Skip to content

Iraq is not South Korea, it is more like Viet Nam

On NBC’s “Today” show, Matt Lauer asked John McCain about the surge strategy in Iraq: “If it’s working Senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?” McCain’s response:

No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq, Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw. General [David] Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are.

Now, I know that what McCain is trying to do is justify his earlier statement that it would be alright if American troops remained in Iraq for 100 years or longer. The point he keeps trying to make is that we have troops in other countries without problems, so you shouldn’t fault him for saying we might have troops in Iraq for long periods of time.

The problem, which isn’t being pointed out enough, is that John McCain thinks that we could keep troops in Iraq without major casualties. The only people who actually believe that are the same people who claimed that the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators. He sounds like those people who used to claim that we could have won the war in Viet Nam if we had tried harder, and that we only lost it because we lost the political will to fight it. Except that McCain is trying to say the same thing about Iraq.

Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, just like Viet Nam was in a civil war. Even General Patraeus has said that there is no military solution to this problem.

But McCain doesn’t get it. After all, McCain has repeatedly confused Sunni and Shia (the two major factions fighting the civil war), and even keeps claiming that Iran is training al-Qaeda, even though everyone knows this is not true.

McCain’s only criticism of the war in Iraq is how we are fighting it, the same argument used by people who thought we could win in Viet Nam. But when you ask him how we should be fighting it, all he can say is “Stay the course” — the exact same thing we have been hearing from Bush and Cheney for more than five years.

Even worse, McCain’s reason why we should “stay the course” is so that our troops can “come home with honor and victory, not in defeat”.  Again, he sounds like those people who warned that a defeat in Viet Nam would lead to a huge communist victory in SE Asia. McCain is playing the same “honor” card played by Nixon to keep us in Viet Nam. But we were defeated there anyway, and did anything terrible happen? Did the dominos fall? Did SE Asia become a communist stronghold? No. Viet Nam is now a member of the World Trade Organization and has earned Most Favored Nation status from the US.

The vast majority of Iraqi citizens want us out. Even the US troops who are in Iraq think we should not be there. And of course, most Americans don’t want us there. It is time McCain explained why he wants us to remain there. 



  1. Jes wrote:

    Actually I’d argue the Iraq war is more like the Spanish American war (which formally only lasted 3 weeks or so like the initial invasion of Iraq) but became an insurgency quagmire for years after as the Filipino-American War (the name used in the Philippines) or the Filipino Insurrection (the name used by the US Government and DOD official histories). Ironically the political revisionism used by the US in this war is eerily parallel to the language used at the Japanese Yasakuni Shrine which describes the “Rape of Nanking” as “The Nanking Incident” and the “Invasion of Manchuria” as the “Manchurian Insurrection” as if Japan never last WWII.

    The political constituency, values and political beliefs of the Neocons and PNAC who were behind the Iraq War are even the same as the American pro-Empire forces behind the Spanish-American War. Like the Iraq War, the primary News media were directly complicit in the creation, initiation and deception that started the Spanish-American War.

    The Spanish-American resulted in the creation of America’s first and only official colony, the Philippines. The stated laws, rights and occupation goals and timelines for Iraq are precisely those of a colonial power establishing a colony again.

    Precisely like the Spanish-American War, the native population violently resisted the occupation. The hit-and-run tactics used by the Filipinos introduced the Filipino word “Bundok” meaning “Mountains” or “Hills” as the word “boondock” as the insurgents would retreat to the “boondocks” after raids and patroling the insurgent-ruled “boondocks” became synonymous with a place that was “out in the middle of nowhere without the support of civilization (or military reinforcements)”.

    Just like the Spanish-American War, Iraqi civilian casualties are higher than insurgent casualties because of Bayesian Invisibility inherent to all guerrilla warfare: most casualties were civilians with absolutely no connection to guerrillas but also with absolutely no sympathy for the occupying force. Most casualties were women and children.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  2. iron wrote:

    Excellent comment. Unfortunately, only people as old as McCain would remember that war.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink