided this country
suffered such a tremendous loss of life and destruction on its own territory, as South East Asia did, we would see not mere reeducation, but mass murder of ideological and political opponents (not already mentioning colloboraters) on a scale
eclipsing whatever happenned in Vietnam.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/12/2006

That's the way I remember it, too. And again, I think if the revisionists really had any case our rabid mainstream media would have been on it before this. There have been numerous unmitigated horrors in history, and Hue was one of them. It doesn't fit the Weltanschauung of people who think the American involvement in Vietnam was immoral, so it has become a non-event and is getting dropped from the history books. And that's an outrage.

There is another reason we cannot cut and run from Iraq, and that is because we said we wouldn't. After a while, when you always say what you mean and do what you say, everyone in the world believes you--and you can escape having to visit a bloodbath on someone because he miscalculated. You also get in a position to threaten successfully, which is our current status with Iran and North Korea... Call it the Dubya Doctrine.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

May I suggest that you also read the other (and, importantly, later) studies I cited?

You wrote: “To assert [the Vietnamese] didn't [coldly and methodically execute ideological enemies as a matter of policy] after 1975 is sheer propaganda based on wishful thinking. Why make such distinctions? There are no reliable death-records after the fall of Saigon and we all rely on hearsay.”

We do not “all rely on hearsay”; some of us rely on scholarship. If you are aware of credible scholarship that substantiates the existence of a postwar Vietnamese bloodbath, please cite it. Otherwise, may I suggest that you refrain from charging me with “sheer propaganda based on wishful thinking”?


Arnold Shcherban - 4/12/2006

Peter,

What is it now? "We" have not started
the war in Vietnam? This is the big difference? Then, "we" have not started the "war" in Iraq either, since the period between the Gulf war and this one was just a truce, the conditions of which were violated by
Iraq. I heard something like this from
the very opponents of yours...
If it was a war in Vietnam, it was like today's Iraq's war comparing to what it became after deployment of hundreds of thousands of American troops and fierce terrorist bombardments of South and North Vietnam, and Cambodia, the bombardments that alone
killed tens of thousands of just civilians, not mentioning even greater
number of their military people.
Should the discussion be first and foremost about the perpertual illegal and immoral tactics of American military to use terror
bombardments of civil communities against any nation the US
goverments consider potentially dangerous or adversary.
Even the so-called "evil empire" Soviet Union did not bomb Pakistan
from the territory of which the Afgani
mudjahedins were getting practically
all their means of military survival, but the US mercilessly bombed Cambodia, killing tens of thousands
of people, mostly common civilans.
However, in view of the American (and
almost exclusively Americans) conservative and liberal "historians"
alike the Vietnam war was just a "mistake", but the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan was obvious agression.
When do "we" begin to recognize that
cherry-picking the agressions' and terror comdemnation on the ideological, partisan and/or "strategic" basis is one of the big reasons them (the majority in the world, especially, in the Third World) dislike and even hate this country?


Jack Eckert - 4/12/2006

Mr. Clayson

Quite interesting. Also rather ethnocentric. From our culture, yes they look like nothing more then shovanistic savages who have quite a bit of evolution to do. I agree with you completely, I believe how they treat their women is deplorable. I may even see it as fanatical. That is from the confines of my own culture and my own values. I refuse to get involved because it really is not my place. It is not my place to judge their culture and write them off as nothing but fanatics because they do not believe in my societies value of equality. Maybe someday they will achieve the same value, but that is an evolutionary process they will have to accomplish. Do you ever think for a second that they don't look at our society and think how backwards we are? How without values we are? They judge us just as you judge them. Who's right? Its a question you really can't answer. Any justification would be silly. I also know they hate me, but thank you for reminding me. That makes them very fanatical, I mean how could they hate me when the society of which I am part of is so arrogant that we look down on them as fanatics. I'm not trying to diminish women's rights, but remember those are ideals we value and not necessarily shared by the rest of the world. This is certainly a tangent, and is not related at all to the article written.



Mr Willis,

Why not get the reasons from the villan himself? Osama's group released two fatwahs, one in 1996 and a redistribution in 1998 that spelled out the reasons for American hatred pretty clearly. It was actually pretty narrow in scope. From what I can interpret, the 3 reasons from the second fatwah are:

1.) The US for 7 seven years has occupied their lands.
2.) The devasation reaped on Iraq by Security Council sanctions.
3.) Our support of Israel

In the first Fatwah Osama also blames us for 600,000 children dead due to sanctions we upheld.

Here is the link for both of them:

http://www.mideastweb.org/osamabinladen1.htm

According to them, this is why they hate us. We have simplified it too "they hate our way of life" but I think they were hinting at something else in their text.


Scott Laderman - 4/12/2006

Just a few brief remarks:

You wrote: “I think we can probably agree that massive intervention in Vietnam dates from the early 1960s (not 1945) and the massive intervention in Iraq (apart from the few months of the Gulf War of 1991) from the March 2003 invasion.”

The first part of the sentence is accurate only if one ignores the First Indochina War. While the war was fought largely with troops representing France (though most were not actually French), by 1954 the United States, which had armed and trained the French troops, was paying for approximately eighty percent of France’s war expenses. You may not consider this “massive intervention”; however one chooses to characterize it, I believe it is crucial in understanding the continuing American involvement of the 1960s.

Also: “We, however, do not seem to be in agreement about the degree of relevance of the Vietnam experience to our current predicament. I would rate it as dangerous and ridiculously over-stressed, particularly by the pitiful joke that calls itself an anti-war movement today. You seem to have an agenda to make as many parallels as possible regardless of relevance to current decision-making.”

To which parallels are you referring? My references to early American involvement in Vietnam have not been efforts to analogize to the current situation in Iraq but to address your inaccurate or misleading allusions to this earlier American history.

