Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam"

"Lady Ace 09" from HMM-165 and piloted by Berry, took off around 05:00 - had Martin refused to leave, the Marines had a reserve order to arrest him and carry him away to ensure his safety. 


The original battle-cry of this war is not in our name crowd from 10 years ago. Ira Chernus explores the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam. Shall we see a repeat of helicopter convoys leaving the US Embassy while abandoning thousands of south viet collaborators to torture and death?

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At 10:48 a.m., Martin relayed to Kissinger his desire to activate "the FREQUENT WIND" evacuation plan; Kissinger gave the order three minutes later. The American radio station began regular play of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," the signal for American personnel to move immediately to the evacuation points.


Under this plan, CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters were used to evacuate Americans and friendly Vietnamese to ships, including the Seventh Fleet, in the South China Sea. The main evacuation point was the DAO Compound at Tan Son Nhat; buses moved through the city picking up passengers and driving them out to the airport, with the first buses arriving at Tan Son Nhat shortly after noon. 

The first CH-53 landed at the DAO compound in the afternoon, and by the evening, 395 Americans and more than 4,000 Vietnamese had been evacuated. By 23:00 the U.S. Marines who were providing security were withdrawing and arranging the demolition of the DAO office, American equipment, files, and cash. Air America UH-1s also participated in the evacuation.
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At 03:45 on the morning of April 30, the refugee evacuation was halted. Ambassador Martin had been ordering that South Vietnamese be flown out with Americans up to that point. Kissinger and Ford quickly ordered Martin to evacuate only Americans from that point forward.
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Reluctantly, Martin announced that only Americans were to be flown out, due to worries that the North Vietnamese would soon take the city and the Ford administration's desire to announce the completion of the American evacuation. Ambassador Martin was ordered by President Ford to board the evacuation helicopter.
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The call sign of that helicopter was "Lady Ace 09", and the pilot carried direct orders from President Ford for Ambassador Martin to be on board. The pilot, Gerry Berry, had the orders written in grease-pencil on his kneepads. Ambassador Martin's wife, Dorothy, had already been evacuated by previous flights, and left behind her personal suitcase so a South Vietnamese woman might be able to squeeze on board with her.

"Lady Ace 09" from HMM-165 and piloted by Berry, took off around 05:00 - had Martin refused to leave, the Marines had a reserve order to arrest him and carry him away to ensure his safety. 

Decades later, when the U.S. government reestablished diplomatic relations with Vietnam, the former embassy was returned to the United States. The historic staircase that led to the rooftop helicopter pad was salvaged and is on permanent display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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When George W. Bush and the neocons launched their war in Iraq, critics coined the slogan, "'Iraq' is Arabic for 'Vietnam.'" The point was obvious: Another long quagmire of a war in an inhospitable foreign land would lead once again to nothing but death, suffering, and defeat for America.
That was back in 2003 and 2004, when the parallel was to the Vietnam war of 1965 - 1973.

Here's what JFK told interviewers in September, 1963, about South Vietnam under President Ngo Dinh Diem: "I don't think ... unless a greater effort is made by the  Government to win popular support that the war can be won out there."
Here's what Barack Obama told reporters on June 13, 2014: "Iraq’s leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together. ... and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq’s communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force."
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JFK: "In the final analysis it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it."
Obama: "We can’t do it for them. ...  The United States is not simply going to involve itself in a military action in the absence of a political plan by the Iraqis that gives us some assurance that they’re prepared to work together." 
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JFK balanced his calls for Diem to reform with what sounded like a promise that the South Vietnamese government would get U.S. aid no matter what it did or failed to do: "I don't agree with those who say we should withdraw.... This is a very important struggle even though it is far away. ... We also have to participate—we may not like it—in the defense of Asia."
Obama sounded a similar note: "Given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well. Iraq needs additional support to break the momentum of extremist groups and bolster the capabilities of Iraqi security forces. ...  They will have the support of the United States. ...  We have enormous interests there."
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Just as Kennedy publicly denied that he contemplated any significant troop buildup, Obama insisted, "We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq." Yet JFK continued pouring "advisors" into Vietnam throughout his presidency, just as Obama promised that there would be "selective actions by our military ...  We have redoubled our efforts to help build more capable counter-terrorism forces so that groups like ISIL can’t establish a safe haven. And we’ll continue that effort. "
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In his 1963 interviews JFK explained that Vietnam itself was not the crucial issue. It was more about the world's perception of America's power. Losing Vietnam would give "the impression that the wave of the future in southeast Asia was China and the Communists."
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Obama has not come out and said anything quite like this. Yet he must be keenly aware that his critics at home—and even some of his usual supporters—are urging him to make sure the world knows that the U.S. still runs the show.
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Just a week before Mosul fell to the ISIS/ISIL forces, liberal commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote that "the world today... rests on an order built by the United States that, since 1989, has not been challenged by any other major player." The big question, he said, is: "How to ensure that these conditions continue, even as new powers—such as China—rise and old ones—such as Russia—flex their muscles?" Now a new power is rising in the Middle East, and the question of preserving the world order is likely central to the conversation in the Oval Office.
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Indeed another usual supporter of Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times, says that neocon Robert Kagan's recent article "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire" "struck a nerve in the White House"—so much so that "the president even invited Mr. Kagan to lunch to compare world views." "Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival," the Times' headline declared.  
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So Obama is stuck in much the same dilemma that faced Kennedy: feeling compelled, both by global geopolitical and domestic political concerns, to bolster an ally, but knowing that all the military aid in the world won't help such a fatally flawed ally win the military victory that the U.S. government wants.
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How to resolve the dilemma? JFK insisted on keeping all his options open. Obama said: "I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces, and I’ll be reviewing those options in the days ahead."
JFK sent a seemingly endless round of envoys to Vietnam to study the situation and report back to him. Obama may well end up doing the same.
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"We want to make sure that we have good eyes on the situation there," the current president said. "We want to make sure that we’ve gathered all the intelligence that’s necessary so that if, in fact, I do direct and order any actions there, that they’re targeted, they’re precise and they’re going to have an effect." 
Have an effect? Looking back at the outcome in Vietnam, all one can say to Mr. Obama is, "Lotsa  luck, buddy."

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Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?291087
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regards