It Vietnam Yet?
By Cindy Sheehan
28 October 2006
r u t h o u t
the mid-term elections looming dangerously close, and with public opinion
in opposition to George's failed foreign policies crossing the two-thirds
mark, the White House announced that they are going to present their
puppet government of Iraq with a "timetable" for US withdrawal.
This reminds me of Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to remove
US troops from Vietnam that he touted in his narrow electoral victory
over Hubert Humphrey in 1968.
The US plan for withdrawing
from Iraq would include disarming militias and training more Iraqi security
forces to take over security of the country - which sounds suspiciously
like Nixon's "Vietnamization" program. With the incipient
warmonger Kissinger (we were wondering why Iraq was such an unmitigated
disaster?) back in the Oval Office advising George, does this smell
like a fiasco to anyone else?
Unbelievably, even though
my own son was killed in Iraq, I am often told that the US deaths in
this young century's first conflict for profit are "negligible"
compared to Vietnam, or a "drop in the bucket." I have terrible
news for these reich-wing carnage confederates: Iraq is even deadlier
for US forces than Vietnam. In the first 3 years 7 months of the illegal
and immoral occupation of Iraq, 2,791 of our volunteer soldiers have
been tragically killed, and in the first 4 years of the illegal and
immoral conflict in Vietnam (which was never a "war" Constitutionally
declared by Congress either), 1,864 conscripts were killed.
The disparity in KIAs is
huge, and the implications of this make me nauseous. October is turning
into one of the grisliest months for soldiers and citizens in Iraq.
With Henry Kissinger visiting Georgie on a semi-regular basis, and with
the beat of the death-drums pounding for Iran, we can recall Nixon's
invasion of Cambodia and the resulting carnage in Southeast Asia and
the violent protests (i.e., Kent State) here at home. Apparently Nixon's
"secret plan" was increased slaughter, and I shudder to think
of George's plans for peace.
In 2000 dollars, the Congressional
hacks of the War Machine splurged 161 billions of our dollars in the
14 years that Vietnam dragged disastrously on. However, that is a paltry
sum. So far, in 2006 dollars, Congress has deliriously wasted almost
340 billions of dollars! The War Machine is busy laundering the blood
out of their money before they make a deposit in the National Bank of
Lost Hopes and Dreams.
The other similarities to
Vietnam prove the old adage that those who do not learn from history
are doomed to repeat it. In 1967, Robert McNamara, JFK's and LBJ's Secretary
of War and prime architect of the Vietnam mistake, left his post as
primary civilian death deliverer to become president of the World Bank.
Similarly, assistant Secretary of War and prime architect, cheerleader,
and liar of the Iraqi mistake Paul Wolfowitz left his post in the War
Department for the apparent next logical step of president of the World
Bank. Evidently, it is not only in BushCo that one's penchant for butchery
is rewarded handsomely!
Across the country, our
fellow Americans despair that "young people" aren't involved
in the anti-war movement, or there isn't as much activism as there was
during the Vietnam years. Historically, the anti-war movement is much
more active and relevant in this conflict than in the same time period
during Vietnam. There were enormous demonstrations before the invasion
of Iraq, because millions of people around the world did not want to
be witnesses to another bloody struggle and did not want killing waged
in their names. I, myself, have been involved in enormous demonstrations
just in the last year. As the news coverage on the ground in Iraq vastly
differs from the news coverage in Vietnam (I remember the daily dosage
of nightly news regarding Vietnam - with uncensored footage), so does
the coverage of the anti-war movement, which is terribly underreported.
from California wrote a letter to Rumbo to request that the Pentagon
remove embedded reporters from CNN out of Iraq because, surprisingly,
CNN showed some ghastly footage of Iraqi snipers targeting US troops.
No one wants to see death as it happens (unless it's fictional), and
increasingly, Americans are realizing that just because we are not shown
the shocking images does not mean that they are not happening. We are
beginning to come out of the media-induced coma and contradict BushCo's
perception that Iraq is a hotbed of happiness and democracy. No, we
the people are realizing that the criminals who put our young people
in an avoidable situation are the ones to blame, and the shocking images
will stop when our troops are brought home!
In Vietnam, we saw a Lieutenant
convicted and later pardonned for war crimes in the horrors of My Lai.
In Iraq, we have seen a few privates and specialists be similarly prosecuted
for such horrors as Abu Ghraib. After Vietnam, Nixon, Johnson, McNamara,
Kissinger, etc. should have been prosecuted for war crimes and crimes
against humanity. We all know what happened to each of them. Kissinger
won a Nobel Peace Prize, McNamara went on to the World Bank and the
presidents retired in infamy to their estates to a cozy lifetime with
their families. Did any of them have regrets, nightmares or feelings
of abject guilt? Probably not, but we do know for certain that none
of them went to prison. For this quagmire of Iraq, we the people must
make sure that BushCo cannot retire to their ranches (in Crawford or
Paraguay) or estates to live lives of relative ease. They must be prosecuted
and imprisoned for the murders that their policies and greed have caused.
Wars for profit will not end until those responsible for causing them
are forced to face their mistakes and pay for them.
During the '60s we were
told to be afraid, very afraid, of the Commun"ists." Now we
are being bombarded daily with convenient and politically expedient
warnings of the Terror"ists." In 1968, a small majority of
the electorate chose to believe Nixon and his "secret plan"
to exit Vietnam: a plan which killed almost 50 thousand more American
soldiers before he was done and untold millions of Vietnamese. Now,
we are supposed to believe known and proven liars about their "timetable"
for eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. How many more of our
human treasure (Iraqi, American, Muslim, Christian, Brown, Black and
White) will be wasted before our elected officials decide to pull the
plug on this one? Do not vote out of fear next month. Vote with your
courage for candidates who are loudly anti-war and pro-accountability.
In 1975, the gut-wrenching
debacle in Vietnam finally ended when Congress closed the treasury to
killing. There is a proposed bill, HR4232 (McGovern, D-Mass.) to cut
the funding for continued killing in Iraq. Pressure your Congressperson
to support this bill. It is the only way to bring our troops home, close
the permanent bases and put the War Machine out of business, temporarily.
Statistically, twice as
many Vietnam vets have committed suicide as were killed in actual combat.
We need to insure that some of the billions we are handing over to Halliburton,
Bechtel, Boeing, Exxon, etc. will hyper-fund the VA so this tragedy
is averted for Iraq vets. We need to make sure our vets' lives are as
comfortable as their civilian leaders' lives are uncomfortable.
So many people approach
me and say: "I never thought this would happen again after Vietnam."
I always ask them, "Why?" After the troops limped home from
Southeast Asia, badly wounded, physically and emotionally, the anti-war
movement went home, too. The anti-war movement cannot rest on its laurels
this time. We need to transform the anti-war movement into a radical
peace movement to make sure unending wars for greed never "happen
Is Iraq "Vietnam yet?"
Yes and no. Yes, that people are dying for no reason and the continued
death is justified by not "cutting and running." Yes, that
families are being destroyed and our treasury is not only being emptied,
but is trillions in the red. But also, no ...
... Iraq is worse than Vietnam.
Join Cindy and Gold Star
Families for Peace for their "sit-down" in front of the White
House, November 4th-9th.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Casey Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on
04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families
for Peace and author of Peace Mom: A Mother's Journey Through Heartache
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