And: “Nothing that happened in Indochina in 1945 has any significant bearing on the radical difference between the 1965 long-term build-up to intervene in a PRE-EXISTING CIVIL WAR versus the EXTREMELY INVASION OF A COUNTRY NOT AT WAR (with America, any other country or itself) [in 2003].”

I disagree with the suggestion that the United States suddenly intervened in 1965 in “a PRE-EXISTING CIVIL WAR.” There were, to be sure, elements of a civil war in Vietnam. But your characterization is far too simplistic, I believe, when one side in the conflict was created, armed, trained, and funded by the United States and, in 1965, remained utterly dependent on it.


Bill Heuisler - 4/12/2006

Mr. Laderman,
With respect, your reading of the Hue massacre is based in at least one case on rather shaky thinking.

You, Porter and Ackland make a distinction without a difference. You base "bloodbath" on numbers and cite Porter and Ackland, but Porter and Ackland dispute "bloodbath" on interpretation of motives they cannot possibly know.

Porter and Ackland interpret the motives of the NVA in their:
"Vietnam: The Bloodbath Argument," The Christian Century, November 5, 1969. pp. 1414-1417. They outline some details and cite the timing of Huê's Massacre - who and when they died - in the 26-day NVA occupation.

They theorize mass killings happened when the NVA finally decided they were going to lose the city to the Marines. Porter and Ackland write the massacres did not appear to have been planned by the North Vietnamese Communists at first, so consequent killings were not "real" evidence of a potential bloodbath if the NVA took all South Vietnam.

They think the killing of as many as 5,800 civilians in 26 days was just a whim, and not part of a systematic plan to decimate the anti-Communist South. They read NVA minds and then project NVA motives on the basis of mere assumption and conjecture.

First, mass graves were found throughout Thua Thien Province.
Second, recall eyewitness accounts (Marine Sergeant, Dale Dye for one) of the 170 civilian bodies buried in the Gia Hoi high school playground with hands wired behind their backs, rags stuffed in their mouths, bodies contorted and no visible wounds. These well-dressed civilians from a nearby Roman Catholic church were obviously buried alive. This is a particularly agonizing way to die and the site indicates a methodical expression of extreme hatred.

The two facts do not show despair of winning nor a momentary rage, but they show cold-blooded killing of the members of society most against Communism. In other words, you can ignore dead Cambodian millions and call concentration camps and fleeing boat people insufficient, but the Hue massacre was the work of NVA Communist Commissars who, coldly and methodically, executed ideological enemies as a matter of policy.

To assert they didn't do the same after 1975 is sheer propaganda based on wishful thinking. Why make such distinctions? There are no reliable death-records after the fall of Saigon and we all rely on hearsay.

Lastly the attempt to draw parallels over thirty years between Communist fanaticism and Islamist terrorism, and their supposed reactions to past and future actions, is a transparent (and historically absurd) attempt to opppose a war the US wages in Iraq against terrorists who've attacked Americans for twenty years.

The reason we shouldn't pull out is that it would be a dire defeat for freedom everywhere. A bloodbath is very much beside the point.
Bill Heuisler


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

You wrote: “By the way, your cherry picking of the less impressive newspaper sources and not mentioning the more impressive sources, betrays a lack of confidence in your own assertions. “

I did not “cherry pick[]” anything. You wrote in your original message that you believed there to have been “165,000 killed or executed” after April 30, 1975. I thus focused on the only source you cited that listed that figure: the article in the _Orange County Register_. That is not “cherry picking”; it is addressing the relevant source.

Most of the sources you cited (via the website) address the tragic fate of the Vietnamese boat people. As these sources do not provide evidence for the actualization of the bloodbath theory, I did not address them.

The only source listed that refers to postwar executions -- other than that of Desbarats and Jackson and of the _Orange County Register_ -- is “Rummel.” (The Department of State, which is also listed on the website, did not conduct original research; it adopted Desbarats and Jackson’s charge.) “Rummel” is a reference to the work of Rudy Rummel, someone generally not considered a credible source among Vietnam specialists. His conclusions about the Vietnamese land reform atrocities of the 1950s, for example, have been thoroughly refuted; Edwin Moise, probably the leading scholar of the Vietnamese land reform, characterized Rummel’s work as “*really* inept scholarship.” [1] Rummel’s work on postwar Vietnamese executions relies on the studies by Desbarats and Jackson. And as I have mentioned several times now, the work of Desbarats and Jackson has been persuasively demolished.

NOTE:

[1] Edwin Moise, “Murder by Government [Moise],” H-Diplo, April 25, 2000; emphasis in the original.


Vernon Clayson - 4/11/2006

Well, thank you, Mr. Eckert. I believe Muslim fanatics is an appropriate term, if I were speaking of Hindu fanatics, for example, I could see your point. Other than that, I question "external justifications" as their reason for their actions. Do you think that their torturously strict and backward existence have nothing to do with their religious convictions? They are a silly lot, all born of woman, they deny females the slightest equality, in fact they seem to detest them. In my wildest imagination, I can't see "external justifaction" in that, and that is only a small part of their culture. By the way, they hate you to a degree you can't imagine.


Douglas M. Charles - 4/11/2006

>"In reality, there is no real war in Iraq. In a war, even a metaphorical war, like the "war on cavities" or the "war on terrorism", there is an identifiable enemy."

There is no real war in Iraq? What are they doing over there, playing capture the flag?

It's very much a real war, but you're confusing rhetoric with reality. Yes, the "War on Terrorism" is metaphorical (how can one fight a war against a tactic)?

The problem is in the colossally arrogant and uninformed/ incompetent reasons we went to war with Iraq. Those lies/distortions/untruths (whatever you want to call them) have resulted in a guerilla war that very much is real. Just because there is not an easily identifiable enemy doesn't mean war does not exist; it’s a war of attrition in which the winner will be who outlasts whom (and we don’t have the advantage).

Further, asserting that the purpose of the war was to re-elect Bush is to vastly underestimate the Bush administration. The war in Iraq stands as firm evidence of an inept neo-conservative policy: that terrorists must be linked to Saddam, that bin Laden must be friendly with Saddam because they are both "evil," that democracy can be imposed and this will somehow solve our problems, that the war can be paid for with Iraqi oil, that it can be won with less troops and in short order.

It comes down to very bad, and arrogant, leadership. leadership.


Frederick Thomas - 4/11/2006


Mr. Laderman:

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I list below the complete entry, including conflicting figures from many sources, including the UN, the US Department of State, The Australian Ministry of Immigration, and almost every published book on the subject.

The author, who has a lot more education than say, Ben Franklin, nonetheless has a fine academic approach: look at all of it, from all sources, and make your own judgment. He does this below and comes up with 430,000 including the boat people.

By the way, your cherry picking of the less impressive newspaper sources and not mentioning the more impressive sources, betrays a lack of confidence in your own assertions.


-----------------------------------

Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl Jackson ("Vietnam 1975-1982: The Cruel Peace", in The Washington Quarterly, Fall 1985) estimated that there had been around 65,000 executions. This number is repeated in the Sept. 1985 Dept. of State Bulletin article on Vietnam.

Orange County Register (29 April 2001): 1 million sent to camps and 165,000 died.

Northwest Asian Weekly (5 July 1996): 150,000-175,000 camp prisoners unaccounted for.

Estimates for the number of Boat People who died:

Elizabeth Becker (When the War Was Over, 1986) cites the UN High Commissioner on Refugees: 250,000 boat people died at sea; 929,600 reached asylum

The 20 July 1986 San Diego Union-Tribune cites the UN Refugee Commission: 200,000 to 250,000 boat people had died at sea since 1975.

The 3 Aug. 1979 Washington Post cites the Australian immigration minister's estimate that 200,000 refugees had died at sea since 1975.

Also: "Some estimates have said that around half of those who set out do not survive."

The 1991 Information Please Almanac cites unspecified "US Officials" that 100,000 boat people died fleeing Vietnam.

Encarta estimates that 0.5M fled, and 10-15% died, for a death toll of 50-75,000.

Nayan Chanda, Brother Enemy (1986): ¼M Chinese refugees in two years, 30,000 to 40,000 of whom died at sea. (These numbers also repeated by

Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990 (1991))

Rummel
Vietnamese democide: 1,040,000 (1975-87)
Executions: 100,000
Camp Deaths: 95,000
Forced Labor: 48,000
Democides in Cambodia: 460,000
Democides in Laos: 87,000

Boat People: 500,000 deaths (50% not blamed on the Vietnamese govt.)
ANALYSIS: I'd say the most likely total would be 430,000. That's 65,000 executions + 165,000 camp deaths + 200,000 boat people. It's unlikely that VN alone caused 460+87T democides in Cambodia + Laos since estimates of the total deaths in these conflicts only run to a half million or so.


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

This is the first time I have seen attention to accuracy characterized as an “historically untenable and frankly amateurish [attempt] to try to split hairs.” As for the remainder of the last paragraph, it sets out to dispute an argument I did not make. Your use of “to say” is thus misleading.


Rob Willis - 4/11/2006

What external reasons are those, exactly? Can you cite the named parties expressing such reason, because I would like to hear them and refer to them in the future.

R. Willis


Jack Eckert - 4/11/2006

I apoligize for the short, rather angry sounding post.

I will narrow my criticism to a couple of comments. First, the scope of the article was to debunk the bloodbath theory of perpetuating war to avoid a bloodbath. If you want to argue the article's point, a more insightful way of doing so would be to explain how a bloodbath did occur when the US exited the highlighted regions. To complain that the failures of the democratic presidents failed before Nixon and Clinton failed and that is the reason for today's predicament is rather irrelevant, but there are a couple of articles on HNN where such an argument can be made if you wish. The two administrations highlighted in the article were highlighted because both used and are using the bloodbath theory to continue engagement in the war, although I would agree I think a bias could be inferred, it certainly isn't obvious. This is not a "I hate republicans" paper. If it is, its hidden sufficiently.

You make the statement "positive and necessary action against them" in regards to muslim fanatics. If you seriously believe that bombing muslim people is a positive action, something has failed somewhere. I hardly believe the muslim religion is the reason for the fanatics people such as Al Qaeda exhibit. All religions have fanatics I agree, but there are other external reasons that exist for the fanaticism exhibited by Al Qaeda. It may seem small, but the inclusion of "muslim fanatics" I believe really characterizes a stereotype rather then an actual group or person. The fanatics I believe your talking about, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Al Qaeda have more external justifications for their functions rather then their religion. Whether their justifications are truly justified is a whole other debate, one in which I do not wish to partake in, but I believe you would be better served by just saying "fanatics."


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

From what I can gather, the bulk of your latest entry, like the one preceding it, is not responsive to my essay or subsequent comments. I will thus ignore most of it.

You do, however, make several claims to which I would like to respond.

You wrote: “You don't focus on the hypocrisy that got us into Iraq. Indeed the historical origins of America's massive military involvements in Iraq and Vietnam are fairly well bypassed altogether. It is not a trivial omission to leave out completely a discussion of the causes of a problem when discussing possible solutions to that problem.”

I am sorry that you did not like the limited focus of my essay. You are welcome to write and publish your own.

Then: “You suggest that we should leave Iraq because a large majority of Iraqis (probably) would like us to. This is neither a morally justifiable position given that our regime change and nation-building there is incomplete (e.g. we smashed Saddam's regime but have not yet established a viable successor) nor do you show that it is likely to be used as a major rationale in the future.”

