The question that dare not speak its name
Posted by aogThursday, 18 January 2007 at 14:10 TrackBack Ping URL

A little late to the party, but I wanted to comment on this statement by Pamela Hess

What we’re not asking is actually the central question. We’re getting distracted by the shiny political knife fight. What we need to be asking is, what happens if we lose? And no one will answer that question. If we lose, how are we going to mitigate the consequences of this?

It’s so much easier for us to cover this as a political horse race. It’s on the cover of “The New York Times” today, what this means for the ‘08 election. But we’re not asking the central national security question, because it seems that if as a reporter you do ask the national security question, all of a sudden you’re carrying Bush’s water. There are national security questions at stake, and we’re ignoring them and the country is getting screwed.

As noted, one is left aghast but not surprised that reporters would rather be openly derelict in their claimed duties than appear to favor the President of the United States.

But there are a number of other implications of this. The first is how unserious about the subject these reporters must believe Bush’s political opponents to be to think that just asking a serious question about national security favors Bush. From that follows another one, which is that at some level these reporters must realize the Bush has strong arguments and his opponents weaker ones, for the question itself to favor Bush. If they really thought the “anti-war” arguments were strong, wouldn’t asking such questions damage Bush, not favor him? It’s not people who think they have the answers that fear the question. So much for the fearless, “truth to power” objectivity of modern journalism.

As incisive as this is, I expect it to disppear quickly, because the people most embarrassed by it would be the people doing the reporting on it. Otherwise, I suspect Hess will be dismissed as a pro-military hawk1 based on this comment

Kurtz: Pam Hess, during Vietnam U.S. officials were often accused of distorting or even lying to the press to try to make it look like the war effort was going better than it was. When you were in Iraq did you feel like you were getting the straight story?

Hess: Certainly from the military I did. They have no interest in cooking the books, as it were, they—they understand that they were blamed for Vietnam and what happened, and they don’t want that blame again.

The military is embarrassd about lieing about events during the Vietnam war. The journalist class and their accessories in the MAL, in contrast, take pride in having subjected multiple nations in south east Asia to decades of Communist oppression.


1 Just like only military personel can support a war, but anyone can oppose it, being pro-military or a hawk makes you biased but being anti-military or a dove doesn’t.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Steven Wood Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 15:19
bq. The journalist class and their accessories in the MAL, in contrast, take pride in having subjected multiple nations in south east Asia to decades of Communist oppression. "The Journalist Class" ? Who are they ? Educated commies ? Preening liberals ? Anyone who thinks the vietnam war was a waste of time ? Anyone who considers that it is not justifiable to kill 3 million indo chinese to save them from the perils of communism ? Anyone who finds it disturbing that most americans have no idea how many people their government killed on the other side of the planet in a pointless war ? Take pride in that all you like buddy.
Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 15:38
The upper tier of journalists in the USA, who are remarkably similiar in political and social outlook. What I find interesting about your comment, though, is that it's apparently wrong to kill 3 million Indochinese to save them from Communism, but apparently fine to kill 3 million Indochinese to _impose_ Communism (and then kill *another* 2 million or so). The war occurred only because the North Vietnamese kept attacking the South. That makes those deaths the responsibility of the North Vietnamese government, which was willing to sacrifice those millions for the purposes of conquest and their own political power. An effort you apparently take pride in supporting. Are you proud that South Vietnam didn't end up spoiled and trashed like South Korea?
Jeff Guinn Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 16:55
Mr. Wood: Were the many thousands we killed during the Korean justifiable? Would you rather the entire Korean peninsula be North Korea, rather than just part?
cjm Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 22:20
yap, yap, yap...pfffsst
cjm Friday, 19 January 2007 at 09:38
poll just out showing one third of americans want the u.s. to lose in iraq. long past time for a house cleaning.
Michael Herdegen Friday, 19 January 2007 at 20:06
The Vietnam war was far from pointless, except to those who consider Communism a respectable form of government, and in developed nations such people are known by the scientific & medical term of "morons".
cjm Friday, 19 January 2007 at 21:01
communism is the preferred form of government for parasites. anyone actually capable of producing something of value, abhors it. that's why we could easily flush out all the leftists from this country, and do better than ever.
Steven Wood Monday, 22 January 2007 at 15:08
bq. The war occurred only because the North Vietnamese kept attacking the South hmmm - and of course that must involve the US, as they were the obvious candidate to decide the future of that region, and as you succinctly put it was "willing to sacrifice those millions for the purposes of conquest and their own political power". btw - I find "communism" an abhorrent form of government too, but where we clearly differ is that I don't think all communists, socialists, marxists, morons, scumbags call 'em what you like are evil human beings who believe in purging the political classes and waging aggressive wars of conquest to spread their political and social ideals, who must be stopped at all costs. In this respect "communism" is not the enemy, but any government who wishes to spend huge quantities of it's peoples money on its military so as it can impose its (not neccesarily its populations) will on those weaker than itself. Observe Hungary 1956 - for example, a clear demonstration of the evils of Communism only to the ignorant and historically naive. Useful as part of the narrative of modern US foreign policy where there has to be a clear and easily identifiable bad guy. To hell with history and the facts. Michael , bq. The Vietnam war was far from pointless, except to those who consider Communism... Only commumists were or are still of the opinion the Vietnam war was pointless. Yes indeedy. As for Korea, lets jsut be glad the soviets didn't commit the same man power to that war as the US did.
Annoying Old Guy Monday, 22 January 2007 at 16:50
Mr. Wood; bq. of course that must involve the US, as they were the obvious candidate to decide the future of that region, and as you succinctly put it was “willing to sacrifice those millions for the purposes of conquest and their own political power”. Wrong top to bottom. I think the root is your "of course", from which you elide "because of military obligations to an ally". Your formulation is the equivalent of forbidding the USA to engage military anywhere, even to defend an ally from aggression. If that's what you really mean, have the courage to state so forthrightly. The primary purpose of the intervention was to aid the South Vietnamese in deciding the fate of their own country. Indirectly it was to enable most of the rest of the region to do the same. Apparently you find this objectionable, and think it would be better both morally and strategically to have the Communists decide the future of the region. It is hard to see that as the more humanitarian view. From this we see that it was not the United State's decision to sacrifice all those people, but the aggressor state's decision. And finally, even were that not true, those lives would not have been sacrificed for the purposes of American conquest and its own political power. Could you enlighten me as to how you reconcile your vicious condemnations of what you claim is the USA's military aggression against Iraq with your support for the military aggression of the North Vietnamese? Otherwise, one might be tempted to think that it's not military aggression you object to, but the USA. bq. where we clearly differ is that I don’t think all communists, socialists, marxists, morons, scumbags call ‘em what you like are evil human beings who believe in purging the political classes and waging aggressive wars of conquest to spread their political and social ideals Then I suggest you read more history. However, even if you were correct, it would be irrelevant because we have the historical example of the actual Communists movements in south east Asia, which were thoroughly drenched in all of that. bq. Observe Hungary 1956 - for example, a clear demonstration of the evils of Communism only to the ignorant and historically naive. And for the learned and sophisticated, it was a demonstration of the _benefits_ of Communism? Have you, perchance, read any of the contemporaneous commentary of western Communist Parties about this event? Or is "To hell with history and facts" your motto? bq. Only commumists were or are still of the opinion the Vietnam war was pointless. Certainly the _Communists_ don't think the Vietnam War was pointless, particularly the North Vietnamese Communists. Further, Mr. Herdegen didn't write anything about the opinion of Communists, so I have no idea why you think this has anything to do with him. bq. As for Korea, lets jsut be glad the soviets didn’t commit the same man power to that war as the US did. Why? What, in your view, would have been the non-glad result? Also, speaking of historical facts, I presume you realize that the ChiComs committed far more man power to North Korea than the USA did to South Korea.
Michael Herdegen Monday, 22 January 2007 at 17:02
bq. I don’t think all communists [...] believe in purging the political classes and waging aggressive wars of conquest to spread their political and social ideals... A beautiful example of "ignorant and historically naive", not to mention "to hell with history and the facts". Of course not all Communists believe in, or wish to pursue, those things. However, that's irrelevant. What is relevant is that the leaders of the early Soviet Union and the PRC DID believe in such things. As you say, "any government who wishes to spend huge quantities of its peoples' money on its military so as it can impose its (not necessarily its population's) will on those weaker than itself" - what the average comrade wants is of no consequence, only what the leaders want. And although you meant that passage to be a criticism of democracies, it's ten times more true of Communist regimes than it is of democratic societies, since democracies have codified mechanisms for registering and acting on the will of the people. Between them, Stalin and Mao killed 60 MILLION of THEIR OWN PEOPLE while purging the political classes. You'll search in vain to find an example of anything remotely similar happening in democratic nations. bq. Useful as part of the narrative of modern US foreign policy where there has to be a clear and easily identifiable bad guy. You're ignoring the glaring and obvious fact that the former and unlamented Soviet Union was clearly and easily identifiable as a bad guy. "By their acts ye shall know them." We didn't have to pick a nation to gin up a rivalry with - they decided that we were their enemies. Remember Nikita Krushchev's ridiculous shoe banging incident at a 1960 UN conference? "We will bury you !!" LOL Oh yeah, those are clearly the words and actions of a guy who just wants peace, love, and understanding, a world leader who doesn't believe in "waging aggressive wars of conquest to spread [his] political and social ideals". bq. As for Korea, let's just be glad the [S]oviets didn’t commit the same manpower to that war as the US did. Are you under the impression that if the Soviets had made their contributions to the No. Korean effort overt, that we would have been less inclined to commit to the fight in Korea ?! We may well have nuked 'em, if they'd put in hundreds of thousands of ground troops. And are you unaware that the Chinese committed far more manpower to the war than did the U.S. & other allied nations ? They still lost.
Brit Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 05:40
Steven: Did you see this article in the Observer?
Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 04:00
Mr. Wood: Your approach, in order for any coherence to adhere, requires you to reject the Korean war, and its outcome. In other words, you must explain how the US involvement in that war, and the lives it cost, outweighs the alternative outcome: the entire Korean peninsula like the North, rather than just part of it. That was my question. bq. As for Korea, lets jsut be glad the soviets didn’t commit the same man power to that war as the US did. That isn't within a parsec of an answer.
Steven Wood Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 16:31
The simple fact that the south vietnamese regieme of Diem was considered worth backing because of a single issue (he was anti-communist) is evidence about the true nature of the US involvement. The south vietnamese didn't want this loony in charge of their country and since he was supported by the US why would they trust them? That liberation and containment of larger regional powers are two different pursuits is naturally lost on anyone who believes that the US came about global dominance by accident. A dictator who is anti communist is still a dictator. This (as Korea) was simply a lesson, as Iraq is also, to teach the enemy that the US is not afraid of a fight and that it will use its military to acheive its political ends. The US went into vietnam to stop the communists and to send a clear message, the logic being that if they didn't it would be a green light for the communist bloc (again, like all right wing enemies - simplistically perceived to be a monlolithic entity) to expand all over the world. In the end the US lost and the coummunists took over south vietnam, yet amazingly the world did not collapse. bq. The primary purpose of the intervention was to aid the South Vietnamese in deciding the fate of their own country. Well if you say so. Support for a unpopular dictator who would not allow the south vietnamese that very say in the fate of their country was presumably part of the same policy of letting them decide their fate ? As usual AOG, it is you who is wrong "top to bottom". The "ally" was simply an anti-communist, he was a murdering scumbag who's stay in power and communist sympathy in the south were both pronlonged and fostered respectively by US determination to stop communism. Your noble rhetoric is evidence of your own blindness in this case. This was a repeat of Korea where by the leadership of the south were also hardly the sort whom I would want to send my kids to take a bullet for. Whether the type of rule that north korea currently suffers from would have existed throughout the whole region for the time it has is once again on your part mr guin mere conjecture, stated as fact. The fact that the Soviet Union was communist suggests that a non communist state who had had 30 million of its citizens killed by armies composed of soldiers from the countries it defeated would have simply made peace and moved on. You can bet your boots the average russian hated the hungarians, how would the US react to a war on the scale of the eastern front on its door step ? It would be keen to execersie tight control over it's defeated foes of that we can be sure.
Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 20:23
Mr. Wood; bq. The simple fact that the south vietnamese regieme of Diem was considered worth backing because of a single issue (he was anti-communist) is evidence about the true nature of the US involvement. Opposing a Communist dictatorship is quite sufficient a reason for intervention. bq. The south vietnamese didn’t want this loony in charge of their country Do you have any evidence of that except that you would like it to be true? That the Viet Cong required massive support in both personel and material from the North for their entire existence is strong evidence against your assertion here. bq. A dictator who is anti communist is still a dictator. But a far less brutal and oppressive one, likely to provide a much better standard of living, and who is far more likely to transition to liberal democracy. Instead, we should support Communist dictators because ...? bq. communist bloc [...] simplistically perceived to be a monolithic entity Have you never heard of the "Comintern":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_International? The right wingers didn't _perceive_ the Communists as a monolith, the Communists _publically claimed_ to be one. Moreover, the North Vietnamese received massive amounts of aid from both the USSR and the ChiComs, while slavishly following their political line in international politics. How is that not a monolith? bq. In the end the US lost and the coummunists took over south vietnam, yet amazingly the world did not collapse And you call me callous of the millions who died as a result! bq. Support for a unpopular dictator who would not allow the south vietnamese that very say in the fate of their country was presumably part of the same policy of letting them decide their fate? You have not yet provided a shred of evidence that he was unpopular. Moreover, as we can see from the example in Korea and Taiwan, it was reasonable to expected the Diem government to, over time, evolve in to a liberal democracy. Communist sympathy in South Vietnam was sustained by massive aid from North Vietnam and the usual useful idiots among the intelligentsia, not reactions to Diem's policies. bq. Whether the type of rule that north korea currently suffers from would have existed throughout the whole region for the time it has is once again on your part mr guin mere conjecture, stated as fact. Mr. Guinn didn't claim "the whole region", but over South Korea. That seems extremely plausible to me, had North Korea won the war. Could you tell me what kind of government would rule South Korea today had it been conquered by North Korea? The style of leadership in South Korea during the war is strong support that South Vietnam, with similar leadship, would have in time become a prosperous liberal democracy as South Korea is today. You, apparently, think that's a bad result. Opposing liberal democracy and self determination for south east Asian countries is a viewpoint to which you are entitled, however. bq. The fact that the Soviet Union was communist suggests that a non communist state who had had 30 million of its citizens killed by armies composed of soldiers from the countries it defeated would have simply made peace and moved on. You can bet your boots the average russian hated the hungarians, how would the US react to a war on the scale of the eastern front on its door step? Sorry, I can't make any sense of this. I doubt the average Russian even thought about Hungarians, much less hated them. Further, the USSR killed more Russians than the Germans, so why wouldn't the Russian hate the nomenclatura more than the Hungarians?
Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 23:27
Mr. Wood: bq. The fact that the Soviet Union was communist suggests that a non communist state who had had 30 million of its citizens killed by armies composed of soldiers from the countries it defeated would have simply made peace and moved on Perhaps you could refresh my memory. When was that Ukrainian famine? bq. Whether the type of rule that north korea currently suffers from would have existed throughout the whole region for the time it has is once again on your part mr guin mere conjecture, stated as fact. No, not fact. Merely by far the most plausible alternative on offer. Put in a different way there is vanishingly little reason to expect that your preferences, if followed, would have made the entire peninsula, instead of merely half, the most hellish place on earth. If there is another more plausible outcome, then please, by all means, present it. Otherwise, you have rendered the linguistic equivalent of turning tail running way.
Michael Herdegen Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 09:09
That Communism didn't take over all of Asia, despite taking South Vietnam, can be construed to support BOTH cases: That the war was unnecessary, and that it was necessary. One could argue that Russia and China exhausted their appetite for throwing hundreds of billions of dollars, and millions of soldiers, into fights to gain tiny nations. By standing up to them, we wore 'em down. bq. Whether the type of rule that north korea currently suffers from would have existed throughout the whole region... Does "Tienaman Square" ring any bells? Remember the silence about SARS? In Cuba, "universal health care" means that Cubans can see a doctor any time that they like, but THEY CAN'T GET ANY DRUGS. They can't even buy them privately. There are drugs for sale, but not for Cuban pesos - in Cuba, the national currency is worthless when it comes to pharmaceuticals. In Cuba, Cubans can only get drugs by buying them with FOREIGN CURRENCIES. Everywhere that Communism still exists, we find oppression and pointless, needless suffering. The type of rule that No. Korea currently suffers under IS THE NORM for Communist nations.
cjm Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 09:33
mr wood fancies himself part of the vanguard, so communism is his preferred method of organising the proles. instead, he lives in a country where his kind of genius is unrecognized and unrewarded. sometimes he is even mocked, if you can believe such a crazy notion.
Jeff Guinn Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 15:35
Mr Wood: Apologies, that was supposed to be bq. When was that Ukrainian famine? Remember, Preview is your friend. p(admin). That makes it extra funny that you left an unclosed tag.
Steven Wood Friday, 26 January 2007 at 14:30
CJM - i don't know why I bother replying to you, but I will bq. mr wood fancies himself part of the vanguard, so communism is his preferred method of organising the proles. instead, he lives in a country where his kind of genius is unrecognized and unrewarded. sometimes he is even mocked, if you can believe such a crazy notion. I don't fancy myself as part of anything, certainly not a communist. Not sure what someone wh says, for example " the arabs and europeans are cut from the same foul cloth, and naturally find common cause in fighting against goodness." is part of though, insightful stuff indeed. You utter fool. AOG bq. Do you have any evidence of that except that you would like it to be true? [..] You have not yet provided a shred of evidence that he was unpopular I did suspect that when you said the North Vietnamese were guilty of "Naked Aggression" that you didn't know what you were on about, again. Go do a search about the guy, read about his authoritarian and nepotistic leadership and opposition to his rule. Of course, it's really you who would like it not to be true, because then things would be oh so much simpler. Take a look at this picture, you probably reconise it - a protest against Diem, a man tolerable for some reason in your books, whereas any communist state is not. bq. I doubt the average Russian even thought about Hungarians, much less hated them. Further, the USSR killed more Russians than the Germans, so why wouldn’t the Russian hate the nomenclatura more than the Hungarians? Well I doubt that little over a decade after the most destructive war in world history almost lead to the demise of your country, you wouldn't even think about the countries who were involved in that invasion. Tell me, do you think that the eastern front was Germany vs. Russia ? As for the 2nd sentance, according to that logic the USA has killed far more americans than Iran...etc..etc. Jeff, bq. Perhaps you could refresh my memory. errr - that would be world war two jeff.
Annoying Old Guy Friday, 26 January 2007 at 17:08
Mr. Wood; I still claim the North Vietnamese were the aggressors. The popularity or lack thereof for the South Vietnamese government is irrelevant to that point. Or are you arguing that if a regime is unpopular, then invading it does not count as aggression? As for the burning monk, I have never claimed that there was no opposition to the Diem regime. I have disputed your claims of the form "The south vietnamese didn’t want this loony in charge of their country" which requires at least a majority opposed. The fact that you expected me to recognize the picture shows how unusual it was, not how common. I suppose you'll be using "this":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Ritscher as clear evidence that President Bush is in fact an "unpopular dictator" and a "murdering scumbag". bq. Diem, a man tolerable for some reason in your books, whereas any communist state is not Diem never even got in the same ballpark in terms of oppression as any Communist regime. He tolerated far more protests against his regime than Ho Chi Minh ever did, not to mention slaugtering vastly fewer of his subjects. Could you provide me with a single metric, which you consider useful, on which Diem was less tolerable than the North Vietnamese regime? One in which the ruling dictator was not a "murdering scumbag"? You might note that Diem was liberal enough that we could know whether he was unpopular, as opposed to Communist dictators whose police states make it impossible to determine their actual popularity. Yet you use that as a point against the non-Communists. A rather inverted moral judgement, in my book. As it turns out, I am in fact reading about Diem, in "??Triumph Forsaken??":http://www.triumphforsaken.com/index.php, which paints a radically different picture than you do.
Jeff Guinn Friday, 26 January 2007 at 18:46
Mr. Wood: As AOG says, your reliance upon permitted protests to demonstrate lack of support in comparison to a regime where protestors would be summarily executed is astonishingly selective. As selective as your reading skills, it seems. In asserting that Russian hatred would be outwardly directed as a consequence of WWII, you seemed to be neglecting a whole lot of history. So when I said bq. Perhaps you could refresh my memory. When was Ukrainian famine? I was clearly, to the point of inescapability (which you managed, nonetheless), talking about something other than WWII, which you clearly either never knew, forgot about, or conveniently ignored. It is that sort of record which has made virtually every alternative imaginable preferable to Communist rule. BTW, I have been to several Communist countries, all of them awful. I doubt you could have first hand experience and still denigrate efforts to thwart communism. I heartily recommend you read The Road to Serfdom, one of the most prescient books ever written (it was first published, IIRC, in 1936). BTW -- you are still running from the issue of Korea. AOG: bq. That makes it extra funny that you left an unclosed tag. I hang my head in shame.
Steven Wood Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 07:13
AOG bq. Could you provide me with a single metric, which you consider useful, on which Diem was less tolerable than the North Vietnamese regime? One in which the ruling dictator was not a “murdering scumbag”? You might note that Diem was liberal enough that we could know whether he was unpopular, as opposed to Communist dictators whose police states make it impossible to determine their actual popularity. Spare me your anti communist diatriabe, this is 2007. I don't need convincing that communism is almost without exception "a bad thing" for the subject population. What I do need convinving about is whether the vietnam war was in the interest of either the US or vietnamese population. The question at issue here is whether the south vietnamese regieme was worth sending thousands of young americans to their deaths for, or whether the south vietnames supported or wanted the US to help them fight the "evil reds". These questions are now academic. This started with you stating that the US was basically involved on humanitarian grounds, as it wanted to see liberty in south vietnam. By seeking to extract a crude comparison of number of bodies you suggest that the dicatorship in south vietnam was worthy of US support. Popular opinion in the US said otherwise, the US could not win the war in the time they had, get over it. You would do well to also consider that when humanitarian intervention was required in that region, the US were not interested and left a communist government to remove the Khmer Rouge. Why would they do this ? bq. As AOG says, your reliance upon permitted protests to demonstrate lack of support in comparison to a regime where protestors would be summarily executed is astonishingly selective. The protests weren't permitted at all and were infact often considered part of an insurgency. Nor you were permitted to be a communist of have "symapthies" with the comunnists, because guess what happened - yip summary execution. The fact that you consider this man "liberal" because he allowed enough opposition to himself to allow himself to be removed by a coup, suggests that many ex communist dictators whom this happened to are also "liberals". In summary the only thing that is astonishing is your line that dictators are OK so long as they are not communist dicators. Korea and the vietnam and iraq wars were quite different, multilateralism was key. What i find particulary annoying is the brave rhetoric that you bleat out about "thwarting" communism, the vietnam war was hugely unpopular, your line of argument clearly implies ithat all who were opposed to it were stupid, ill informed, historically naive fools. Why would anyone after all object to being sent half way round the world to drop nalpalm on villages of peasants ?
Jeff Guinn Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 10:22
Mr. Wood: bq. The question at issue here is whether the south vietnamese regieme was worth sending thousands of young americans to their deaths for, or whether the south vietnames supported or wanted the US to help them fight the “evil reds”. Now, replace Vietnam with Korea, and ask that same question. The South Korean regime in the 50s was a moderately loathsome thing, and could look good only in comparison to the alternative. As AOG pointed out above, the repeated pattern for right wing dictatorships is to evolve into pretty reasonable governments. The pattern for communist dictatorships is savagery, destitution, and eventual collapse (China and Vietnam may yet avoid the last). That is why, although it shouldn't need repeating, why right wing dictators are "OK", and communist dictators are not. The butchers bill attending the latter far exceeds anything the former has ever leavied. History is clear: the Korean war created a far better outcome than the alternative (and your notion that multilateralism was key is just nonsense). The proper question is whether, had the US not succumbed to completely mistaken defeatism following the Tet Offensive, or had we not abandoned the South Vietnamese in the 70s, whether the outcome would have been far better. China and Vietnam may avoid collapse, but they went through extended, unnecessary, periods of communist hell to get to where South Korea has been for at least 30 years. Does that make those against the war stupid? To the extent that many were enamored of Castro, Guevera, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao, absolutely. They were stupid, ill informed and historically foolish beyond belief. Why would anyone object to "dropping napalm on peasants"? Why shouldn't they object to the Communist aggression that created the problem in the first place?
Michael Herdegen Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 11:32
bq. The question at issue here is whether the south vietnamese regieme was worth sending thousands of young americans to their deaths... Or perhaps the question is whether it was worth 60,000 American deaths to halt the advance of Communism. As it happens, you've already answered that question: "I don’t need convincing that communism is almost without exception 'a bad thing' for the subject population." But I do wonder... Where do you believe that an exception exists, a Communist government that's a good thing for the subject population? (And note well the subtext of what you've written - in a Communist nation, the population is "subjected" to the government. Quite true, and quite telling).
Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 15:30
Mr. Wood; bq. I don’t need convincing that communism is almost without exception “a bad thing” for the subject population On the contrary, I think you do. Or you wouldn't put "evil reds" in quote marks. Or ask questions like "except for protecting it from an oppressive and brutal Communist government how was intervening in South Vietnam humanitarian or in the interests of the South Vietnamese?". bq. his started with you stating that the US was basically involved on humanitarian grounds, as it wanted to see liberty in south vietnam No, I stated it was humanitarian _in effect_. That was also _one_ of the motivations for the policy, but hardly the only one or even the only major one. One of the themes I have been working on here is that foreign policy actions can be both humanitarian *and* in the national interests of the USA. Specifically, evidence of one is not evidence against the other. This seems difficult for you to grasp, but it is an essential part of my gestalt. bq. By seeking to extract a crude comparison of number of bodies you suggest that the dicatorship in south vietnam was worthy of US support. Of course it's a crude measure, which is why I offered to let you pick a different one. An offer you declined. But what I actually argued is that the North Vietnamese regime was worthy of American opposition. If you go back and read the original post, it was about how the MAL is _proud_ of turning South Vietnam over to the North Vietnamese Communists. bq. You would do well to also consider that when humanitarian intervention was required in that region, the US were not interested and left a communist government to remove the Khmer Rouge. Why would they do this ? Precisely because of the success of the MAL and its fellow travelers in turning over South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese Communists by putting the idea of anti-Communism in to disrepute. One sees a very similar situation with regard to Iraq and Darfur. bq. your line of argument clearly implies ithat all who were opposed to it were stupid, ill informed, historically naive fools. No, there is also the subset that actively wanted a Communist victory, who knew exactly what the result would be and thought it was a good thing. Those are the same people who to this day, despite the facts of history, _still_ think it was a good thing. Look at your own rhetoric -- despite this entire discussion, despite your claim that you see Communism as terrible, despite the carnage in south east Asia as a result of the Norht Vietnamese victory, you *still* think of the intervention in Vietnam as "being sent half way round the world to drop nalpalm on villages of peasants". I leave it to you to properly label that level of obtuseness.
Steven Wood Monday, 29 January 2007 at 14:28
What you all fail to grasp is that the vietnamese and the Iraqis did not want and do not want the US to "liberate" them from their countrymen. Why is this so difficult ? As I've stated several times, the US has no mandate, this is simply imperialism by another name. bq. you still think of the intervention in Vietnam as “being sent half way round the world to drop nalpalm on villages of peasants” AOG - most people think this. You can blame the intellectual left, communist sympathisers at home who despite living in the US apparantly supported communism, but the fact is you and your chums are out on a limb. As usual you fail to admit to any clouding of the picture you paint of the US rushing to the aid of the south vietnamese in the face of what you falsely claimed was "naked aggression". Contrary to what you might believe communist countries are not "The most hellish" places on earth, such accolades if thats what they can be called would fall to any number of sub saharan countries, this inconvience doesn't fit with your humatirian rhetoric though. 3 million vietnamese were killed by the war, what hope was there of vietnam ever being unified and peaceful while one half have to get over being napalmed. bq. Why shouldn’t they object to the Communist aggression that created the problem in the first place? You best ask them that yourself, but they didn't seem too bothered about it until they were drafted. bq. As AOG pointed out above, the repeated pattern for right wing dictatorships is to evolve into pretty reasonable governments. Like Hitler, Saddam Hussein ? Follow your own logic through, and the US should be actively using its military to remove brutal corrupt dictatorships all over africa, unless you would suggest that conditions in these countries are superior to Cuba for example. Or perhaps they like Iraq, are not interested in US military help.
Michael Herdegen Monday, 29 January 2007 at 18:00
bq. Contrary to what you might believe communist countries are not “The most hellish” places on earth... Yeah ? Then why did most of 'em have to build walls, staffed with armed guards, to keep their populations from fleeing ? Why, even now, do people risk death to leave Cuba ? You seem very conflicted. You seem to recognize that you have to agree that Communism isn't great, to maintain any credibility, but you're still emotionally compelled to defend Communism. Everyone else has given up on it, including Vietnam and China, so why haven't you ?
Jeff Guinn Monday, 29 January 2007 at 18:14
Mr. Wood: bq. What you all fail to grasp is that the vietnamese and the Iraqis did not want and do not want the US to “liberate” them from their countrymen. Here, with respect to Iraq, at least, you are simply wrong. In the International Herald Tribune, Jan 29 (Tokyo), in a long story criticizing the US in Iraq, there is this quote: "For those eager to write off Iraq as lost, on fact bears remembering. A great many Shiites and Kurds, who together make up 80% of the population, will tell you that in spite of all the mistakes the Americans have made here, the single act of removing Saddam was worth it." Now, with respect to Vietnam. How many boat people were there before the Communist takeover of South Vietnam? I'm not looking for an exact number; an approximate one will do. Oh, by the way, in Vietnam, the war was to prevent being conquered, not to liberate. bq. Contrary to what you might believe communist countries are not “The most hellish” places on earth, such accolades if thats what they can be called would fall to any number of sub saharan countries, this inconvience doesn’t fit with your humatirian rhetoric though. Once again, you are factually wide of the mark. North Korea is absolutely the most hellish, repressive, reprived country on the planet. Having visited the Soviet Union, I can tell you that words simply are incapable of conveying the pervading awfulness of the place -- and I went to the "nice" places. Cuba is a study in self inflicted deprivation. There simply is no excuse for anyone to consider communism anything other than a curse, and attempting to excuse it buy comparison to Africa is moral chicanery. bq. Like Hitler, Saddam Hussein ? Do me a favor, and read what I write as if words, syntax and context convey meaning. First, "pattern" does not mean "rule." Second, Saddam Hussein took his entire playbook from Stalin. And finally, tot up the entire list -- instead of cherry picking a couple -- of right wing dictatorships, and see if you can perceive a pattern in their evolution. bq. ... this is simply imperialism by another name. Would you mind telling me what the US definition of victory is? Not your gauge of its likelihood, only Pres Bush would consider complete victory. bq. Follow your own logic through, and the US should be actively using its military to remove brutal corrupt dictatorships all over africa ... I am (as is AOG) following the logic through. You simply, and inexplicably, fail to take it on board, despite AOG repeating it at least twice in this thread. Let me repeat it: [Foreign] policy actions can be both humanitarian and in the national interests of the USA. Specifically, evidence of one is not evidence against the other.
Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 09:19
Mr. Wood; bq. What you all fail to grasp is that the vietnamese and the Iraqis did not want and do not want the US to “liberate” them from their countrymen. Why is this so difficult ? As I’ve stated several times, the US has no mandate, this is simply imperialism by another name. The government of South Vietnam asked for USA aid, plus (as Mr. Guinn notes), it wasn't a liberation but a defense. I note that North Vietnam had no "mandate" to subvert and invade the South, but you apparently have no objection when it's not the USA. As for Iraq, the USA had been at war with Iraq since 1990 -- are you claiming that invading an enemy nation during war is "simply imperialism"? bq. AOG - most people think this. Ah, you've reached the final refuge -- "you're right, but that's not the conventional wisdom". That's fine, I strive to be correct, not popular. bq. the face of what you falsely claimed was “naked aggression” And what label would you use for the actions of North Vietnam during the Vietnam war? The active subversion, sponsorship of a civil war, and outright armored invasion? bq. Like [rightwing governments such as] Hitler, Saddam Hussein? Well, both of those were Socialists, not right wingers. Hitler lead the National *Socialist* Party, and Saddam Hussein the Ba'ath, the Arab *Socialist* Party. Both examples of the wonderful political gifts left to us by Europe and its political theorists.
Steven Wood Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 16:10
I have to laugh. bq. Well, both of those were Socialists, not right wingers. Hitler lead the National Socialist Party, and Saddam Hussein the Ba’ath, the Arab Socialist Party. Both examples of the wonderful political gifts left to us by Europe and its political theorists. I assume that this is an attempt at humour on your part. Hitler was not "right wing" because he was not liberal in his economic policies. Abolotion of slavery and democracy are, to name but two, political gifts from europe, can you think of one political "gift" to the world from the USA that didn't come from Europe ? I am interested also in your change of tact. The north vietnamese were "subeverting" the south now, and your implicit statement that north and south vietnam are not really part of one country. Anyway you look at it political subversion is not the same as "naked aggression". Also bq. As for Iraq, the USA had been at war with Iraq since 1990 — are you claiming that invading an enemy nation during war is “simply imperialism”? This is one of your most stupid statements to date and that's saying something it really is. Taking this ridiculous definition, one can safely say that so long as you declare war before invading the country you wish to control, no one can say your actions are motivated by imperial ambition. Lets cut to the chase here, you claim that US foreign policy is not motiviated purely by humanitarianism, but have spent the most part of my time on this blog trying to convince me of the total evil of any enemy the US has ever had. Taken from this standpoint the only interest the US would have in containig rival empires would be if those empires represented a humanitarian threat. What other interests does the US have ? As De Gaulle put it a "will to power, cloaking itself in idealism." This is a quote from Malcolm Browne about the humanitarian intervention in vietnam, witnessed first hand : bq. In the South, huge sectors of the nation have been declared "free bombing zones," in which anything that moves is a legitimate target. Tens of thousands of tons of bombs, rockets, napalm and cannon fire are poured into these vast areas each week. If only by the laws of chance, bloodshed is believed to be heavy in these raids. The reason the vietnam war was not won, was not because of smug leftist intellectuals but because the US could not win a fight "with considerable armed force but little political power, [to] contain an adversary who has enormous political force but only modest military power." The subversion of which you speak must have been practically hypnosis. Or to quote another high ranking sout vietnese official of the time regarding the Saigon govt "Frankly, we are not strong enough now to compete with the Communists on a purely political basis. They are organized and disciplined. The non-Communist nationalists are not—we do not have any large, well-organized political parties and we do not yet have unity. We cannot leave the Vietcong in existence." bq. That’s fine, I strive to be correct, not popular. How about neither... Now, to state that one article in the International Herald Tribune as complete proof that most Iraqis wanted the US to invade their country and topple saddam is, even by your standards mr guinn, plain daft. Lets not get into this one again, suffice to say that the poor old kurds weren't subject to US help when the turks slaughter them, but when saddam does it, that's beyond the pale. Some reports conclude that 90% of Iraqis think Iraq was better off before the US invasion, presumably they, like you in supporting it all, made a big mistake.
Tom C. Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 18:04
Mr Wood- Have you gotten to Poli Sci 301 yet? It's a gas!
Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 19:39
Mr. Wood; I label Hitler and Hussein "Socialists" because they called themselves that, and based their policies on Socialist thought. They named their parties "Socialist" for this same reason. What, in your view, makes them "right wing"? bq. can you think of one political “gift” to the world from the USA that didn’t come from Europe # A written Constitution. # A tri-partite liberal democracy. # A nation founded on an ideology, not blood and soil. # The concept of admitting new regions as full and equal entities (e.g., states other than the 13 colonies). # The concept that government is legitimated by the consent of the governed. bq. I am interested also in your change of tact. The north vietnamese were “subeverting” the south now, and your implicit statement that north and south vietnam are not really part of one country. Anyway you look at it political subversion is not the same as “naked aggression”. No change of tact. In the "post you quote from":#comment_11472, I wrote "The active subversion, sponsorship of a civil war, and *outright armored invasion*". Selective quoting really doesn't work when the original comment is on the same page. Further, I have also "mentioned the Viet Cong":#comment_11398 before in this very thread, which is what I mean by "subversion". I presumed you knew who the Viet Cong were and who sponsored them, my fault. bq. This is one of your most stupid statements to date and that’s saying something it really is. It's good to know that I'm making progress. bq. Taking this ridiculous definition, one can safely say that so long as you declare war before invading the country you wish to control, no one can say your actions are motivated by imperial ambition. Does the year 1990 remind you of nothing with regard to Iraq? Some other event, perhaps, that was a reason for the USA to declare war on Iraq? bq. Lets cut to the chase here, you claim that US foreign policy is not motiviated purely by humanitarianism, but have spent the most part of my time on this blog trying to convince me of the total evil of any enemy the US has ever had. Not at all. I have discussed a few of them, but hardly all of them (I don't recall discussing any that predate 1940, actually). Some of them were evil, but I have never claimed "total evil". bq. The reason the vietnam war was not won, was not because of smug leftist intellectuals but because the US could not win a fight “with considerable armed force but little political power, [to] contain an adversary who has enormous political force but only modest military power.” The final invasion of South Vietnam was fronted by the largest tank force since WWII. Hardly "modest military" power. North Vietnam was also backed directly by a super power (USSR) and another major military power (China).
Steven Wood Thursday, 01 February 2007 at 14:53
bq. The final invasion of South Vietnam was fronted by the largest tank force since WWII. Hardly “modest military” power" These stupid US military spokesmen. What would they know ? bq. Does the year 1990 remind you of nothing with regard to Iraq? Some other event, perhaps, that was a reason for the USA to declare war on Iraq? Ah this old chestnut. Sticking up for Kuwait, poor guys. A just cause. Naturally, the US was the obvious country to defend Kuwait. Also - regarding vietnam, tell me, when did the North launch an "outright" military invasion of the south ? Was that before or after the US bombed them ? [What makes Hitler] right wing you ask ? I'll spare anyone still reading this the obvious answers and invite you to ponder that the word "democratic" in the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea, means that country must be run by a democratic party. As i've said many times on your site before, do me a favour.
* A written Constitution. * A tri-partite liberal democracy. * A nation founded on an ideology, not blood and soil. * The concept of admitting new regions as full and equal entities (e.g., states other than the 13 colonies). * The concept that government is legitimated by the consent of the governed.
Very good, whatever happened to that tri-partite deomcracy eh ? Face it, despite your attempts to belitte Europe, it is the source of many greater "gifts" to humanity than the US...including the US.
Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 01 February 2007 at 15:31
Mr. Wood; With regard to Kuwait and Iraq, if responding to the invasion of an allied state is not sufficient to legitimize a military response, you clearly consider *any* use of military force by the USA to be illegitimate, but such use by other states (such as Iraq in 1990) is always legitimate. Your attempt to disguise this with sarcasm is ineffectual. bq. when did the North launch an “outright” military invasion of the south? Looks like the North began sending armed troops in to South Vietnam by 1957, many years before any bombings by the USA in North Vietnam. bq. I’ll spare anyone still reading this the obvious answers Translation -- "I have no idea, but I am willing to bluff and then throw in a distraction". bq. Very good, whatever happened to that tri-partite deomcracy eh? Still there, last I checked. bq. despite your attempts to belitte Europe, it is the source of many greater “gifts” to humanity than the US Actually, Britian is, it being the source of every European benefit you mentioned, and the source of the USA as well. The rest of Europe is pretty much a waste, if not an outright loss. One need only look at the fate of former colonies. My real point was that much of what's wrong on the planet can be sourced to places other than the USA.
Michael Herdegen Thursday, 01 February 2007 at 17:09
bq. Some reports conclude that 90% of Iraqis think Iraq was better off before the US invasion, presumably they, like you in supporting it all, made a big mistake. And some conclude that 60% of Iraqis think that Iraq is better off with Saddam gone, despite the current difficulties. It's foolish to pretend that a study that finds that 90% of Iraqis want Saddam back is credible. bq. [D]espite your attempts to belittle Europe, it is the source of many greater “gifts” to humanity than the US... Well, let's see... In no particular order, America gave the world the ice cream cone, jazz, electrical utilities, the light bulb, the phonograph, the motion picture, television, airplanes, arguably the automobile, computers, transistors, personal computers, the internet, the polio vaccine, the cure for malaria, the Panama Canal, the concept of using petroleum for heating & lighting, humans on the Moon, robotic probes exploring every planet in the solar system, the Hubble space telescope and before that the Palomar Observatory of the 30s, a wonder of the world at the time, communication satellites, air brakes... Essentially, America invented the modern age. What has Europe done in the 20^th^ century, except to plunge the world into the two greatest conflicts and bloodbaths of that age?
Michael Herdegen Thursday, 01 February 2007 at 17:31
In fact, in looking at the poll that you reference, we find that 82% of those questioned were from Baghdad, with 9% each from Anbar and Najaf. Can you think of anything that happened recently in Najaf that might influence their perceptions of the American operations ? But this is typical of the anti-war crowd. A survey of people in Baghdad becomes "all Iraqis", which means that they're either being purposefully disingenuous, or are simply ignorant of polling science, or at least know nothing about the poll that they're citing. Stupid or lying, which is it, Mr. Wood ?
Tom C. Thursday, 01 February 2007 at 18:29
Michael- I've been following this thread for a couple of days and Mr Wood has provided quite the amusing spectacle. Concerning the question of 'stupid or lying', are they really mutually exclusive traits? In fact, when it comes to the 'reactionary', left-wing world view, prevarication and self-delusion are pre-requisites. It's hardly fair to force simple, historical reality to compete with the banality of the left.
Michael Herdegen Friday, 02 February 2007 at 12:11
Yeah, Tom, that's been my experience, but I just can't seem to help myself from offering up rational reasons why a person might want to re-think their position, despite the fact that it very rarely penetrates the delusion shield. I don't mind an opposing argument based giving the variables different weights or meanings, but simply ignoring some variables is unnacceptable to me. For instance, it's fine for Mr. Wood to conclude that the Vietnam war wasn't worth it for America, but to refuse to accept that No. Vietnam invaded So. Vietnam, and that it was perfectly legit for the U.S. to enter the war on the side of the South, is spinning off into fantasy land.
cjm Friday, 02 February 2007 at 14:03
this thread has left the boy wood's world view in the same condition as a doberman's chew toy. it's a shame he didn't survive the intervention, but it was still worth trying. it was fun reading everyone but boy wood's remarks, effectively reducing him to a shadow; so appropos given that both lack depth.
