Tuesday, November 07, 2006

US will thrive after Iraq; locals will suffer - Gideon Rachman - Financial Times

David Seaton's News Links
The big difference between Iraq and Vietnam, in my opinion, is in the difference in ideological potency between Islam and Marxist-Leninism. Marxist-Leninism had a great attraction for young, nationalist intellectual elites in the third world and gave them an organizational structure, international connections and financing for forming a revolutionary vanguard and cadres. However Marxism never had much attraction in itself for the masses and neither did proletarian internationalism . A traditional "ultra-nationalist - international" is a contradiction in terms. But, Islam squares that circle: Islam works on the level of the most militant, nationalist chauvinism, while at the same time being international. In the Vietnam equation there was no wild card factor like Israel, which at the same time stimulates nationalist and internationalist feelings among the masses and elites alike in Muslim countries. Losing in Iraq will have graver consequences for American power than Vietnam. DS

Abstract: If (the Democrats) win, then what? The White House will still make the big decisions on Iraq. But a Democrat-controlled House could be expected to unleash a series of embarrassing congressional investigations into the origins and conduct of the war. The funding of the American presence in Iraq might also come under pressure. (...) Recriminations, investigations, budget cuts – all set against the background of public anger about a bloody and inconclusive conflict. It all sounds uncomfortably like the last throes of the Vietnam war. When the invasion of Iraq was in the offing, it was only the marginalised naysayers who brought up Vietnam. The dominant narrative offered by the Bush administration – and picked up by the war’s supporters – was the liberation of France in 1944. But Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi opposition leader – originally cast in the role of de Gaulle by his sponsors in the Pentagon – says that America is now transfixed by “the image of Saigon in 1975”. He adds: “I fear we’re moving inexorably towards that.”(...) If you read back through the history of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the parallels are not just suggestive – they are downright eerie. In both cases, America went to war on grounds that were later discredited.(...) The National Security Council spoke of turning Vietnam into the “cornerstone of the free world in south-east Asia”.(...) Allies seemed ungrateful and untrustworthy. The enemy fought harder than expected.(...) If America withdrew prematurely, Nixon predicted, there would be a bloodbath in Vietnam and a “collapse of confidence in American leadership, not only in America but around the world”.(...) To avoid these outcomes, the US tried a policy of “Vietnamisation”.(...) Today, the same policy is in place – except it is called “Iraqisation”.(...) The outcome of American defeat in Iraq could still be extremely grisly. The centre of the country could be dominated by jihadis; the south could be dominated by Iran. A civil war might rage – and, if that happened, regional powers might be sucked in. America’s enemies around the world would be emboldened. But it is also possible that America will get lucky – as it did after Vietnam.(...) America’s regional allies in the rest of Asia proved both more resilient and more willing to keep working with Washington than many feared. America’s strategic position around the world was ultimately unaffected.(...) Perhaps the ultimate lesson of Vietnam is that the US can afford to lose a small war – or even just lose interest in a small war – and still have the resilience to come through relatively unscathed. It is the people who are left behind in the abandoned war zone who end up paying the heaviest price. READ ALL

1 comment:

brotherbruz said...

I'll be reading this 'site.' Juan Cole's 'site' led me here. thanks.