I am not sure what is meant by “nor do you show that it is likely to be used as a major rationale in the future.” But if your earlier statements about “elementary morality” rest on defying the wishes of most Iraqis, then we certainly do disagree.

Also: “This, by the way, points to another vast difference to Vietnam where our mission was essentially defensive: keeping Hanoi from taking control of S. Vietnam, not trying to improvise, from scratch, and on the cheap, a stable pro-Western democracy in a region that has never had one.”

Your understanding of the history of the United States and Vietnam is, to put it generously, mistaken. When you assert that “our mission [in Vietnam] was essentially defensive,” to “keep Hanoi from taking control of S. Vietnam,” are you not aware that, prior to 1954, by which time the United States was financing roughly eighty percent of France’s war costs, there was no “S. Vietnam”? And how does your comment correspond to the 1954 Geneva accords, which recognized the unity and territorial integrity of Vietnam as a single, independent state? When you charge that the United States was not trying to “improvise” a “stable pro-Western democracy,” are you not familiar with the American effort to create a viable government and independent, anti-Communist state in southern Vietnam after 1954?

Also: “Your comparative discussion of the bloodbath arguments c. 35 years ago and now is interesting but not central to the key historical questions of how America got in and out Vietnam and into Iraq, and how it might get out of Iraq in the future. It is in the realm of hypothetical counterfactuals to say that the Cambodian genocide could have been averted if America had stayed in Indochina longer or never gone in the first place.”

True. But, then again, I did not raise the issue of the Cambodian genocide in my essay. The relevance of your comment is thus unclear to me.

And finally: “Re your latest post: The fact that America was trivially involved with the French restoration in 1945 is about as relevant to the origins of America's massive 1965 build-up there as the attacks of 9-11-01 are to the real reasons why Cheney and Bush were so obsessed with wanting to go after Saddam on 9-12-01. Not totally irrelevant, but hardly central.”

You previously wrote that “Vietnam was quite different because WE DID NOT START the military activity then.” That is an empirical claim. I responded in my last entry that your statement was not entirely accurate. Rather than concede this point, you have now shifted the focus from American “military activity” in 1945 to “America’s massive 1965 build-up.” You are of course welcome to do so, but do recognize that that was not the “START” of American “military activity” in Vietnam.


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

You will likely be interested in Seth Jacobs's recent book that, in part, explores the significance of religion to the American commitment to Vietnam in the 1950s (and, to some extent, later). It is Seth Jacobs, _America's Miracle Man in Vietnam: Ngo Dinh Diem, Religion, Race, and U.S. Intervention in Southeast Asia_ (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2004).


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

For scholarship refuting the conventional “Hue Massacre” narrative, see D. Gareth Porter and Len E. Ackland, “Vietnam: The Bloodbath Argument,” _Christian Century_ 86:45 (November 5, 1969): 1414-1417; D. Gareth Porter, “The 1968 ‘Hue Massacre,’” _Indochina Chronicle_ 33 (June 24, 1974): 2-13; and Edward Herman and D. Gareth Porter, “The Myth of the Hue Massacre,” _Ramparts_ 13:8 (May-June 1975): 8-13. The third chapter of my dissertation is devoted to the subject; see Scott Laderman, _Witnessing the Past: History, Tourism, and Memory in Vietnam 1930-2002_ (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 2005), 183-254.


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

You wrote: “You may be content trusting senior intelligence officials to read important historical documents for us and lettinng us know what's in them, but I would hope most other ‘analysts’ would not be so trusting. Of course their skepticism is ridiculous: Senior intelligence officials have no interest in whether the Bush administration is vindicated! There's nothing to see here. Move on people!”

Your sarcastic response masks a convenient elision. You earlier made a positive charge that “the evidence suggests … a link [i.e., an Iraq-al Qaeda link] exists.” You have yet to cite any specific evidence in support of your allegation. You vaguely alluded to “the Stephen Hayes Weekly Standard article from November”; he wrote four articles in November 2005. Which article is it? What is the specific evidence he cites that you, unlike American intelligence officials, find compelling? And, importantly, why should Hayes’s recent interpretation of documentary evidence from which American intelligence officials have distanced themselves -- an interpretation based on documents that the government acknowledges may be fabricated, inaccurate, or poorly translated -- be considered more reliable than Hayes’s earlier interpretation of documentary evidence on the same matter -- an interpretation that the Department of Defense conceded was “inaccurate.” [1]

You then wrote: “The organizatioal advantages of Islamists and Ba'athists in any early election IS a security concern in of itself. Such advantages do not rest in their ability to throw better weenie roasts to promote their tax policies: the advantages rested in their ability to use terror and violence and intimidation to change the outcome.”

Could you cite specific evidence indicating that this was a serious concern of the Bush administration in 2003 and 2004 when it quashed the possibility of Iraqi elections? Broad charges lacking an empirical foundation may be acceptable in a high school debate, but in a scholarly forum a higher evidentiary standard is required.

And: “Despite your wishes, it is not the Bush administration that is using force to alter democracy; it is using force to protect it. Islamists and Ba'athists (in whom you have so much faith as participants in a democratic process) use force to alter results - murdering people so they stay home, trying to provoke sectarian violence and reprisals and radicalize the outcome of the election, etc.”

Again, specific evidence indicating that this was a serious concern of the Bush administration in 2003 and 2004 would be appreciated. Also, if the United States was determined to “protect democracy” in Iraq, and such democracy would be imperiled by “sectarian violence” and reprisals, then how do you explain the Bush administration’s possible promotion of the “Salvador option” in the country, including the potential use of assassinations or "snatch" operations against members of the Sunni Arab community. [2]

Finally, you wrote: “Your piece is ahistorical because you propose some kind of absurd, immmediate election….”