Steven Wood Friday, 02 February 2007 at 16:10
bq. For instance, it’s fine for Mr. Wood to conclude that the Vietnam war wasn’t worth it for America, but to refuse to accept that No. Vietnam invaded So. Vietnam, and that it was perfectly legit for the U.S. to enter the war on the side of the South, is spinning off into fantasy land. The south vietnmese didn't want the americans to invade, the south vietnam regieme wanted the americans to destroy the viet cong, as I pointed out, which has been totally ignored, even the US generals admitted at the time that their problem was that they were fighting an enemy who had far greater political influence. In this respect, it was not legitamte. But what would they know, presumably they like me must be "stupid". Kuwait was only an ally of the US 'cos it has lots of oil, nothing about the country from its dominant religion to its governmental style identifies it as a natural ally of the US. A will to power cloaked in idealism. bq. The rest of Europe is pretty much a waste, if not an outright loss. You truly are a knob AOG, you accuse me of being anti-american, but to come out with such sentiments you prove your true hatred and ignorance. Anyway, I heard the Television was invented by a scot and that computers were pretty much invented by alan turing. No wonder the rest of the world hates your country. Also before accusing me of historical ignorance I'm sure you would piss off half your country by claiming that britain was its source, do half of them not speak spanish these days ? What about all the Irish, do they consider themselves brits now too ? Or do they not count, like the blacks didn't used to either. Regarding hitler and his position on the political spectrum, here are a few ideas typically associated with the far right, as a game, see how many you think fit hitler. Extreme nationalism, the idea of a "pure" ideal of the nation, often defined on racial or "blood" grounds. Advocacy for the expansion or restructuring of existing state borders to achieve this ideal nation, often to the point of embracing expansionary war, racialism, jingoism and imperialism, anti-communism. According to your definition, anyone who disagrees with the foreign policy of the USA is a leftie, or a communist, this is pretty much all I've gleaned from reading your output. Michael, bq. But this is typical of the anti-war crowd... If you remember I was told that one article in one paper was proof of the fact that most iraqis supported the US invasion, something you would all dearly love to believe. I didn't say I believed that 90% of Iraqis thought the invasion was a bad idea, I said that some polls said this. Obviously this was too subtle, and I should have said that your paltry evidence is so far from proving your point of view that it is utterly meaningless, and to demostrate it here is an extreme counter example. But then, I am stupid. Still, at least now I will rest easy knowing that Europe is mostly a "waste", and that true civilisation involves scratching your sun burned neck and eating fast food. Thank you all.
Michael Herdegen Friday, 02 February 2007 at 17:30
bq. I should have said that your paltry evidence is so far from proving your point of view that it is utterly meaningless, and to demostrate it here is an extreme counter example. Exactly so. That is a valid point. It's not that you were too subtle, for what you actually wrote doesn't contain any of the concepts that you now claim that you were attempting to convey. bq. I will rest easy knowing that [...] true civilisation involves scratching your sun burned neck and eating fast food. A sentence that you've typed on a personal computer, which was invented in America, and posted on the Internet, which was constructed by America. The irony fairly shrieks.
Annoying Old Guy Friday, 02 February 2007 at 18:24
Mr. Herdegen; True, but it's not as amusing as using "a Scot" and "Alan M. Turing" as counter-examples to "all the good gifts to humanity that came out of Europe came from Britian". Going after the change of point from "political gift to the world" to "who immigrated to your country" isn't worth the effort. Mr. Wood; bq. The south vietnmese didn’t want the americans to invade Invade what? The Americans didn't invade any part of Vietnam. We *should* have invaded the North -- many fewer people would have died and the Vietnamese would be far better off today. bq. According to your definition, anyone who disagrees with the foreign policy of the USA is a leftie, or a communist No. What I spend my time arguing is that it's anti-American to object to American foreign policy *without* applying the same reason for objection to other nation's foreign policy. The entire Vietnam discussion is a case in point, where the USA is guilty of "imperialism" and "will to power", while North Vietnam is not, even though it was North Vietnam that subverted and invaded another country. The point is that you don't object to imperialism, you object to *American* imperialism. bq. Regarding hitler and his position on the political spectrum That's actually an interesting subject, much broader than your initial "right wing" labeling. Almost all of your political features are simply different ways of describing "blood and soil nationalism". That is generally a hallmark of the Right, as Socialism tends to be more internationlist[2]. On the other hand, Hitler's domestic policies were primarily Socialist -- lots of nationalization, central planning, cult of personality, etc. One used to be able to refer to this sort of thing as "Fascism", but that word has been ruined by its excessive use as a smear by the modern Left.
fn2. Although, "wasn't it you who was arguing":http://blog.thought-mesh.net/archives/2007/01/the_question_that_dare_n.php#comment_11395 for the non-monolithic, nationalist nature of Communism a bit earlier?
Steven Wood Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 07:57
bq. True, but it’s not as amusing as using “a Scot” and “Alan M. Turing” as counter-examples to “all the good gifts to humanity that came out of Europe came from Britian. Are you serious ? I didn't realise that was what you were saying. What about music (notation), the jet engine, democracy, philosophy, mathematics, cartography ? were these all curses forced onto the world by the moronic Europeans ? What about engineering, roads, aquaducts, sanitation etc etc. Of course these are all meaningless contributions to humantity and pale into insignificance when compared to the "ice cream cone." You may also be interested to know that the world wide web, HTML and the idea of a web browser were not invented in the USA, but by another brit. Now we learn the "internet" was invented by the USA as well, do you mean all the protocols applications, concepts, hardware and software that transmit packets of data around the world ? That was all the USA was it ? The only thing that shrieks is your ignorance and misplaced self satisfaction. bq. The entire Vietnam But you just said such a thing doesn't exist. According to you Vietnam is naturally two separate countries. And what the hell do you mean it "subverted" the south ?
Tom C. Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 09:30
Steven- Substitute 'class' for 'race' in your comparison and tell me what you've got aside from a purely arbitrary distinction. A more interesting topic is 'authoritarian vs totalitarian' and the inherent expansionary aggressiveness of each type of state. Is there a differnce in your mind as you peruse the political continuum?
Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 10:43
Mr. Wood; bq. Are you serious ? Not really.
The entire Vietnam
But you just said such a thing doesn’t exist.
When you've been reduced to Dowdifying quotes in the same comment string, I think we can rate you as out of even the ghost of an argument. Next you'll be telling me that any one who uses the phrase "North America" means that Mexico and Canada are naturally parts of the USA. It doesn't even bear thinking about what terrible imperialists the users of the phrase "the Americas" are. "Subverting" → sending troops and supplies in South Vietnam to overthrow the government. You have complained about what an evil thing this was when alledgedly done by the USA in 1970s Chile and 1950s Iran, why is the even stronger action of North Vietnam not worse? You have illustrated the point of my last comment once again.
Steven Wood Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 14:07
AOG, Regarding your comparison of Vietnam to a continent, once again I can only ask you to do me a favour, and perhaps yourself. So vietnam and "the americas" are comparable entities in what respect ? Their size ? Their population ? The history of the nations within it ? Nonsense, as per usual, a ridiculous attempt to blur the issue. bq. why is the even stronger action of North Vietnam not worse? You have illustrated the point of my last comment once again. The Viet Minh were a nationalist movement who's aim it was to unite the country of vietnam, a country which was partitioned by an imperialist power, who left behind an unpopular dictator. A movement which due to the imperial hold and unpopular leadership in the south, held, as the US themselves have admitted many times far more poiltical influence than they did. How does this compare with a super power attacking a country on the other side of the world in an attempt to contain larger regional powers ? Perhaps you can now explain how a Vietnamese movement acting to unify the country of Vietnam after only half of it had been granted independance, is the same thing as the CIA staging a coup to remove the leader of a country on the other side of the world from itself. I'm all ears. bq. while North Vietnam is not, even though it was North Vietnam that subverted and invaded another country. The point is that you don’t object to imperialism, you object to American imperialism. You see, I would have thought it blatantly obvious that any sane person would not regard the north vietnamese as being engaged in imperialism, perhaps I've explained more clearly why that would be.
Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 15:00
Mr. Wood; bq. So vietnam and “the americas” are comparable entities in what respect? They both label geographic regions, not political entities. A better analogy might be "Latin America", which describes a geographic region determined by the linguistic / cultural properties of the inhabitants. So it also is with "Vietnam". "Historically":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Vietnam, the region we call "Vietnam" has been divided in to two or three polities or was a client state of China for most of its history, its unification as a unified, independent state a rather recent thing. I am not sure what you mean by "half" being granted independence -- North and South Vietnam were equally independent after the French left. If anything was different, it was that the North was even more of a client state of China and secondarily the USSR than the South was of the USA. As you yourself note, North Vietnam was left under the rule of a dictator (Ho Chi Minh) by the French, who was unpopular enough to need to resort to massive repression, suppression of all independent media, and brutal methods to put down revolts, not to mention requiring massive foreign aid to stay in power.
Michael Herdegen Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 17:06
bq. You may also be interested to know that the world wide web, HTML and the idea of a web browser were not invented in the USA, but by another brit. Now we learn the “internet” was invented by the USA as well. [...] The only thing that shrieks is your ignorance and misplaced self satisfaction. Speaking of ignorance, it's really, really funny that you'd post that, since you misread what I wrote. I claimed that you "posted [your comment] on the Internet, which was constructed by America." But let me guess, you will now claim that the Internet was really constructed by Britain, Europe, or the Soviet Union.
Michael Herdegen Saturday, 03 February 2007 at 17:28
Also, you may be interested to know that Tim Berners-Lee wanted Europeans, (specifically CERN, where he was working at the time), to develop the WorldWideWeb, as he called it - but THEY TURNED HIM DOWN. Tim had to turn to the Americans for support for his world-altering idea. I guess the golden age of important ideas, of musical notation and math concepts, is quite finished in Europe, eh ?
Steven Wood Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 07:02
bq. it’s really, really funny that you’d post that... it's not that funny. Perhaps you better say what you mean by "constructed". AOG, What i mean when I say half was granted independance, is that the northern half of the country was where the indigenous population had fought to remove an imperial power and install their own government. This is not what happened in the south of the country since the french left in place a man who the vietnamese considered a puppet, and infact didn't even live in the country. This really was bona fide old school imperialism. The North Vietnamese had attempted to gain support from the US for their independance movement, support that the US withheld due to Minh's known communism. It's reasonable to suggest though that had he been anything other than a communist he would have gained that support since he represented all the the US claimed to stand for at the end of WW2, which was that the old European powers would not be allowed to keep their empires. So far you have failed to answer how the US inteference in Iran for example is the same thing as the Viet Minh (which existed as a movement struggling for independance before the Chinese decided to support them) fighting to unify Vietnam, how this qualifies as Imperialism, or why the viet cong had such support in the south and the americans, by their own admission, had hardly any. Presumably you think that these are irrelevant and not even "a ghost of an argument". bq. its unification as a unified, independent state a rather recent thing. Anyone still reading can decide for themselves how accurate the statements of a man who thinks that 1000 years counts as "rather a recent" time for a nation to exist, actually are.
cjm Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 10:03
King Arthur: [after Arthur's cut off both of the Black Knight's arms] Look, you stupid Bastard. You've got no arms left. Black Knight: Yes I have. King Arthur: *Look*! Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound.
Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 10:11
Mr. Wood; Ah, I see. I value good government, while you value ethnic authenticity. I judge governments on how well they govern, while you judge them on whether they are indigenious. We will just have to disagree on whether being indigenous excuses any amount of brutality and oppression. Hopefully you will someday overcome your blood and soil nationalism and stop being one of those "alledgedly non-existent commentators":http://blog.thought-mesh.net/archives/2006/10/wheres_my_check_karl.php#comment_10170 who object to the spread of liberal democracy (when it interferes with people of the right blood and soil governing). P.S. Why does Ho Chi Minh count as indigenous and not Diem? For instance, Minh left Vietnam in 1911 and didn't return until 1941. He was a founder of the French Communist Party, and studied Communism in the USSR and China. He was an important leader in the "ComIntern":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comintern. Why isn't he a foreign imperialist dictator too? [["source":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh]] P.P.S. Did you actually read that Wikipedia article or simply hunt for an isolated fact that supported your view? Just glancing through, I see that it mentions that Vietnam was a Chinese vassal state in the 1400s and multiple independent states in the 1600s. I also see a map from 1600 that clearly does *not* include large areas in what later became South Vietnam. What an astute reader would see is that the entity of "Vietnam" has been unstable and malleable for millenia and not the enduring monolith you seem to think.
Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 10:22
cjm; What's interesting is how often I find that Wood's arguments aren't even internallly consistent. The Ho Chi Minh data above is a classic example. Not only does it turn out that Minh "didn't even live there" before starting a nationalistic movement, but he also viciously suppressed real nationalistic movements in the North to ensure his own power, just like a good little imperialist. I hadn't realized the extent of Minh's foreign training and loyalties before. I have to thank Wood for helping me to discover how little of a Vietnamese nationalist Minh actually was.
cjm Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 12:56
aog: when you think about it, a real nationalist (like franco or pinochet) would never damage the object of their loyalty (their country) in the way a poseur like ho or chavez does in a heartbeat. it is interesting that woods is consistent in his adoration of tyrants, and his belief in policies that do grave damage to any nation that adopts them. this is the consistent stain of an evil nature. this is what non-leftists find so hard to believe, that there is a kind of person that intentionally brings disaster and chaos onto their own society. light a man's house on fire and he won't be much inclined to bother you about politics. it's no accident that communist regime experience famines and chronic material shortages -- it's a feature not a bug.
Steven Wood Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 13:55
Even Eisenhower concluded that due to Minh's popularity after his victory against the French in the first indo-china war, had there been the election the geneva accords promised, 80% of the population would have voted for Minh. Clearly this was an unacceptable situation, and the vietnamese had to learn they were not fit to choose who they wanted to govern. Even the president of the USA admitted that the popular mandate was lacking for US intervention. Once again this is a case where the US decided that the vietnamese were not smart enough to vote for whom they wanted in power. Make of this what you will. What i consider desirable is leadership by popular mandate, if you find that shocking then be shocked. What i certainly object to is, as a tax payer, my government deciding to go and sort out the governments of nations on the other side of the world, against the will of their own and the subject countries population. Most people do. Face facts, the reason the US lost was because of a lack of political influence in the south vietnam. You can blam "the left" whoever that might be these days, all you like, but you've got it wrong. Be man enough to admit it.
Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 14:09
What I find shocking is that you think voting results under a dictatorship have any validity in determining the popular mandate. P.S. Were the Americans wrong? Is Vietnam better off today for having been united under Communism?
Michael Herdegen Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 20:25
The unintentionally-hilarious Steven Wood strikes again. Says he, "you’ve got it wrong. Be man enough to admit it." Yet Mr. Wood can't even bring himself to admit that he's in error over where and how the Internet and Web came to be, despite the fact that he can't cite a single fact in support of his position that it must have been "not-America". In Mr. Wood's own words, this makes him less than a man, with the mind of a child.
Tom C. Sunday, 04 February 2007 at 22:15
Stevie- Had we been able to stop Hitler's rise to power through the 'democratic process' would you have objected? I wonder. I mean, he hadn't killed off the Jews or broken off the soon to be arranged pact with Stalin at that point, so why should the Americans get themselves involved, aside from the fact that only the evil, imperialistic Americans could do anything about it. (I know, I know: evil American Capitalists were doing business with Hitler prior to the German declaration of war while American Communists and other statists thought Hitler was just peaches before stabbing Stalin in the back)). A critical analysis of ideological predispostions told the tale quite neatly. From my point of view, the left is becoming even more moronic than I would have thought possible a long, long time ago. Nothing surprises anymore. Holding on to the 'value-free' relativistic view of politics and power is no way to go through life, son.
