From Our Affiliate:
The Rev. Robert Moore
Coalition for Peace Action
The recent testimony of General David Patreaus has strong parallels to the deceptions used to justify continued US troop deployments 40 years ago in Vietnam. The mantra then was “There is light at the end of this tunnel.”
History showed that there was no possibility of a democratic, pro-US government standing on its own in Vietnam, as is the case currently in Iraq. This is because the Vietnamese people themselves didn’t support the puppet governments in South Vietnam, as the current Iraqi government is also not supported by a huge majority of citizens there.
Yet, throughout the tragic history of the Vietnam War, the American people were urged to keep supporting massive US troop deployments. We now know, through the Pentagon Papers and other documents, that this amounted to intentional deception at the highest levels of government, which knew that military escalation was failing.
US public opinion turned against the Vietnam War by 1969. As in today’s Congress, there were efforts starting with the bipartisan Hatfield-McGovern bill in 1970 to stop the war and force withdrawal of US troops. Tragically, that effort failed, and more than half of the total 58,000 US soldiers and 2 million Southeast Asians who died in that war were killed subsequently.
By June 1974, Congress finally passed a binding cut-off of funding for the war that mandated a complete US withdrawal by August 1975. The last US personnel were actually withdrawn by April. The war advocates said there would be a blood bath and that the other nations in the region would fall to communism in a domino effect. While there was inevitable turmoil after the US withdrew, these apocalyptic predictions didn’t come true.
Given that General Patreaus wrote an op-ed six weeks before the 2004 elections saying that the Iraqi military and police were making “good progress” toward standing up on their own, I wonder if the deceptions are intentional or just myopic. It’s hard to say if it’s intentional, or simply the stubborn denial of facts.
What is clear to everyone by now is that the American people were neo-conned into the Iraq war in the first place, through deception and manipulation. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no connection between Iraq’s government and the attacks of September 11, 2001, no cakewalk to a stable and democratic post-invasion Iraq.
The Bush Administration is now trying to neo-con us into continuing to tolerate and support continuing US troop deployment to another civil war and quagmire. Much of the deception, as before, uses two means: cherry picking and manipulating the facts, and moving the goal posts.
An example of the first is the assertion that Iraqi casualties from sectarian violence are declining. That is only the case if large numbers of casualties are not counted, which the Bush Administration does by excluding victims shot in the front of the head instead of the back; and by excluding people killed in car bombings not considered to have sectarian motives. The most reliable independent count, by the Associated Press, shows the number of Iraqi casualties this summer to be the highest since the US invaded over four years ago.
In terms of moving the goal posts, Congress and the Bush Administration agreed that the “surge” (which should have truthfully been called the escalation) would be evaluated in mid-September by mutually agreed objective benchmarks. Independent analyses show that almost none of those benchmarks have been met, especially in terms of creating a viable unified national government or Iraqi troops and police replacing US troops to provide basic security.
So the Bush Administration has simply changed the goal to “local security,” which it “achieves” by making Faustian alliances with local insurgents against Al Qaida in Iraq. The only thing that is certain about this temporary “success” is that these militias will eventually use the weapons the US is supplying to them against our troops and the Iraqi government forces.
The truth is that there is no light at the end of the Iraq tunnel, as there was none at the end of Vietnam. The only moral and sensible steps to take are to withdraw US troops, renounce permanent US military bases in Iraq, and undertake a surge of diplomacy and Iraqi-controlled, internationally supervised rebuilding.