I did not propose any election, immediate or otherwise, in my essay. Is this a demonstration of your fealty to the accurate presentation of evidence? Needless to say, I am not impressed.

NOTES:

[1] United States Department of Defense, “DoD Statement on News Reports of Al Qaeda and Iraq Connections,” News Release No. 851-03, November 15, 2003, at <http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2003/nr20031115-0642.html>; (Accessed on April 11, 2006).

[2] Michael Hirsh and John Barry with Mark Hosenball, “‘The Salvador Option,’” _Newsweek_ (January 8, 2005), at <http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/>; (Accessed on March 24, 2006).


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/11/2006

Lawrence

I think part of the problem is that the term "bloodbath" is horribly unclear. Does it mean any unnecessary killing? Does the term require rising to the level of the Khmer Rouge? If it means something in between, then where in between.

The term is especially challenging in this case because the Vietnamese War was, in part, a civil war, and prolonged civil wars tend to be pretty nasty, particularly in their final stages. (Our own civil war, for all its horror, was comparatively clean in that regard. Even Sherman's sojourn through the South killed few civilians. The condition at POW camps and the southern treatment of captured black soldiers were the major exceptions )

Above, I tended to interpret bloodbath as the deliberate targeting of masses of civilians throughout the country, but I would never suggest that killing at a lower level was somehow justified.


Douglas M. Charles - 4/11/2006


The very idea that there would be a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda is patently absurd, nay stupid, and rooted in absolute ignorance about what al Qaeda is all about.

Al Qaeda (bin Laden) are ideological extremists who are not interested in convenient alliances against the United States. Al Qaeda's goal is to destroy all the governments in Muslim states because they are regarded as corrupted with their links to the decadent West, especially the United States. Once these government are destroyed, al Qaeda hopes to implement the old Caliphate --- restoration of the old Islamic empire which harkens back to the years when they were the leading civilization on Earth.

If anything, Bush offered bin Laden a gift on a silver platter: chaos in Iraq which gives al Qaeda at least a chance to see their plans go forward. The smarter plan, as distasteful as it is, would have been to practice realpolitik and use Saddam as a block against bin Laden and his plans.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/11/2006

I had never before seen any questioning of the massacre at Hue by the communists, of the bourgeoisie of the town, the educated professionals, proprietors and landlord classes, when the city briefly changed hands. The corpses were piled pretty high, and the Marines and others who were soon on the scene were pretty sure about it. There is considerable Hue atrocity evidence on the internet today, with pictures... If this was all a lie I believe our pinko fourth estate would taken the bit in their teeth and run with it by now... There is a Houdon bust of an 18th century duc d'Hue in the Frick in New York. I have never seen french aristocratic hauteur captured better than in the eyes of that statue. If it is still in the same place it sits in the hall near Titian's "Young Man in a Red Cap," and Holbein's Sir Thomas More. Just three of the Frick's many, many, towering monuments to the superiority of Western civilization, which everyone who lives in New York should visit at least once a month.


Jason KEuter - 4/11/2006

You may be content trusting senior intelligence officials to read important historical documents for us and lettinng us know what's in them, but I would hope most other "analysts" would not be so trusting. Of course their skepticism is ridiculous: Senior intelligence officials have no interest in whether the Bush administration is vindicated! There's nothing to see here. Move on people!

The organizatioal advantages of Islamists and Ba'athists in any early election IS a security concern in of itself. Such advantages do not rest in their ability to throw better weenie roasts to promote their tax policies: the advantages rested in their ability to use terror and violence and intimidation to change the outcome.

Despite your wishes, it is not the Bush administration that is using force to alter democracy; it is using force to protect it. Islamists and Ba'athists (in whom you have so much faith as participants in a democratic process) use force to alter results - murdering people so they stay home, trying to provoke sectarian violence and reprisals and radicalize the outcome of the election, etc.

Your piece is ahistorical because you propose some kind of absurd, immmediate election under the following circumstances:

1. the immediate aftermath of an invasion.

2. the former government waging a clandestine war and ready to come back to power once the Americans leave; this, in turn, makes villages less than anxious to elect anti-Ba'athists; unless, of course, those anti-Ba'athists can demonstrate a severe enough degree off violence to assure voters that they can take care of the Sunnis themselves.

3. a majority of the population shi'ite, reasonably seeing bullets extracting vengeance after their ballots are cast.

Your view that elections under such circumstances would be emblematic of democracy is both wrong and foolish. Arguing that the presence of Ba'athists all over Iraq would yield results that were not in accordance with US interests does not mean that an election under such circumstances could be taken to signify the fulfillment of the will of the Iraqi people.


Vernon Clayson - 4/11/2006

Thanks, I didn't think it would do any good to respond to Mr. Eckert. He is entitled to his opinions but, as you said, he should add something, anything, to the discussion rather than merely submitting a putdown, his response sounds like some of the angry people on the Slate site.


Bill Heuisler - 4/11/2006

Mr. Clayson,
Pardon my clumsy wording. I was agreeing with you and poking gentle fun at Mr. Eckert's disdainful put-down of your supposed bias.
Bill Heuisler


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

While the focus of my essay was Vietnam, not Cambodia, I must note that two million Cambodians were not “clubbed to death” after 1975. But the case of Cambodia is instructive. The U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which killed as many as 150,000 Cambodian civilians, led to “economic and political destabilization” that, together with Washington’s support for the Lon Nol dictatorship, contributed to the emergence of the Khmer Rouge as a viable political force. [1] So hostile was the United States to Vietnam, which overthrew the genocidal Khmer Rouge in late 1978 – a development interpreted by the Carter administration as an expansion of Soviet power – that Washington “secretly supported efforts to resuscitate and sustain” the “remaining military forces” of the Khmer Rouge in its insurgency against the Phnom Penh government. [2]

As for Vietnam after 1975, the suggestion that the tragic plight of the boat people should be interpreted as evidence of the bloodbath theory’s materialization is absurd, even by the often sloppy standards of apologists for American aggression.