Jeff Guinn Monday, 05 February 2007 at 06:01
Mr. Wood: AOG's question, Is Vietnam better off today for having been united under Communism? brings us full circle, in that it clearly identifies the outcomes you define as "just.' Clearly, you think it just that South Vietnam was subjugated by North Vietnam, just as you must also prefer that North Korea have subjugated South Korea. Sorry, but with your line of reasoning, you cannot have one without the other. So please, do tell, is Vietnam better off today for having been united under Communism? Is South Korea worse off for not doing so? bq. Perhaps you better say what you mean by “constructed”. You have just got to be kidding.
Steven Wood Monday, 05 February 2007 at 14:14
bq. What I find shocking is that you think voting results under a dictatorship have any validity in determining the popular mandate The votes I (and Eisenhower) are referring to include those cast in the south, at the time that was not under a communist government. The argument that you have consistently failed to address is that the US did not have a popular mandate to intervene, and the south vietnamese regieme of the time would not win the popular vote even in the south. This was reflected in the war itself where as I have repeatedly stated, the US and the south had the miltary advantage but, by their own admission, a significant political disadavantage. If the vietnamese wanted to vote for Minh, it might have been the wrong decision, but it was their perogative. To not allow them this decision because you think the outcome would be undesirable is effectively imperialism. You can dress it up all you like, but until you address these facts there can be no argument that the US did not have the popular mandate and was not acting in a manner consistent with the promotion of self determination. bq. So please, do tell, is Vietnam better off today for having been united under Communism? Is South Korea worse off for not doing so? It is nothing to do with them being "better off", it is about their right to choose their leaders. Unless you now wish to admit that you don't really support democracy at all but merely the implementation of liberal economic policies. Korea was different since the North had no popular mandate in the south, thus their attempts to impose their politcal will by military force on an unwilling population were unjust. Spot any similarties ? Tommy, Firstly, I do not consider myself part of what you call "The Left" which is pretty much what you describe as a socialst/communist. I object to a large state and large government, I don't trust governments particularly as most of my posts on here would attest to, so it would be somewhat stupid of me to be a communist would it not ? Secondly, "The Right" clutch at these ridiculous straws by comparing any leader who they object to with Adolf Hitler, this is moronic in the extreme.
Tom C. Monday, 05 February 2007 at 16:14
No, Steve, it's this reliance on 'democracy' which becomes an abstraction with almost no value without the rule of law and respect for basic human dignity. Viet Nam was only a single move in the game of Soviet expansionism. I only bring up Hitler and Communism since they are the most obvious examples of bent ideologies rising to power through the democratic process and 'process' seems to mean so much to you. The earlier disussion on the political continuum, right vs left, etc., seems to have shown an all too typical confusion on your part as an anti-American. As less than a fan of government or the 'large state', as you put it, the left/right continuum should be easy for you to understand. Statists are leftists. Classical liberals are on the right. Putting fascism at the polar opposite of Bolshevism is idiotic.
Annoying Old Guy Monday, 05 February 2007 at 16:39
Mr. Wood; bq. The votes I (and Eisenhower) are referring to include those cast in the south, at the time that was not under a communist government. Myself as well. However, the North had more people in it at the time, and because of the nature of the regime there, it would have been a 100% in favor vote (just like so many other "elections" under totalitarian regimes) making the actual vote totals in the South meaningless. bq. This was reflected in the war itself No, the war itself shows that *you're* wrong. From the very beginning, the Viet Cong were completely dependent on large amounts of men and material from the North. It was *never* indigenous to the South. Even with this aid, by the end of 1968 the Viet Cong were crushed, never to recover. It took a massive armored invasion from the North to finally bring down the South. bq. Unless you now wish to admit that you don’t really support democracy at all but merely the implementation of liberal economic policies Close. I support societies with a maximal amount of consent and rule of law. Democracy is a means, not an end, and has no instrinsic value. I support liberal democracy only to the extent it creates consent and rule of law. To paraphrase Churchill, liberal democracy may not be particularly good at such things, but everything else is worse. I am certainly not a fan of the "one man, one vote, one time" sort of democracy you think would have been the best choice in Vietnam.
Steven Wood Tuesday, 06 February 2007 at 13:57
AOG, bq. No, the war itself shows that you’re wrong. From the very beginning, the Viet Cong were completely dependent on large amounts of men and material from the North. It was never indigenous to the South. Even with this aid, by the end of 1968 the Viet Cong were crushed, never to recover. It took a massive armored invasion from the North to finally bring down the South. This is ridiculous, the south had the most powerful army in the world fighting on its side against an indigenous army and still didn't win, how popular do you think this makes the southern regieme ? Even according to your own definition here, the levels of external support, you are inconsistent. You can't seriously claim that the viet cong had greater support from external powers than the south vietnamese did. For example, operation rolling thunder involved dropping more explosives than the allies did in the whole of WW2. bq. I support societies with a maximal amount of consent and rule of law I thought it was that the government are accountable to the people the govern. The US government was hardly accountable to the vietnamese wre they ? Tom C, bq. Statists are leftists. Classical liberals are on the right The terms left and right are largley irrelevant these days. In this country, "liberalism" has changed from meaning effectively economic liberalism (as in the old Liberal party) to meaning socially "liberal", with ecomomic policies to the left of classic liberals. To pretend, as is often the case (and this blog is no exception to that), that the only objection to the war in vietnam and more recently Iraq, is from socialists or communists is total nonsense.
Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 06 February 2007 at 15:36
Mr. Wood; bq. This is ridiculous, the south had the most powerful army in the world fighting on its side against an indigenous army Once again you cast false assertions by the handful. The South fell when the USA _withdrew_, when the USA would not only not fight on the side of the South but refused it any aid at all. The North was massively supplied by China and the USSR, hardly a purely "indigenous" force. bq. You can’t seriously claim that the viet cong had greater support from external powers than the south vietnamese did That's very debatable. Certainly the North had far more support from its patrons (China and the USSR) than the South did from its (the USA). Large amounts of that flowed to the Viet Cong in the South. More than the USA gave the South? Possible. bq. The US government was hardly accountable to the vietnamese were they ? Neither was the North Vietnamese government, nor China nor the USSR. That is the central point all of your evasions are designed to obscure. You must obscure it, to avoid the obvious conclusion that you favor either truly oppressive regimes or blood and soil over what you claim to support, actual democratic accountability.
Tom C. Tuesday, 06 February 2007 at 15:52
Steve- The left/right continuum was a point of contention in one of your earlier posts. The use of left/right has become a useless excercise for a number of reasons, the most blatant was the 'progressives' attempt to associate fascist statism and Soviet statism as polar opposites. Left, at least in America, means an obsession with abstractions rather than the practical realities of human nature while expanding the state in the name of coercing impossibilities regardless of the cost to the productive economy or to ordered liberty. An ideology, in many ways, similar to that of the Soviet backed North Vietnamese, who, of course, had no pretense of basing their actions in law or tradition. Law and tradition, to the leftist true believers, are merely constructs of an illigitimate 'ruling class'.Any group attached to such values and with the access and willingnes to use the force of weapons to impose those values should be destroyed without apology. Pretending that the American home grown left did not engage in equivocation during the Viet Nam war is either dishonest or ignorant.
Steven Wood Wednesday, 07 February 2007 at 14:18
Tom C bq. Pretending that the American home grown left did not engage in equivocation during the Viet Nam war is either dishonest or ignorant Ah, I never claimed they didn't. What I said was that this was not why the US "lost" the vietnam war. AOG effectively claimed that the american left was guilty of not letting the american right save south veitnam from communism. bq. Neither was the North Vietnamese government, nor China nor the USSR. That is the central point all of your evasions are designed to obscure. You must obscure it, to avoid the obvious conclusion that you favor either truly oppressive regimes or blood and soil over what you claim to support, actual democratic accountability. What I favour, and what you favour is not what matters, this the point you constantly fail to grasp. This is the central problem that muddies so much of "the rights" thinking. What you cannot understand is that what you consider to be an oppresive regieme (and indeed what I consider to be oppressive regiemes) are not always considered thus by the populations that they govern. To me, this seems to have been the case in Vietnam, and it's not that surprising that most vietnamese were probably opposed to partition and in favour of a man who led them to "freedom" from the French. The south vietnamese regieme was not at all popular in the south. Vietnam, just like the arab world today, did not favour being closely modelled on the US politically. Despite having a partitioned country, support for the viet cong increased after the US began bombing. Again, this is hardly surprising when you consider that the US were not in favour of vietnam ever being united. This is what you cannot accept. The USA has no mandate. Even less can you accept that they may choose an ideolgical model that seems orthogonal to that of the US. There are myriad reasons why this might be the case, whether their choices or the reason for them are what we think we'd choose in the same situation is irrelevant. Your rhetoric reflects the typically black and white "good vs evil" scenario that seems to be the only situation you can understand.
Tom C. Wednesday, 07 February 2007 at 14:39
Steven- If the twentieth century proved anything it proved that evil exists. The application of evil by the modern, technologically advanced but ideologically driven state was, if numbers mean anything, without precedent. Things may be more 'black and white' then you realize. It really doesn't matter to me what your 'native populations' think when their beliefs will lead to oppression at home and aggression abroad.
Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 07 February 2007 at 21:40
bq. AOG effectively claimed that the american left was guilty of not letting the american right save south veitnam from communism. Correct. I note that your arguments here have been why that was a good thing, not that it wasn't done. What you cannot grasp, and muddles so much of the thinking of the left, is that China and the USSR had no mandate either. Your constant focus on America only, ignoring the actions of any other state, is why your analysis is faulty. bq. What you cannot understand is that what you consider to be an oppresive regieme (and indeed what I consider to be oppressive regiemes) are not always considered thus by the populations that they govern Why does that never apply domestically? Or to regimes like Pinochet in Chile?
Steven Wood Thursday, 08 February 2007 at 14:47
AOG Ah, the last bastion of defence "we're not as bad as the soviets were so that makes us OK". Didn't the viet minh ask for chinese and soviet help ? Weren't the viet minh the strongest political force in vietnam ? Once again, this is the idea which you cannot countenance, whatever the evidence that supports it. In fact neither the USSR or China were carpet bombing south vietnam as I recall, but then again, according to your fantastic claims they still did provide probably even more support to the viet minh the the US did for the south vietnamese regieme. Nor did the USSR or China actively seek to suppress elections aimed at unifying the country by siding with a man who was essentially a puppet of the hated former colonial rulers. Of course, it was the fault of the USSR and China, that disillusioned Vietnamese turned to the only major poilitical movement in the country that favoured reunification. It was the fault of the USSR and China that the USA backed the wrong man. The chinese and the USSR were fighting a "proxy" war, and the indications which you fail to even consider are that the viet minh were far more popular in south vietnam than the regieme the US had chosen to back. The US were not fighting a proxy war, their troops, dropping US bombs from US planes killed more than 70,000 civilians during rolling thunder for example. How does russian or chinese involvement compare to this ? Your answer "just the same" or "even worse". Is, like the rest of your arguments historically ingnorant and plain wrong. Presuambly the US would have fought a proxy war if they could've, but the people they were backing were too marginalised. bq. Why does that never apply domestically? Or to regimes like Pinochet in Chile? There you go arguing with your invisible foe "the left" again. Have I ever said that Pinochet should have been removed by military intervention, or that we should have sent troops to support Chilean dissent ? Groan.....
Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 08 February 2007 at 15:20
Mr. Wood; bq. we’re not as bad as the soviets were so that makes us OK Not at all. You are the one implicitly claiming there is a difference. I am trying to discover what that is, in your opinion, but you keep evading. As far as I can tell, it's that the Viet Minh used nationalistic rhetoric as a cover. bq. Didn’t the viet minh ask for chinese and soviet help ? Debatable. Can you "ask for help" from party X if you are a creation of party X? bq. Weren’t the viet minh the strongest political force in vietnam ? After they used Chinese and Soviet support to crush all opposition. Again, the problem here is that you are very supportive of Viet Minh power politics while objecting so strongly to weaker American efforts in the same vein. Ho Chi Minh can use foreign aid to install himself as a dictator while forcibly suppressing and killing the opposition, but Diem can't. Why? If Diem, with American aid, had summarily executed all opposition so that he was as "popular" as Ho Chi Minh, would he be legitimate in your view? After all, Minh was parachuted in to Vietnam after living for 30 years outside the country, something you found very objectionable about Diem, plus Minh spent many of the later years of that period being a good international Communist, and training in the USSR. bq. which you fail to even consider are that the viet minh were far more popular in south vietnam than the regieme the US had chosen to back I have already considered it and provided numerous bits of evidence of why I don't believe it. bq. How does russian or chinese involvement compare to this ? Massive amounts of armament, money, and military assistance. bq. There you go arguing with your invisible foe “the left” again. Two points -- * I didn't mention "the left", you did. You are once again arguing with an invisible statement of mine. * Now "the left" doesn't exist either? bq. Have I ever said that Pinochet should have been removed by military intervention, or that we should have sent troops to support Chilean dissent ? Not my point at all. You said that it wasn't for us to judge whether a regime was oppressive. If you are willing to say that I am mistaken in attributing to you the view that the Pinochet regime was oppressive, I will concede this point.
Jeff Guinn Thursday, 08 February 2007 at 20:42
which you fail to even consider are that the viet minh were far more popular in south vietnam than the regieme the US had chosen to back
How about a simple math test, Mr. Wood? a) Number of boat people before North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. b) Number of boat people after. How does b) relate to a)? Why do you think that would be?
Steven Wood Friday, 09 February 2007 at 15:19
AOG bq. Not at all. You are the one implicitly claiming there is a difference. I am trying to discover what that is, in your opinion, but you keep evading. As far as I can tell, it’s that the Viet Minh used nationalistic rhetoric as a cover. The numerous bits of evidence you provide do not address the issue. Why could the US not drum as much political influence, if, as you claim the regieme they went to war to shore up was really more popular amongst vietnamese than than the Viet Minh. bq. After they used Chinese and Soviet support to crush all opposition. ehmm....that would be what Diem tried to do but failed. Does this not count ? Is this better ? bq. After all, Minh was parachuted in to Vietnam after living for 30 years outside the country, something you found very objectionable about Diem. Not diem AOG. Someone who is as apparantley as conversant in vietnamese politics of the time as you, someone indeed so conversant as to form such a strong view as you have would know that the "leader" i referred to was Bao Dai - the Emperor who was a Frnch puppet, and considered as much by the vietnamese. The man who in your opinion was more popular amongst the vietnamese than Minh. bq. Massive amounts of armament, money, and military Not quite the same as direct military assistance though is it ? Again though, I suppose you'll probably still maintain you are right. bq. Not my point at all. You said that it wasn’t for us to judge whether a regime was oppressive. If you are willing to say that I am mistaken in attributing to you the view that the Pinochet regime was oppressive, I will concede this point. This is not complicated. Yes Pinochets regieme was oppressive. Yes Minh's regieme was oppresive. Neither warranted direct military intervention, neither would have did or would welcome it. Got it ? Jeff,
How about a simple math test, Mr. Wood? a) Number of boat people before North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam. b) Number of boat people after. How does b) relate to a)? Why do you think that would be?
