Cindy Sheehan: Is It Vietnam Yet?
Is It Vietnam Yet?
By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 23 October 2006
With 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.
Recently, Congressmembers 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 again!"
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 to