NOTES:

[1] Ben Kiernan, _The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79_ (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books, 1996), 16.

[2] Kenton Clymer, “Jimmy Carter, Human Rights, and Cambodia,” Diplomatic History 27:2 (April 2003): 246-247.


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

I must confess to some confusion. Are you suggesting that I am one of the “Democratic rubberstampers” whose “spineless cowardice” enabled the 2003 invasion and that I am now exhibiting “blatant hypocrisy” in my advocacy of an American withdrawal? If that is not what you are suggesting, then why did you respond thusly to my comments? And, to clarify, are you claiming that the Bush administration wishes to “cut and run” from Iraq? If so, could you provide evidence for this claim?

You wrote that “Vietnam was quite different because WE DID NOT START the military activity then.” This is true only in a very narrow technical sense; while the United States did not make the decision to commence the First Indochina War, it was certainly complicit in the “START” of its “military activity.” It was American troopships, after all, that began transporting U.S.-armed French troops and Foreign Legionnaires to Vietnam in the autumn of 1945, enabling Washington's European ally to begin the attempted reconquest of its former Indochinese colony. [1]

NOTE:

[1] H. Bruce Franklin, _Vietnam and Other American Fantasies_ (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), 50.


Scott Laderman - 4/11/2006

With all due respect, the website you cited is not a credible source. Indeed, its creator describes himself as “[n]o one in particular” whose “academic credentials are pretty slim.” The lack of academic credentials does not, of course, preclude the possibility of sound scholarship; this is not sound scholarship, however.

The website ascribes the figure of 165,000 postwar executions to a 2001 article in the _Orange County Register_. Although the website does not mention it, that article cites unnamed “published academic studies in the United States and Europe.” Citing a website that cites a newspaper article that cites several unnamed studies is not a sufficient foundation from which to claim that 165,000 Vietnamese were “killed or executed” after April 30, 1975.

The only original academic studies of which I am aware that have attempted to demonstrate the existence of a postwar Vietnamese bloodbath are those by Jacqueline Desbarats and Karl D. Jackson; I cited these in endnote 10 of my essay. The total of 165,00 executions claimed in the _Orange County Register_ seems especially suspicious to me given that it is identical to the figure reached by adding together Desbarats and Jackson’s earlier and Desbarats’s later works. In their earlier studies Desbarats and Jackson arrived at a figure of at least 65,000 executions; in a later study Desbarats claimed that “possibly more than 100,000” had been executed. As I noted in the essay, Desbarats and Jackson’s work was effectively refuted by Gareth Porter and James Roberts. Desbarats and Jackson’s work is acknowledged on the website you cited, but the website curiously fails to acknowledge Porter and Roberts’s scholarly critique of it.

I stand by my assertion that there is no credible evidence of a postwar bloodbath in Vietnam.


Vernon Clayson - 4/10/2006

Mr. Heusler, I was asking for balance. American involvement in Vietnam did not start with Nixon, it ended with him. I grant that it was a clumsy ending but not nearly as clumsy as the trumped up story about Vietnamese naval vessels attacking our ships in the Gulf of Perfidy, I could use the real name of the bay but that more than serves. That was LBJ in action and, while a despicable pretense, was preferable to Bill Clinton's non-response to the USS Cole bombing. LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin fray was fanciful, the USS Cole resulted in 17 American deaths, hardly fanciful. For Clinton, the USS Cole was a logistics problem, i.e., how do we get that ship home. There is enough blame to go around, scholars can discuss this war in comparison to the next one - it doesn't stop.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/10/2006

The relationship between American involvement and Cambodia's fate is much more problematic than the relationship with Vietnam's fate. We never had the level of forces there that we had in South Vietnam; nor did we attempt much if any national building. It was a problematic battle field and a source of one or our local allies, the Hmong, and we never gave its well being much consideration.

Also, I would argue, the killing fields there were far less predictable. This was because the Communists went so far beyond what was needed to subjugate the country that they destroyed their own capacity to resist outside aggression. (Put differently, the Khmer Rouge were far less rational than Stalin, and that level of insanity is hard to predict.)


Bill Heuisler - 4/10/2006

Mr. Eckert,
Your fascinating, point by point dissection of Mr. Clayson's post was wonderful to read. Could you be a little more specific as to the JFK and LBJ parts for us novices?

And, if you can spare the time, maybe you could indicate once again where Mr. Clayson was innacurate.

Otherwise, brilliant post.
Bill Heuisler


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 4/10/2006

It seems to me there were about two million Cambodians clubbed to death, and about one and a half million Vietnamese "boat people" sailing into nowhere following the conclusion of the Vietnam War, not to mention tens of thousands marched into "reeducation" (death) camps... Fortunately some of the boat people survived, and are living today in a neighborhood near you. They now have two cars, highly educated children, and speak good English. Why don't we hear a bit more from them? They are not very hard to find, and normally live in precincts that voted heavily for George W. Bush. We should also hear a lot less from the former draft dodgers and Nixon-hating schmucks.


Frederick Thomas - 4/10/2006


Mr. Laderman:

Thank you for your post.

The numbers I have seen for Vietnam are 165,000 killed or executed post war, and about ten times that put into reeducation centers, of which a percentage died. The total postwar dead have been estimated at 330,000. This is a substantial number, and typical of what happened elsewhere as Communists consolidate their power.

http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat3.htm

Perhaps Nixon as quoted in the article was very reasonable in estimating "hundreds of thousands."


Jack Eckert - 4/10/2006

And your bias doesn't?