Would not disagree with you for one second that the boat peoples plight was indeed truly awful. Driven out of their own country for siding with the south and the US. Does this prove # That Minh would not have won the elections the US effectively stopped. # That the atrocities commited by the Viet Minh after coming to power were worse than those comitted by the US ? I think the answer to both these questions is no. Here's some more maths test for you. Number of civilians killed in the war - 4 million. Number of vietnames soliders killed - 1.3 million - mostly from the north. Number of tonnes of ordnance dropped by the US - 300,000. Not all exploded. Number of gallons of agent orange dropped by the US - 10 million. Number of boat people ~1 million. You do the math jeff. What caused the most death and misery ? Communism or war ?
Tom C. Friday, 09 February 2007 at 15:51
Viet Nam is only one little episode in the history of communist oppression: Re-education camps, famine, summary execution, destruction of all remnants of 'bourgoise' culture, persecution of religion, subversion, aggression against neighboring countries and the destruction of the economy. I can see, Steven, why it's more important to focus on the items you choose rather than the nature of the tyranny. Much easier to make it all about accounting and adding up sums. Communism IS war, it was called the 'permanent revolution' for a reason.
cjm Friday, 09 February 2007 at 16:48
you all are a lot more patient than i would be. the mule only learns from the 2x4, not the carrot. people like the boy wood need a harsh life lesson in order to clear out their head gear. his kind are to America, what drones are to a bee hive, or fleas are to a dog.
Michael Herdegen Friday, 09 February 2007 at 19:19
bq. What caused the most death and misery ? Communism or war ? Well, let's see. North Vietnam finally took over South Vietnam in 1975. For the next twenty years, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam would number among the five LEAST-prosperous nations on the entire Earth. The common people in Vietnam during those years had an average ANNUAL income of the equivalent of one U.S. dollar. One dollar per year in income. Think about how pathetic that is. Even now the per-capita GDP of Vietnam is only $ 2,500/yr in purchasing power parity - a mere 6% of the per-capita U.S. GNP, and again, we're measuring apples-to-apples here, in purchasing power parity. The typical Vietnamese person is 1/16th as wealthy as the typical American person is, and that's after the past twelve years of robust growth. So, if we consider how many people starved to death over the past thirty years in Vietnam, how many people died from lack of medical care or drugs, how many people's lives were unnecessarily and pointlessly circumscribed through lack of access to education or economic opportunity... It's clear that Communism caused far more death and misery than did the war itself. Only a very ignorant person could think otherwise. But here's an additional question, Mr. Wood: Which nation is better, Cuba or the United States ?
Jeff Guinn Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 06:48
Mr. Wood: bq. I think the answer to both these questions is no. Here’s some more maths test for you. You continue to make the same two mistakes here. First, you made an assertion about the unforced political popularity of the Viet Minh. Unfortunately, that assertion is directly contradicted by the number of people who took incredible risks to get the heck out of Dodge once the North took over. Second, you continue to wear moral blinders. Why did the US use all that ordnance? It didn't happen in a vacuum, but rather was a response to the North's aggression. Your position boils down to excusing the North's aggression, and either ignoring, or discounting, the inevitable oppression and deprivation attending communist victory. In other words, you prefer that outcome, just as your preferred outcome for the Korean war to have been the entire peninsula under North Korean rule. If you wish to be accused of logical coherence, you cannot prefer the former and not the latter. If you wish to be accused of moral sentience, you cannot prefer the latter. Finally, your assessment of the "maths" focussed entirely on the immediate costs, and completely neglected the knock-on effects. You have failed to ask yourself how much better off Vietnam would have been had the North never decided upon conquest in the first place, nor how much better off the South would have been had that conquest never succeeded. Your failure to assign any moral agency to North Vietnam is baffling, and requires explanation.
cjm Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 10:49
jg: you are just bouncing the rubble here :)
Jeff Guinn Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 11:04
cjm: I know. Unfortunately, I simply cannot fathom the skewed reasoning of the anti-war Left. Effect without cause is puzzling enough, but the utter amorality baffles completely.
Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 14:01
Mr. Wood; bq. Why could the US not drum as much political influence [...]? Because it wasn't willing to commit mass arrests, massacres, and outlaw all opposition. bq. that would be what Diem tried to do but failed. Does this not count ? Is this better ? You are the one claiming it was better when done by the Viet Minh. bq. the “leader” i referred to was Bao Dai - the Emperor who was a Frnch puppet, and considered as much by the vietnamese. The man who in your opinion was more popular amongst the vietnamese than Minh. How could I claim that Bao Dai was more popular than Minh if I have never mentioned him? Is there ever a point, while you are making such things up, that you wonder why have to do that to defend your point of view? bq. Yes Pinochets regieme was oppressive. Yes Minh’s regieme was oppresive But you "claimed Minh's regime wasn't":#comment_11582. At this point, due to all of these non-sequitors and direct contradictions of yours, I have lost all track of what is actually in contention here.
Steven Wood Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 14:46
Jeff, No matter how many times i say "I am not a communist". No matter how many times I tell you that self determination is more important than US style democracy, your cannot seem to process these basic facts. If you even bothered to read what I write you would find that a) I didn't say that I supported North Koreas invasion of the south b) I would never claim the situation in North Korea was in any way preferrable to that in the south. My objection to US intervention is that they had no mandate. This is about the right of self determination, and the right of the Vietmanese to elect whoever the vietnamese want, no matter what you, AOG, and the rest think of it. bq. Unfortunately, that assertion is directly contradicted by the number of people who took incredible risks to get the heck out of Dodge once the North took over Rubbish. Because a lot of people who supported the losing side fled after the Communists came to power this "directly contradicts" the statements that Minh was more popular amongst vietnamese than Diem and the US, and that the viet cong had more political power in south vietnam than the US and the regieme they backed. What planet do you live on ? Firstly it is evidence that would suggest that Minh was not popular with a lot of vietnames, but to claim that it is game set and match and the only indicator worth taking note of is desperate, stupid and plain wrong. To claim that the boat people would have still fled had there not been a huge and bloody war resulting in 4 million civilian deaths is what's skewed and utterly illogical. Besides, we all know what happened to the american indians when they backed the losing side in the war of independance eh ? Terrible. bq. It didn’t happen in a vacuum, but rather was a response to the North’s aggression. Jeff, you know even less of the pre war history of Vietnam that AOG does quite clearly. That would be the agression that involved funding political groups who favoured their policies and were formed in direct response to the unpopular dictator the US backed. erhm..righty ho. If that's agression worthy of that sort of response... bq.. You have failed to ask yourself how much better off Vietnam would have been had the North never decided upon conquest in the first place, nor how much better off the South would have been had that conquest never succeeded. Your failure to assign any moral agency to North Vietnam is baffling, and requires explanation. p. North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese do not regard them selves as being part of seperate nations. You do. Therefore to the north vietnamese and those in the south who supported reunification, this was not random communist expansion as you like to paint it. This was an attempt to reunite their country now that their imperial rulers had gone. They even asked for US assitance to fight against the french. The only thing that prevented the US supporting this was that Minh was known to be a communist. Other than that the "naked agression" of which you speak was the direct enactment of all that FDR claimed the US supported post WW2 - no more unpopular European empires and their puppets thank you very much. Moral agency has nothing to do with it, as I've repeatedly stated if it's morals you think the military are there to uphold, why not get them to help out all the african countries stifled by corrupt dictators ? Where's the morality in backing an unpopular dictator who quashed elections and then engaging in a war that killed > 5 million people ? Is that "Moral" these days ? What's baffling is how anyone with can form such strong opinions about something they clearly know so little about. Who knows how much better of it would be, do you ? What we can say for sure is that there would be many millions who wouldn't be dead as a result of a war involving an outside super power which was destined never to acheive it's goals.e.You were the one who introduced maths and numbers, but the problem is now they no longer suit your argument so its back "morals" again. Now the USA and its population had a moral duty to fight and pay for Diem ! Yippee. bq.. It’s clear that Communism caused far more death and misery than did the war itself. Only a very ignorant person could think otherwise. But here’s an additional question, Mr. Wood: Which nation is better, Cuba or the United States ? p. Michael, Get a grip. Mere conjecture, and what you continually fail to accept is that the regieme that the US backed was not averse to killing its own either. The real question is this - is it worth killing 4 million people, dropping more bombs than were dropped in the second world war, creating a massive policial and social rift in your own country which has not healed to this day, have the national guard shoot teenage girls, drop 10,000,000 gallons of defoliating chemicals without properly understanding how they will affect those who will have to suffer the consequences - to make Cuba as good as the United States ? Somehow I think not. And as for knock on effects what about the effects of chemical defoliants and unexploded bombs ?
Steven Wood Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 14:59
oops. Published too soon. The question that you all need to ask regards morals is this : If you want to do the most good in the world, and if needs be use your military to acheive this good, why would you choose to help nations who apparantley don't want your help ? Why choose nations who on the scale of extreme poverty and human suffering in the world are not even that close to the bottom ? Why choose nations who get tonnes of aid from other aligned nations ? The answer you will find is nothing to do "morals" what so ever, nor does or did the people of the USA have a "moral" duty to protect the Vietnamese.
Tom C. Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 16:34
Steven- Get a grip, fella. You're descending into caricature and absurdity. Question for you: Are American interests moral when they clash with the interests of, say, Soviet expansionism? It would have been nice, no doubt, if 'we could all have just gotten along', which seems, as far as I can tell, to be the entire point of your argument. I suppose there were no differences between American interests and Soviet interests? Is that what you are trying to say? What's amazing is the historical time warp in which one needs to be enveloped in order to make the weird, semi-literate, ideological arguments in support of an awful and cruel position.
Michael Herdegen Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 16:42
Michael, Get a grip. Mere conjecture...
That's the best that you can do ? I've laid out a pretty compelling case that every single common Vietnamese person has suffered terribly since '75. We know that under similar conditions, the UN sanctions regime against Iraq, there were 35,000 additional deaths annually, over the pre-sanctions mortality rate, and the average Iraqi was filthy rich during that period, compared to the average Vietnamese. We also know for a fact that precious few Vietnamese people received modern medical care, or a basic education. Therefore, your position is exactly analogous to claiming that the link between smoking and lung cancer is "mere conjecture".
Jeff Guinn Saturday, 10 February 2007 at 21:41
Mr. Wood:
No matter how many times i say “I am not a communist”. No matter how many times I tell you that self determination is more important than US style democracy, your cannot seem to process these basic facts.
I have yet to accuse you of being a communist. Rather, I have accused you of preferring historically repellant outcomes. AOG has also clearly demonstrated your invocation of "self determination" is vacuous: the aggressor entities in both the Korean and Vietnam wars were communist, to whom the notion of "self determination" is utterly risible. It is your line of reasoning to which I object: it runs headlong into itself before it so much as gets its shoe laces tied.
North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese do not regard them selves as being part of seperate nations. You do.
I can't imagine a sentence that defeats itself in fewer words than that. What that means is that the North was invading itself, and the South was resisting being invaded by itself. Which couldn't happen because they are the same, because there was no difference in governing philosophy because they were the same nation, which makes the South's appeal for aid against an externally supported invasion of itself by itself immoral. See what I mean? You did it far more quickly than I did. While completely eliding just what the term "reunification" entailed. You render it as a completely content free concept, taking it for granted that reunification had a pre-ordained subject and object. Your confusing "moral agency" with "morals" does not enhance your credibility. Instead, it strongly suggests you do not understand a significant element of the discussion. The North Vietnamese possessed moral agency, and must take the blame for the aggression they instigated. Instead, you heap all the blame upon the reaction to the aggression. That is amoral nonsense, and, whether you are a communist or not, puts you on the side of those who sought to impose their will by force. This sentence:
Where’s the morality in backing an unpopular dictator who quashed elections and then engaging in a war that killed > 5 million people ?
Illustrates my point exactly. The "unpopular dictator" engaged in a war with an unmentioned opponent who bears no responsibility for anything, least of all starting it. What also demonstrates my point is your complete refusal to consider the horrible costs of communist rule. Unlike you, perhaps, I have been to communist countries. It is impossible to exaggerate their awfulness, or adequately marvel at your complete evasion of Which nation is better, Cuba or the United States ?
Steven Wood Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 04:47
What difference does it make "which is better" ? The USA is a better country to live in than Cuba for most people I'm sure. Does this mean that massive military intervention is justified ? Do the ends justify the means is the only sensible question one would study before lending direct military aid to vietnam. Make no mistake, without american aid, the south vietnamese regieme of Diem would have fallen with little more than a murmur. There was significant internal resistance as well, another fact ignored by you. The fact that this appears to be what most vietnamese want is something you continually refuse to countenance. After all, why ever would they not want to be ruled by a US puppet ? bq. What that means is that the North was invading itself, and the South was resisting being invaded by itself. Which couldn’t happen because they are the same, because there was no difference in governing philosophy because they were the same nation, which makes the South’s appeal for aid against an externally supported invasion of itself by itself immoral. You are either a) stupid b) ignorant of the political situation in South Vietnam before the war, c) against the removal of imperial dictators, something the US itself claimed to support in the post war landscape. d) all three of the above. I suspect that a and b are the most likely. The south vietnamese regieme was nothing more than a puppet of the French and after the US pulled out, a puppet of the US. However, please elobarate upon when the North Vietnamese invaded the south amd detail how this triggered US involvement. You see - you simply haven't got a clue what you're talking about. What was the "naked aggression" that warranted the US intervention ? Michael 35000 * 25 years = 875000 deaths. Add on a million or so boat people. Anyway you look at it, this is significantly lower than the death and destruction caused by the war. This to me represents a compelling case that the war did more harm than good. If you cannot or will not see this, then it is hardly me who is blind is it ?
Michael Herdegen Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 05:21
Steven Wood: You continue to ignore the human cost in terms of lack of economic opportunity and education. It's like saying that as long as the mortality rates are the same, there's no difference between the lives of people in prison and those at liberty. How anyone can look at the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a success story is beyond me.
Tom C. Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 10:58
Steven- It's really very simple. Opposing Soviet expansionism was never 'wrong'. Viet Nam was a chapter in the contest and the initial resolve to check the north was worth doing. The Cold War may have, not saying would have, evolved differently and taken longer to play out without the attempt. Every year of unchecked Soviet and Maoist aggression took a human toll in death and misery which you seem to overlook. North Korea is the perfect example. It was a war worth fighting. Who knows how many lives were saved? A unified Korea under the nutjobs of the North would have led to millions of unneccesary deaths through starvation alone. The fall of the Soviet Union did more to limit the damage to Viet Nam and China, by the way, than any other factor. All attempts to impose ideological purity ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. What if the Viet Nam war reduced the shelf life of the Soviet Union by ten years? Would it have been worth it?
