July 24, 2006
When it was apparent that the U.S. was not going to be able to annex Iraq without a fight, some people mentioned
the similarity of the occupation to that of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The administration laughed and said this was no Vietnam.
The casualty numbers were much lower and the U.S. military thought it would quickly douse the pesky resistance. It was only
a matter of time and the few hundred casualties that the U.S. suffered had been considered worth the incredible spoils the
administration saw ahead in Iraq.
Today, the U.S. death toll (considering civilian contractors who perform military tasks) is about 4,000. The
injuries are in the tens of thousands. Because of the vast improvements in body armor, the death rate is low. A couple of
years ago, we would be talking about close to 10,000 deaths. This is the good news.
The bad news, however, is that those injured in Iraq have suffered horrific damages to their bodies. When
a vehicle hits an IED, it may become damaged and those inside may not appear to be injured. However, the noise is so loud
that it scrambles the brain and many soldiers who survive such an attack eventually have serious brain damage. In addition,
thousands of soldiers have had legs and/or arms blown off. In other words, the injuries sustained in Iraq are far more serious
than those experienced during the Vietnam War.
Today, the word "Vietnam" is being used not only by left-wing writers, but by the U.S. general public and
members of Congress of both parties.
Recently, Amy Goodman of the show Democracy Now that is broadcast on New York radio station WBAI-FM, discussed
the 84th birthday of George McGovern, the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972. McGovern was given the largest
trouncing of any presidential candidate in history. He was ostracized by his colleagues. Only his anti-war supporters thought
of him in good terms.
No one should knock McGovern if he has a smirk on his face today. His what appeared to be an idiotic stance
on the Vietnam War now is accepted as reality.
Let’s go back and see what some people had to say about Vietnam during McGovern’s time and compare
the quotes to what is happening in Iraq today. The similarities are eerie.
RON KOVIC (Vietnam veteran/peace activist): If I died in Vietnam, I would die serving
a country that I loved. And I think that millions of young men who went to that war felt that way. And we believed them. We
trusted them. We had faith in what they said and we had to do the right thing. And we went to that war, believing in our hearts
that we were right and that our government would never lie to us.
U.S. military personnel in Iraq were told by the U.S. government that they were to bring freedom to Iraq and
stop terrorism at the same time. Many a veteran of the Iraqi campaign has returned and said that he/she believed the government.
They believed they were performing a courageous act by going to Iraq. And, all were told that serving in Iraq was to get back
at Saddam for being part of the destruction of 9-11. When they returned to the U.S., their comments were almost identical
to those of Kovic: they had been conned by government lies.
UN-NAMED U.S. VETERAN OF THE VIETNAM WAR: They took al your dignity and all your
sensitivity and just inexorably grind it out of you and strip it off of you, and they make you into a little zombie.
In both Desert Storm and the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the military personnel were told that Arabs were
sub-human. They were told that Arabs do not put the same value on life as Americans. Many returning veterans from Iraq have
stated they hated all Iraqis and committed horrendous acts. Then, when they returned, they realized what the un-named Vietnam
vet was talking about.
GORE VIDAL (Author): They used to say, "Contain China." Well, I said, "Alright,
if you want to contain China, why are you hitting the Vietnamese who have been China’s enemy for a thousand years.
The soldiers going to Iraq were told that Saddam and Bin-Laden were behind 9-11. It was no time for revenge.
Few, if any, knew that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden represented opposite ends of the political and religious spectrums.
Saddam was a secular leader and was vigilant about al-Qaida. If one al-Quida attempted to cross the border, Iraqi security
personnel immediately turned him back. Bin-Laden made many a public statement condemning Saddam, calling him "an infidel,"
"an atheist" and "a socialist." As Vidal stated, if you have an enemy, why don’t you go after the enemy, not an uninvolved
GLORIA STEINHAM (Author/women’s rights activist): And when the Vietnam War
started, I found myself really feeling estranged, because I thought not only should we not be there, but if we’re there,
we should be on the other side. It’s really alienating to feel that your country is at war, and you think the other
side has more merit.
Today, the Iraqi resistance has many supporters worldwide. They come from countries, such as Britain, Australia
and the U.S. who have supplied soldiers to fight in Iraq. In the cases of Vietnam and Iraq, the perception of justice transcends
JIM BOUTON (Baseball player [retired] and author): I was called a communist.
I was known as he communist on the team. On a baseball team, anybody who gets caught reading a book or having an opinion on
politics was a weirdo. So I was considered a weirdo.
In the world of sports in the U.S. today, God and country are depicted by all the professional teams. For
more than a century, the seventh-inning stretch was a ritual for the fans. They would get up, stretch and walk around between
the top and bottom half of the inning. For the past few years, the fans would be greeted by the song "Take Me Out To The Ball
Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. Today, "God Bless America" is played at this time. Some teams occasionally dress
in U.S. military-style camouflage at games.
Carlos Delgado was a player on the Toronto Blue Jays. During the playing of God Bless America in the seventh
inning, he refused to stand because he opposed the Iraq war. He was consistently pelted with objects thrown from the stands
and had death threats. So much for freedom of speech.
By the way, Bouton wrote a book called Ball Four. In it, he mentioned aspects of baseball that since
the beginning of the sport on a professional level had been left silent. Each year, the New York Yankees play an old-timers
game in which past stars take the field for a couple of innings and gain accolades from the crowd. Bouton is the only former
Yankee who has never been invited to a Yankees old-timers game.
DICK GREGORY (African American comedian and political activist): See, America always
had a nigger with us and would kick us, and we’d say "Oh. Boss, did I do something wrong? Excuse me, boss." Then you
went over there, thought it was a nigger. And he kicked at him, and that Vietnamese grabbed his foot. Now, he had never had
his foot grabbed before in the history of America. And he ran across some niggers that wasn’t really scared of him.
During Desert Storm, I saw a picture of an Iraqi waving his fist at the sky as a plane flew by. He was frustrated
that he could not strike back against the U.S. while his country was being pummeled by bombs and missiles. I read many accounts
of frustrated Iraqis saying they would like to engage the Americans on the ground under equal conditions.
Today, the U.S. is suffering many casualties because they have to face Iraqis on the ground. Despite being
out-gunned, the Iraqis are not afraid of the U.S. troops and have put up a formidable opposition to the occupation. These
niggers aren’t scared of the U.S. troops.
RICHARD NIXON (Former U.S. president): The greatest honor history can bestow is
the title of peacemaker. This honor now beckons America.
This statement is just as ludicrous as those made by George Bush about peace. Many times, Bush has spoken
of bringing peace to the Middle East.
FRANK MANKIEWICZ (Journalist): There are a lot of Americans who were not offended
by the idea that we’re at war and killing a lot of natives. There were still a lot of people who felt, "Yeah, that’s
a pretty good thing. Let’s go get those gooks.
Yesterday’s gooks are today’s Hadjis. The majority of the U.S. public has no problem watching
Iraqis being slaughtered. They are inferior to Americans and deserve their fate. The U.S. has been militarily with Iraq long
enough that the racist terms depicting Iraqis have evolved. Once the Iraqis were "camel jockeys." Then, the term "sand niggers"
was in vogue. Today, the Iraqis are Hadjis. The one thing I can credit the U.S. with is the number of derogatory terms its
citizens create in depicting foreigners. No country comes close.
The comic book cover shown with this article was created by Latuff of Brazil. In his country, there are actual
Iraqi resistance clubs that hold regular meetings and discuss the latest news of the resistance.