Scott Laderman - 4/10/2006

I note with interest that, despite my request, you failed to provide any evidence backing your previous assertion that the Bush administration “opposed an early election … because of security concerns.” Rather, you now appear to be arguing that it was right and proper that the United States refused to allow the June 2003 elections because Iraqis could not “choose their own leaders” in “the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of the Ba’athist regime.” When would be soon enough? Over a year later in the autumn of 2004? If so, why, late in 2003, did the Bush administration veto a technical plan for a nationwide Iraqi election in September 2004, which was after the United States was claiming it intended to restore Iraqi sovereignty? [1] The administration’s opposition to elections, you wrote without citation to any evidence, was “certainly not based in any hostility to Iraqi freedom.” I think it may be helpful here to clarify what is meant by “freedom.” It is not, I would argue, the denial of Iraqis’ right to choose their own leadership on a schedule chosen by them. Is it, as you suggest, “shap[ing] the result” of the Iraqi political process?

Rather than me wasting any more time on this issue, may I again suggest that you (and other interested readers) consult Seth Ackerman’s useful June 2005 essay? If you find the piece flawed, by all means indicate why. But Ackerman has covered this matter already; I would prefer not to expend additional energy replicating his efforts.

On the matter of the Iraqi documents, the reported view of a senior intelligence official is, I believe, instructive: “Our view is there’s nothing in here that changes what we know today.” [2] The official website for the documents, moreover, cautions that the government has “made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available.” [3] This is the evidence you had in mind when claiming that “the evidence suggests such a [Iraq-al Qaeda] link existed”?

I will leave it to others to judge whether my essay was “disturbingly ahistorical.”

NOTES:

[1] Joel Brinkley, “U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer,” _New York Times_, December 4, 2003. See also Seth Ackerman, “Misdirections on Iraq ‘Elections,’” _Extra!_ 17:2 (April 2004): 8-9.

[2] Scott Shane, “Iraqi Documents Are Put on Web, And Search Is On,” _New York Times_, March 28, 2006.

[3] Foreign Military Studies Office, Joint Reserve Intelligence Center, “Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents,” at <fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/products-docex.htm> (Accessed on April 10, 2006).


Vernon Clayson - 4/10/2006

Professor Laderman starts his article with the wind down of the Vietnam War and coincidentally, purposely or not, infers it was all Nixon's war. Any discussion of that war should include the parts played by JFK and LBJ, especially LBJ as he was so consumed by guilt that he chose not to run again. America, entranced by JFK's Camelot, overlooked his part and numbed to the loss of JFK were paralyzed by LBJ's continuation and escalation of the conflict. History has repeated itself, America, entranced by the antics and celebrity of Bill Clinton, have found no fault with his lack of attention to the threat of Muslim fanatics while putting on a full court press on GWB for taking positive and necessary action against them. Bush, like Nixon, was re-elected to a second term, both because they were doing the best they could in a situation foisted on them by their predecessors. Apparently picking up the pieces of Democrat failures does not please the media, hence their daily ranting. Professor Laderman, tell the entire story, your bias shows.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/10/2006

Concern for a bloodbath may have been manipulated in the 1970s and today, but that does not make the concern a lie. I suspect most people concerned with a bloodbath inflicted by the North Vietnamese really feared that one would occur.

Also, other people were making predictions at the time. I cannot give you citations and I suppose my memory may be faulty, but I'm pretty sure some war opponents believed the triump of the North would bring clear and immediate benefits to the south in a way that definitely did not occur.

Even some war opponents who were less certain that the North was a benign alternative did not anticipate the extent of the "reeducation" and the suffereing it would cause. That group would include me.

I think the outcome was probably predictable in a rough way at the time. The regime in the north was nationalist and ideologically doctrinaire. Unlike Stalin it had something resembling a vision of commmon good. That was one of many factors that made Vietnam very different from Cambodia. But still, that vision was not hedged by a great concern with individual rights.

It would interest me if anyone knows of American writers and intellectuals who predicted the aftermath of the Fall of Saigon accurately.


Scott Laderman - 4/10/2006

You objected to my characterization of the situation in Iraq as a “war.” Fine. I suspect, however, that those on the receiving end of the American campaign might feel otherwise.

Most of the remainder of your entry raises issues I did not address in my essay, so I will not respond.

I will briefly note, however, that I find interesting the suggestion that, on the grounds of “elementary morality,” the United States cannot “just walk away” from Iraq. The same argument was posited about the United States in Vietnam decades ago.

Today, most of those in the antiwar movement with whom I am familiar recognize American responsibility in aiding Iraq’s recovery. The question for me (and presumably others), however, is whether a continued American military occupation is the most appropriate means of doing so.

The Iraqi people have certainly made their preference known. Popular sentiment, according to a secret poll undertaken by the British Ministry of Defense in August 2005, overwhelmingly opposes the presence of American and British troops; indeed, fewer than one percent of Iraqis, according to the survey, believe that American and British military involvement is helping to improve security in the country. [1] It is possible that popular opinion has shifted radically in the seven or eight months since the poll was completed; if you have credible evidence of this, I would be grateful to see it. If not, how is the matter of “elementary morality” served by perpetuating the American military campaign against the apparent wishes of most Iraqis?

NOTE:

[1] Sean Rayment, “Secret MoD Poll: Iraqis Support Attacks on British Troops,” _Sunday Telegraph_ [London], October 23, 2005.


Jason KEuter - 4/10/2006

I believe there are a considerable number of documents from Iraq that have not yet been released. I am referring to the Stephen Hayes Weekly Standard article from November, which, based on a few of the small number of Iraqi governmnet documents that are available, suggested a much stronger relationship that at first suspected. I suspect you would join with other analyists and scholars in calling for the release of these documents so that you may follow that evidence wherever it takes you.