Steven Wood Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 14:42
Michael, bq. How anyone can look at the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as a success story is beyond me. Once again you are assigning me an opinion I don't have and have never offered. it is clearly not a success story, but neither was the US attempt have the country partioned with a dictator of their choice in the southern half. The US did not "lose" the war in the sense that militarily they were not defeated, and came off better. They didn't acheive their goals in vietnam because the task was pretty much impossible and as usual bombing the country only stiffened the resolve of those determined to get rid of the south vietnamese regieme. Tom bq. North Korea is the perfect example. It was a war worth fighting. Agreed. But a different situation, the attempts to paint the two conflicts as being almost exactly the same by many, wont wash. bq. What if the Viet Nam war reduced the shelf life of the Soviet Union by ten years? Would it have been worth it? If it did that I'd be very surprised. War tends to polarise opinion, especially when there is no clear outcome.
Tom C. Sunday, 11 February 2007 at 19:38
Steven- 'If it did that I'd be very surprised'. Why not answer a simple question. Did the cold war polarize opinion? Should any sensible person care? Should the just war be avoided in the name of protecting your sensitivity?
Jeff Guinn Monday, 12 February 2007 at 01:15
Mr. Wood: You have condemned the Vietnam war, giving the North Vietnamese a completely free ride because of some putative political support in the South. But the Korean war, started by communist aggression, is somehow OK. That is a conundrum you have completely failed to accommodate. In fact, given the clear lessons of history, you should explain to us why it would not have been better for the South to have invaded the North.
Make no mistake, without american aid, the south vietnamese regime of Diem would have fallen with little more than a murmur.
Make no mistake, had there not been massive Chinese and Soviet support, the North would never have been able to sustain the war it started. Why do you fail to mention that?
You are either a) stupid b) ignorant of the political situation in South Vietnam before the war, c) against the removal of imperial dictators, something the US itself claimed to support in the post war landscape. d) all three of the above. I suspect that a and b are the most likely.
FYI: I have an undergraduate degree in International Relations, and a Masters in Computer Science. I spent twenty years in the military, have been in combat, and attended service schools that looked very critically at, among other things, the Vietnam War. I am neither stupid, nor ignorant. However, you are a foul mouthed jerk who has demonstrated a very selective recitation of history, while mystifying yourself with your own reasoning. Please, do us all a favor and at least watch your manners.
Steven Wood Monday, 12 February 2007 at 14:01
Jeff, bq. But the Korean war, started by communist aggression, is somehow OK The North Korean Army invaded south korea, against the wishes of the population there. bq. That is a conundrum you have completely failed to accommodate No it is not. The situation in vietnam was not the same as the situation in Korea, for the reasons I've argued, the political background to the americanization of the war, they are quite different. bq. Make no mistake, had there not been massive Chinese and Soviet support, the North would never have been able to sustain the war it started. Why do you fail to mention that? Because it's irrelevant. The only thing that makes that statement true is the fact that the USA were directly at war with the north. If they were not involved, my statement remains true. I'll ask you once again : please elobarate upon when the North Vietnamese invaded the south amd detail how this triggered US involvement. What was the “naked aggression” that warranted the US intervention ? Sorry for suggesting you were stupid. Let me put it in your own words: You do not understand a significant element of the discussion
Annoying Old Guy Monday, 12 February 2007 at 14:37
Mr. Wood; bq. please elobarate upon when the North Vietnamese invaded the south As "already noted here":#comment_11492, North Vietnam had begun invading South Vietnam by 1957 by sending armed troops and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh trail to conduct raids and subversion. This is generally considered a form of invasion and an act of war. This triggered American involvement because the USA was an ally of the South Vietnamese government and an opponent of North Vietnam's patron states.
Jeff Guinn Monday, 12 February 2007 at 15:38
Mr. Wood: What AOG said is precisely what I was talking about. In both cases the North attacked the South. That, at first, the Vietnam war was not an invasion by conventional forces is a distinction without a difference. It was still an attack sponsored and supported by the North. The Soviet & Chinese support was far from irrelevant, it was essential.
Michael Herdegen Monday, 12 February 2007 at 18:08
Steven Wood: If you believe that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam "is clearly not a success story", then why have you been insisting that the American phase of the Vietnam war was worse for the peoples of South Vietnam than was the subsequent thirty-one years of Communist rule, which yet continues ? As I presented for your edification, for twenty years after the fall of So. Vietnam, the common people lived lives of deprivation and grinding poverty, and even after the Vietnamese economy started growing, the situation didn't much improve. In apples-to-apples comparisons, the average Vietnamese person is still deprived and poverty-stricken, compared to the peoples of advanced nations, with a per-capita *purchasing power parity*[3] GDP of only US$ 2,500. You seem to be saying that it's much worse for a few million people to be killed, rather than for an entire population to live without hope, at the edge of starvation, for decades. It may be needless to say, but I disagree. Of course, I was born & raised in a society that doesn't bend a knee to anyone, where we fought a war for freedom over a perceived injustice in mere taxation, and where even today we believe that anything can be done - and then we back it up by doing what the rest of the world believes to be impossible.[4] You may be more qualified to educate me about the satisfactions of living with a oppressive boot on one's neck, grinding one's face into the dust for one's entire life - joyless, hopeless, servile.
fn3. Purchasing power parity equalizes the purchasing power of different currencies in their home countries for a given basket of goods. These special exchange rates are often used to compare the standards of living of two or more countries. The adjustments are meant to give a better picture than comparing gross domestic products (GDP) using market exchange rates. For example, a U.S. dollar exchanged and spent in the People's Republic of China will buy much more than a dollar spent in the United States. fn4. E.g., the F/A-22 Raptor, SpaceShip One, the Spirit & Opportunity Mars Rovers, the Hubble Space Telescope - all developed in America, all so far uncopied by other societies, and the Raptor actually cannot yet be copied, because no other society currently has the ability to manufacture it.
Steven Wood Wednesday, 14 February 2007 at 15:27
AOG, It is typical that you would say this "generally constitutes an act of war" during a period of history in which two super powers constantly gave direct military assistance to sympathetic groups or groups opposed to the other without declaring war. This invasion of which you speak (in 1957, ehmm..right) was so awful right enough that the USA instantly retaliated with a massive military campaign. Nope. Not much of an invasion, nor an act of "naked aggression" that drew the USA into a war either was it ? Regardless, you choose to compare it exactly to Korea. bq. You seem to be saying that it’s much worse for a few million people to be killed, rather than for an entire population to live without hope, at the edge of starvation, for decades I'd rather my kids were alive than dead. "a few million people". You cannot possibly be serious. There are many words for people who attribite their countries vastly disproprtionate share of the worlds resources and wealth to their inherint superiority. As if the only thing that causes extreme poverty is communism. As if vietnam was even near the poorest countries in the world, requiring to be liberated by the USA. As if the USA with it's cotton tarrifs was or even or is even helping non-communist countries trade their way out of debt. You would say "it's not our responsibilty" to that I'm sure, which flies in the face of your entire argument. bq. and then we back it up by doing what the rest of the world believes to be impossible Give your patriotic flag waving a rest for gods sake and grow up. bq. joyless, hopeless, servile. Not content with boasting of the genius and brilliance of his fore fathers, trivialising the deaths of over 4 million peoles, he now goes on to further insult the vietnamese by telling us they are all "joyless" and servile. If only they knew that by surrendering to the USA they would become not servile ? If only they knew that the USA despite its support for their imperial rulers who had just been removed at great cost, was there to free them. "Hopeless, servile and joyless" fools indeed. I stand corrected.
Michael Herdegen Wednesday, 14 February 2007 at 16:17
As if vietnam was even near the poorest countries in the world...
Are you incapable of learning ? I already told you that it was among the five most-impoverished nations on Earth for twenty years. You could, like, LOOK IT UP, but I guess that reading even a single page is too much work for the likes of ye.
I’d rather my kids were alive than dead.
Alive as slaves, to finish your sentence. I disagree. Live free or die, eh ?
There are many words for people who attribite their countries vastly disproprtionate share of the worlds resources and wealth to their inherint superiority.
And when speaking of the developed world, one of those words is "correct". The U.S., for instance, are often said to consume 25% of the world's resources, but of course they're also responsible for PRODUCING 30% of the world's economy. America, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK, et al., have a vastly disproportionate share of the world's wealth because they produce a surplus over requirements, and keep it up forever. "Poor" nations produce very little.
Give your patriotic flag waving a rest for gods sake and grow up.
Which isn't the same as saying that I'm wrong, because of course because I'm exactly correct. The United States does things that no other nation on Earth can do. Deal with it like an adult, don't start sulking again, as you did when I proved that the Internet and WWW were American creations.
If only they knew that the USA despite its support for their imperial rulers who had just been removed at great cost, was there to free them.
I wonder if you are aware that you are implying that they ended up being better off under the Communists, which of course is nonsense on stilts. They could have been South Korea, they ended up being Chad. I have to go back to the "are you capable of learning" theme. You claim to be no fan of Communism, but you cannot bring yourself to admit that the South Vietnamese suffered mightily under the Communists, and that they would have been much, much better off being a vassel of America.
I stand corrected.
Indeed you do.
Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 14 February 2007 at 16:24
Mr. Wood; I am sorry, I was being a bit facetious. It was clearly and unequivocally an act of war. It's a good start to another response that strongly distorts my arguments. You are still struggling with your essential dilemma, which is either # Nations should obey international law (or) # It was "a period of history in which two super powers constantly gave direct military assistance to sympathetic groups or groups opposed to the other without declaring war" This is a dilemma for you because you want to have #1 apply to the USA and #2 to the USSR / China. If the same applies to both, then either # The USSR / China / North Korea started the war and are therefore the parties responsible for the ensuing costs of the war (or) # There is no guilt, the superpowers did as they would Unfortunately for you, one can't get to your desired outcome for the USA of "guilty! guilty! guilty!" and be logically consistent. The larger point here is that I have been trying to discover if there is some reason other than anti-Americanism that you don't want to apply the same principles to both sides. I yet to see you provide one. bq. This invasion of which you speak (in 1957, ehmm..right) Do you have a better date than 1957? I used that date because North Vietnam was sending troops and military supplies in to the South by that time. bq. was so awful right enough that the USA instantly retaliated with a massive military campaign. Not at all. The aid given to the South ramped up slowly. It didn't become significant until 1964 or so after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. You may consider seven years "instantly" but I don't think that's the common view. bq. Not much of an invasion, nor an act of “naked aggression” I have consistently used the term "naked aggression" for the full scale invasions of the South by the army of the North. I originally used the term "subversion" for the armed incursions before that, but you didn't like that either. bq. Regardless, you choose to compare it exactly to Korea. No. I do consider it similar enough to Korea to make strong contra-historical deductions about the likely history of an independent South Korea. The moral issues are also very similar and it's hard to see how one can support the defense of South Korea but not South Vietnam without being inconsistent or irrational.
Steven Wood Friday, 16 February 2007 at 07:18
bq. as you did when I proved that the Internet and WWW were American creations. The WWW was invented by a brit, so you proved nothing my friend. bq. have a vastly disproportionate share of the world’s wealth because they produce a surplus over requirements Ah, that's why theres a massive trade defcit ? bq. “Poor” nations produce very little. So it's their own fault, and you fail to address the impact of protectionist policies, so even the stuff they do produce, they can't sell to the big ecomonic powers. bq. I wonder if you are aware that you are implying that they ended up being better off under the Communists, which of course is nonsense on stilts. Once again, I imply no such thing. What I imply is that nationalism trumped US intervention, rightly or wrongly ir is not the choice of the US to decide who gets to be in power. bq. And when speaking of the developed world, one of those words is “correct”. You need say no more michael. If only the stupid indians had had guns and hostile neighbours with which to practice waging organised war againt, they too could be "superior". We'll never agree about this, the issue is one of self determination and the right to make mistakes for yourself, just as many americans feel about electing idiots like GB. Popular support in vietnam was not behind the US, therefore they had no mandate, that's why the lost. If you think that the vietnamese would be better off ruled by the US then fine, you'll enjoy Niall Fergusons books, they may well have been, but most people home and abroad object to what they see as imperialism, thus in this day and age, it, like communism is dead in the water. The problem with your own logic is that you would have no problem with the US ruling half the world because it may well make them better off.
Jeff Guinn Friday, 16 February 2007 at 09:24
Mr. Wood:
The WWW was invented by a brit, so you proved nothing my friend.
Re-read what Mr. Herdegon wrote. The WWW was indeed invented by a Brit, but, absent the US, it would have been stillborn.
Ah, that’s why there's a massive trade deficit?
Ah, no. One reason is that China is undervaluing its currency. Another is that headline trade deficit numbers do not include services.
So it’s their own fault, and you fail to address the impact of protectionist policies ...
In large part, it is. Most poor countries have perfectly awful, kleptocratic governments for whom rule of law and property rights are, at best, a sham. It is true that rich countries should, if they understood economics at all, should dismantle their trade barriers. However, unions will have none of it (making yor point here a complete diversion from the conversation at hand).
We’ll never agree about this, the issue is one of self determination ...
No. It. Isn't. Self determination and communism are utterly alien concepts. There is no such thing as self determination in North Korea, China, or Cuba. Communism has always been imposed by force, and maintained by force. AOG pointed out the fatal flaw in your position: a self imposed conundrum. Insisting you can have it both ways does not make it so. What is so is that your preferred outcome is historically proven to result in deprivation, slaughter, and vile servitude.
Annoying Old Guy Friday, 16 February 2007 at 10:30
Mr. Guinn; What I find interesting here is that Mr. Wood turns out to be such a right-winger, by his own judgement. "Here he writes":#comment_11505 bq. here are a few ideas typically associated with the far right[...] Extreme nationalism, the idea of a “pure” ideal of the nation, often defined on racial or “blood” grounds. Advocacy for the expansion or restructuring of existing state borders to achieve this ideal nation, often to the point of embracing expansionary war And Mr. Wood also states clearly that the overriding determinate of legitimate government is "being indigenous":#comment_11722, which is exactly that sort of thing. And here I thought he was a leftist! Mr. Wood;
have a vastly disproportionate share of the world’s wealth because they produce a surplus over requirements
Ah, that’s why theres a massive trade defcit ?
Obviously, because only the USA has the surplus productivity to afford to buy that much stuff. Otherwise there is no way such a trade deficit could be sustained for decades as it has been. bq. you think that the vietnamese would be better off ruled by the US You still fail to comprehend our point of view. Not one person here has advocated this position. bq. most people home and abroad object to what they see as imperialism No, they object to what they see as *American* imperialism, you being an excellent archetype. You seem to have no objection at all to Soviet and Chinese imperialism. Again I ask, what accounts for that difference?
