Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Turning Iraq into Vietnam


Desperate to shore up support for continuing his unpopular war on Iraq, George W. Bush drew an analogy with Vietnam when he addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The price of America’s withdrawal [from Vietnam] was paid by millions of innocent citizens,” Bush declared. But he overlooked the four million Indochinese and 58,000 American soldiers who paid the ultimate price for that imperial war. And the myriad Vietnamese and Americans who continue to suffer the devastating effects of the defoliant Agent Orange the U.S. forces dropped on Vietnam. The 10 years it took to end our war there claimed untold numbers of lives.

Bush cited the “killing fields,” referring to the more than one million Cambodians who died after we pulled out of Vietnam. He failed to mention that if Richard Nixon had ended the war by 1969, as the antiwar movement was demanding, the war wouldn’t have extended into Cambodia. Secret U.S. carpet bombing of Cambodia destroyed that country, enabling Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come to power. Nixon, too, had warned of a bloodbath in Vietnam to justify continuing his war.

Contrary to the picture Bush painted, Vietnam is a unified, stable country that doesn’t threaten the region; it has become a trading partner of the United States.

In his desperation to rationalize the death and destruction he is wreaking in Iraq, Bush credited the United States with the great progress South Korea and Japan have made. He didn’t say that the people of North and South Korea seek to reunify their country but the United States stands in the way. And Bush neglected to add that his government is pressuring Japan to repeal Article 9 of its Peace Constitution which now forbids the aggressive use of military force.

George Bush also reiterated that Iraq is “the central front” of the war on terror. But for his invasion, war and occupation of Iraq, however, al Qaeda wouldn’t be there.

Bush claimed “our troops are seeing this progress that is being made on the ground.” Perhaps the President didn’t read the elegant op-ed that seven infantrymen and noncommissioned officers penned in the New York Times last week. “The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefield in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework,” they wrote. The soldiers noted the two million Iraqis in refugee camps and close to two million more who are internally displaced. “Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence.”

The only reason we stayed in Vietnam as long as we did was to avoid the U.S. superpower from being perceived as the “loser.” American involvement in Vietnam finally ended because our soldiers refused to fight, our people took to the streets in record numbers, Nixon was weakened by his impending impeachment, and the North Vietnamese–unlike the government in the South–won the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.

Congress has no more will to end the Iraq War than it did the Vietnam War. It was one year after our troops came home that Congress finally cut the funding for all support of the South Vietnamese government; Nixon didn’t veto the bill because he needed insurance against impeachment. There is no substantial support in Congress or among the leading presidential candidates to bring all the troops home and disband the mega-bases Bush has built in Iraq.

Resistance to the Iraq War will continue to grow within the military. Like the Vietnamese, the Iraqis will be instrumental in ending Bush’s war. The soldiers pegged it in their op-ed: Iraqis “will soon realize that the best way to regain their dignity is to call us what we are–an army of occupation–and force our withdrawal.”

MARJORIE COHN is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law


Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She writes, speaks and does media about human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter at @marjoriecohn.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Qaddafi
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Winslow Myers
Christopher Brauchli
Wonder Woman at the UN
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
Lee Ballinger
Tupac: Holler If You Hear Him
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”
October 20, 2016
Eric Draitser
Syria and the Left: Time to Break the Silence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Extreme Unction: Illusions of Democracy in Vegas
Binoy Kampmark
Digital Information Warfare: WikiLeaks, Assange and the US Presidential Elections
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Bogus History Lesson
Bruce Mastron
Killing the Messenger, Again
Anthony DiMaggio
Lesser Evil Voting and Prospects for a Progressive Third Party