On point two, your article stated that the Bush administrations positions on Iraqi elections demonstrate they are not committed to "Iraqi freedom". The Bush administration - chastised for being unrepsonsive to others' views - agreed to earlier elections than it had initially wished. It's earlier reservations were well founded and certainly not based in any hostility to Iraqi freedom. And indeed, the Bush administration's point about Ba'athists and Islamists being the best organized and prepared to exploit premature elections is good reason to take a less immediate and radical course of action, which is, again, the very thing so many of Bush's critics attack him for. That Iraqis are not necessarily yet ready to choose their own leaders is not the point being made here. That they can't do that in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of the Ba'athist regime should be obvious, as if they just dusted off several decades of brutal dictatorship and instantaneously proceded to rationally reoconstruct what's left of their society. Only somewhat lacking cognizance of the nature of Sadaam's regime (i.e. most war opponents) could propose the kind of immediate "democracy" you advocate.

So, yes, I think point two of your post is ridiculous. I'll withdraw and apologize for the lie comment, as that implies something willfull on your part. I think you are willfully looking to argue against any virtues of the invasion. Your point about the bloodbath rationale as a cynical ploy to rescue the war from a well deserved historical repudiation is disturbingly ahistorical. If such a bloodbath seems possible (as indeed many warned prior to the war), then the fact that the US is there to prevent it is good. That it got there on false pretexts doesn't make stopping it bad. As Christopher Hitchens wrote, Sadaam's overthrow and civil war were coming to Iraq anyway; it's better to have the US there to manage and inhibit it and shape the result rather than let it run its own sickening course.

I'll join you in a clarion call for the release of Iraqi government documents....which will have to be treated with the utmost skepticism, should they perhaps suggest that Iraq should have been invaded and Sadaam Hussein removed from power...after all, how can we trust or rely on Sadaam Hussein to be truthful about anything....uh oh..cognitive dissonance ahead....


Scott Laderman - 4/10/2006

Thank you for the note, Mark.

It was not my intention to suggest that post-1975 Vietnam was “without casualties.” Far from it. But proponents of the bloodbath theory had something very specific and very grisly in mind: postwar reprisals in which hundreds of thousands (or millions) of those who collaborated with the Americans and the Saigon government, or who might have supported them, would be executed. There is no credible evidence indicating that such a bloodbath materialized. There is abundant evidence, however, demonstrating that, during the years in which the bloodbath theory was employed to prolong the war, hundreds of thousands of people -– Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and Americans –- lost their lives.


Scott Laderman - 4/10/2006

You wrote: "Regarding the Iraq-Al Qadea link: actually, the evidence suggests such a link existed. This is a story that is not being followed or explored."

What is meant here by “the Iraq-Al Qadea [sic] link”? I am not aware of any scholar who seriously claims that there were no contacts between members of al Qaeda and members of the Iraqi government. But this is quite different from a “relationship” characterized by Iraqi “support for al Qaeda,” which is what I wrote in the essay. If you are aware of credible evidence demonstrating such a collaborative relationship -- evidence that has, to date, apparently eluded most scholars and analysts -- I am sure I would not be alone in welcoming its disclosure.

You also wrote: "Point two is fascinating: the Bush administration is against freedom because it initially opposed an early election! ... Point two is disingenuous. No, I'm being disingenuous about point two. Point two is a lie."

You indicated that the Bush administration “opposed an early election” – that is, the one held in January 2005, nearly two years after the March 2003 ground invasion – “because of security concerns.” On what evidentiary basis do you make this claim?

The administration was hostile to elections in Iraq from the first weeks of the occupation. In all, elections were cancelled in “at least a dozen” provincial cities in the months following the March invasion. The reason was not security. As L. Paul Bremer noted, “It’s often the best-organized who win, and the best organized right now are the former Baathists and to some extent the Islamists.” [1] Both were considered unlikely to consent to American priorities for Iraq and the region. For U.S. officials, then, it seems that an appointed leadership was preferable to one chosen in an election.

May I recommend, as I did in the third endnote of the essay, that persons interested in the idea of American support for democracy in Iraq – which, at a minimum, implies the ability of Iraqis to determine their own leadership – consult Seth Ackerman’s useful essay on this issue?

NOTE:

[1] William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “Occupation Forces Halting Elections Throughout Iraq,” _Washington Post_, June 28, 2003.


Jason KEuter - 4/10/2006

1. Regarding the Iraq-Al Qadea link: actually, the evidence suggests such a link existed. This is a story that is not being followed or explored. Of course, was there ever a need for a smoking gun on this point? What was the argument for intervention: that Sadaam would develop weapons of Mass Destruction and that he would deliver them into the hands of Al Qadea terrorists, who in turn, would deliver them to American shores. The argument that this was not possible because the Ba'ath party is "secular" has always been absurd - attributing to both Al Qadea and Sadaam a concern over ideological consistency The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

2. Point two is fascinating: the Bush administration is against freedom because it initially opposed an early election! It did so because of security concerns, arguing that Iraq was not yet ready for the election. In no way, shape or form did this represent anything other than the Bush administration adopting a gradualist approach, which is the very thing the opponents of the war argued for as well!!@!@$%^!

That Iraq and the whole middle east is not yet ready for democracy is the argument of the anti-Bush left!

Point two is disingenuous.

No, I'm being disingenuous about point two.

Point two is a lie.


mark safranski - 4/10/2006

Hi Scott,

"Bloodbath" is a relative term.

Hanoi's treatment of the South after 1975 doesn't compare to Stalin's treatment of the Ukraine or North Korea's behavior today but it was certainly not without casualties. Reeducation camps, boat people, the Montagnards and so on - it was certainly harsher than what the French imposed in the 1930's after a nationalist revolt.

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