Steven Wood Monday, 19 February 2007 at 04:30
AOG And Mr. Wood also states clearly that the overriding determinate of legitimate government is being indigenous, which is exactly that sort of thing. And here I thought he was a leftist I've never claimed to be a lefist, infact have stated many times i disagree with statism. These are kneejerk labels that fly off the keyboard of people on this blog because I don't support our governments interfering in other countries politics. This also would not imply that I am "in favour" of other countries doing the same thing. As we've alread discussed, soviet and chinese involvement in Vietnam was far less than that of the US which was directly involved in possibly the largest bombing campaign in history. You did try to argue that they involvement was roughly equal, but this is utterly false. Communism is not the only type of government that has been enforced by violence, this seems to be something that is utterly alien to you funnily enough. Indeed all of the European empires maintained their colonies by force. What I, and I suspect many vietnamese, would object to is the decision, taken on their behalf, by the US, that self determination will involve a government of our choosing. The US did not have political influence in the country - that is why they lost the war. They didn't really lose anyway in the sense that militarily they were winning. But they had no popular support. This was and is the problem for the US as they embark on moral crusades in the post colonial age. To blame "the left" for misguided foreign interventions not working out as planned is ridiculous. You still fail to comprehend our point of view. Not one person here has advocated this position. Beg your pardon. An unpopular US puppet if you prefer. There is no such thing as self determination in North Korea, China, or Cuba. Communism has always been imposed by force, and maintained by force. There is little evidence to suggest that the French rulers of vietnam were more concerned with the state of the country than that nationalists who deposed them. The US backed colonialism in this case, something that appears to go against all that it has stood for in the post war world.
Brit Monday, 19 February 2007 at 05:05
These days 'leftism' in the Anglosphere just means anti-Americanism, valuing intentions over outcomes and the assumption that your opponents are motivated by greed or malice. You qualify on all counts, Steven.
Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 09:11
Mr. Wood; bq. I’ve never claimed to be a lefist, infact have stated many times Yes, my mistake. Although Brit does make an excellent point. bq. soviet and chinese involvement in Vietnam was far less than that of the US I have consistently strongly disagreed with that. But even if true, the fact that the USSR / ChiCom involvement _preceeded_ that of the USA puts the moral onus on the former. bq. What I, and I suspect many vietnamese, would object to is the decision, taken on their behalf, by the US, that self determination will involve a government of our choosing But they don't object to such a Soviet / Chinese decision? It is not me who is making the distinction about imposing governments by force and violence, it is you who is making an exception for Communism. Again I ask, why is that? bq. The US did not have political influence in the country - that is why they lost the war No, the USA and South Vietnam lost the war because the USA abanonded its ally while the USSR / China did not.
You still fail to comprehend our point of view. Not one person here has advocated this position.
Beg your pardon. An unpopular US puppet if you prefer.
No one has advocated that, either. What has been consistently advocated is a result just like South Korea or Taiwan. Your inability to grasp this point is why you make statements so divorced from reality like this -- bq. The US backed colonialism in this case Yes, just like we did in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philipines,, Japan ... perhaps you would like to provide a counter example so your statement is not completely and utterly without evidence?
Steven Wood Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 14:42
bq. valuing intentions over outcomes and the assumption that your opponents are motivated by greed or malice. First up Brit - you write a lot of nonsense at the best of times, but I wonder how many people who call themselves "left" would consider that they are motivated by "intentions over outcomes" or a belief that anyone who does not agree with them are greedy or evil. When you say "the anlgoshpere", what infact you mean is the collection of blogs you like to read. Lets make one thing quite clear, anyone who valued outcomes over intentions would not have waged ill advised wars in Iraq and Vietnam without the popular support of the "liberated" would they ? The consistent argument offered throughout this discussion has been that the Vietnamese would have been better off under a government which the US supported. The same is said to be true of the Iraqis, for whom life free of saddams tyranny is something they should be thankful to the US for. The gulf between "outcomes and intentions" in these situations is something you ought to consider before writing something which is not only not "an excellent point" but infact utter rubbish. bq. I have consistently strongly disagreed with that. But even if true, the fact that the USSR / ChiCom involvement preceeded that of the USA puts the moral onus on the former. AOG - you cannot seriously claim that the US involvement in the vietnam war, which was direct, and which involved dropping over 300,000 tonnes of explosives and 10,000,000 gallons of chemicals was equivalent to Chinese. To claim that the USSR and China were directly involved on the same scale as the US is to ignore completly the evidence. But nothing new here. Lets keep this simple. The chinese began helping the Viet Minh fight the French in 1950, communists not coming to power there of course until 1949. The Viet Minh were not tools created by the Chinese. Nor were the Viet Cong tools created by the North Vietnamese regieme. They existed in the south, as remnants of the viet minh, nationalists first and communists second. TThe fact is that they existed as a nationalist movement before the chinese helped them fight the french. The US were in the meantime supplying weapons to the French to help them fight the Viet Minh, scared that a communist victory would result once China began helping, as it was supposed that they would. For you to state, as fact, that the Chinese were helping the viet minh before the US were supporting the French in the first war, is again dubious and historically innacurate, like so much of what you write as "fact". The two in actual fact occurred almost as soon as the Chinese communists came to power. bq. But they don’t object to such a Soviet / Chinese decision? It is not me who is making the distinction about imposing governments by force and violence, it is you who is making an exception for Communism. Again I ask, why is that? The reason, as i stated many times before, repeatedly ignored by you, is beacause Ho Chi Minh was regarded by most vietnamese as a national hero who liberated them from French colonial rule. Even eisenhower said as many as 80% of the Vietnamese people would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, as the popular hero of their liberation, in an election against Bao Dai. That's why there were no elections. So AGAIN I tell you the elections were delibarately stopped because the outcome would have been unpalatable. The decision would have been their own were they allowed to make it. bq. Yes, just like we did in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philipines,, Japan … perhaps you would like to provide a counter example so your statement is not completely and utterly without evidence? AOG, the difference is that the regiemes they left behind in these countries were not competing for popular opinion with a strong nationalist movement. They had legitamcy. I don't regard the countries you list as imperial possesions of the US in the way that Vietnam was a colony of France. I think most americans would be horrified if they thought that US post war occupation of Japan was exactly equivalent to the French rule in Indochina. Come off it. I repeat, in this case the US backed an old fashioned European empire, France. They didn't do that in Japan or south korea etc. This is not so hard to follow really if you apply a bit thought to it.
Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 15:19
Mr. Wood; bq. anyone who valued outcomes over intentions would not have waged ill advised wars in Iraq and Vietnam without the popular support of the “liberated” would they Are you not proving Brit's point, since the American involvement in the Vietnam War was a project of the American Left (JFK, LBJ)? I am also not going to defend the French occupation of IndoChina. You are again making things up, since I have not mentioned it previously yet there you are, claiming I have. I was comparing the _American_ occupation of Vietnam to the _American_ occupation of Japan and Korea. American involvment in Vietnam prior to the departure of the French was miniscule, making it irrelevant to any discussion of the purposes, goals, and likely results of the overall American involvement. That you feel the need to drag that in demonstrates the weakness of your position. Moreover, the basis of this discussion was the fall of South Vietnam, so the relevant situation was that of the early 1970s, when American troops were withdrawn from South Vietnam. At that time, the Viet Cong had ceased to exist and there was no nationalist movement contesting the South Vietnamese government then.
Brit Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 04:05
Steven: you write a lot of nonsense at the best of times, but I wonder how many people who call themselves “left” would consider that they are motivated by “intentions over outcomes” or a belief that anyone who does not agree with them are greedy or evil. I'd have thought none of them. And I write a lot of nonsense at the worst of times, too.
Peter Burnet Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 07:32
Mr. Wood: When you say “the anlgoshpere”, what infact you mean is the collection of blogs you like to read. Your spelling is atrocious, but you definitely gets points for wit. Well-played, indeed. Too bad we'll still have to kill you when we take over the world.
Tim Berners-Lee Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 19:19
From the New York Times, February 22, 2007, "Korean Men Use Brokers to Find Brides in Vietnam", by NORIMITSU ONISHI, with additional reporting by Su-hyun Lee, all emphasis added:
The road out of Hanoi [...] eventually narrowed to two lanes crisscrossed frequently by cows. Farther out, farmers could be seen working the soil by hand. [...]

“If a man has only a high school degree, or lives with his mother, or works only at a small- or medium-size company, or is short or older, or lives in the countryside, he’ll find it very difficult to marry in Korea.” [...]

“Now, even a disabled Korean man can find a Vietnamese bride.” [...]

Nguyen Thi Nguyet, 56, said: “This is a poor country, but conditions are much better in Korea. I hope my daughter will have a better life there.”

THIRTY-TWO YEARS after the Communists liberated South Vietnam from American oppression, farmers are essentially large-scale gardeners, and Vietnamese women line up to become the prostitute-wives of the lowest men in South Korean society. What a paradise on Earth. Why, who could doubt that Communist leadership has been the best possible option for the lucky Vietnamese peoples ? Meanwhile, in South Korean, (which was unfortunate enough to remain firmly under the hegemonic bootheel of the United [in oppression] States, despite the heroic and popularly-supported efforts of the Chinese), women are so well-off that they turn down stable guys with jobs, just because said men aren't highly-paid executives with movie-star looks.
Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 22 February 2007 at 19:41
bq. "One thing Sheikh Sattar keeps saying is he wants al-Anbar to be like Germany and Japan and South Korea were after their respective wars, with a long-term American presence helping ... put them back together," MacFarland said. "The negative example he cites is Vietnam. He says, yeah, so, Vietnam beat the Americans, and what did it get them? You know, 30 years later, they're still living in poverty." [["source":http://alphabetcity.blogspot.com/2007/02/ramadi-shaykhs-in-no-hurry-to-see.html]]
Steven Wood Sunday, 25 February 2007 at 04:32
bq. I am also not going to defend the French occupation of IndoChina. You are again making things up, since I have not mentioned it previously yet there you are, claiming I have. I was comparing the American occupation of Vietnam to the American occupation of Japan and Korea. American involvment in Vietnam prior to the departure of the French was miniscule, making it irrelevant to any discussion of the purposes, goals, and likely results of the overall American involvement. That you feel the need to drag that in demonstrates the weakness of your position. You have said that the regieme the french left in power, and the one which the US backed was more popular amongst the south vietnamese than Ho Chi Minh was. The US supplied arms to the french to prevent the north vietnamese from gaining independance from the french. I thought you would have known that, but now I think of it I don't know why I would have thought it. Either you are for that or against. So, as you are now saying, you were against it but you were also against nationalists freeing vietnam from the french, not forgetting this nationalist group were around fighting the french before communist china even existed !! You make no sense to me.
Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 25 February 2007 at 07:50
bq. You have said that the regieme the french left in power, and the one which the US backed was more popular amongst the south vietnamese than Ho Chi Minh was. No. The North Vietnamese government is just as much "the regime the French left in power" as the Diem government. Both arose as part of the departure of the French. I have not claimed it was more popular, I have disputed your claim that it wasn't. These are not the same thing. bq. The US supplied arms to the french to prevent the north vietnamese from gaining independance from the french. Yes, but I fail to see the relevance. France was nominally an ally at that time and it would have been bizarre to not sells arms to such. I think that once again your problem is your inability to assign moral agency to any nation except the USA, in this case France. bq. you were also against nationalists freeing vietnam from the french No, I was (and am) against a Communist take over of Vietnam by a leading member of the ComIntern, backed by Communist regimes in China and the USSR, conquering Vietnam from the French under a false claim of being nationalist. I thought you would have known not to trust Communist propaganda, but now I think of it I don't know why I would have thought it. Either you are for Communism or against. bq. this nationalist group were around fighting the french before communist china even existed Longevity is not evidence for being nationalist. One might also note that Communist China didn't magically appear on 1 Oct 1949, it existed as a de facto government over much of China well before then.
Steven Wood Monday, 26 February 2007 at 14:16
bq. Yes, but I fail to see the relevance. France was nominally an ally at that time and it would have been bizarre to not sells arms to such It wouldn't have been bizzare at all given the the USA declared themselves to be against empire at the time, and FDR was set against the Europeans clinging to their empires. On the contrary, actually going against that claim because you only value nationlism that isn't also communist, and supressing elections that may have lead to a communist victory in is slightly bizzare. bq. I have not claimed it was more popular, I have disputed your claim that it wasn’t. These are not the same thing. Either they were more popular with the south vietnamese or they weren't. Either the claims of the army generals and Eisenhower that the south vietnamese would have voted for minh who they saw as a hero who liberated them from the french (leaving aside the correctness of that view) are true (which explains why the south and the US prevented elections) or they are false. Your contention that Minh was not motivated by nationalism at all is spurious.
Annoying Old Guy Monday, 26 February 2007 at 15:20
bq. It wouldn’t have been bizzare at all given the the USA declared themselves to be against empire at the time, and FDR was set against the Europeans clinging to their empires Yet the USA sold arms to the UK after WWII, before they gave up their Empire. You are letting your utopianism get in the way of understanding how foreign policy works. In fact, it was American pressure that was to a large extent responsible for France abandoning Indochina. bq. Either they were more popular with the south vietnamese or they weren’t. Either cjm has a maple tree in his backyard, or he doesn't. Which is it? Just answer "yes" or "no", no equivocating. When you figure out why that's difficult for you to do, you will know what my point on this matter is. bq. Your contention that Minh was not motivated by nationalism at all is spurious. Why? First off, I have not claimed "Minh was not motivated by nationalism *at all*", I have claimed it wasn't his first priority or that of his front organization. Second, I have presented information about how he was out of the country for decades beforehand, how he was engaging in Communist politics in other countries, training in foreign countries, was in the pay of foreign powers, and was a leading participant in an organization (the ComIntern) explicitly devoted to the eradication of nationality, in support of my contention. You have cited Minh's own propaganda in support of yours, the propaganda of a totalitarian who ruthlessly suppressed all dissent. And here we touch on a key point that most disappoints me when arguing with you -- it's not that you are skeptical of American actions, but that you are so deeply *unskeptical* about those of any other person or nation.
Annoying Old Guy Monday, 26 February 2007 at 15:25
Just to clear out some old brush, let me state forth rightly that I support the decision to not hold elections in Vietnam shortly after the French left. I think that was in the best interests of the Vietnamese and a reasonable action of American foreign policy. I think it was the best of a bad set of options, not in itself laudable but only less wrong than the alternatives available at the time. I believe that do to the actions of the USSR, China, and the Viet Minh, true self determination was not possible then and that the American action was acknowledgement of that and *not* the act that took that away from the Vietnamese (although one might argue it was more the fault of the French than the Viet Minh, which I might well concede because French-bashing has a long history at this weblog).
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