Saturday, September 23, 2006


Iraq Isn't Vietnam — It's Cambodia

Historian Steve Conn makes the case in the Philadelphia City Paper (via the invaluable History News Network) that what we're doing to Iraq is a lot like what Nixon did to Cambodia.

Historical analogies should never be drawn too tightly, but as Iraq descends further into fratricidal violence, it may be Cambodia, rather than Vietnam, that Iraq will come to resemble. And the Cambodian experience should make us feel even more grim about the mess we have made in Iraq. Cambodia's fragile neutrality began to unravel in 1969 when President Nixon ordered secret — and almost surely illegal — bombing raids on Cambodia in his effort to chase North Vietnamese troops hiding across the border.... In 1975, at virtually the same moment Americans left Vietnam, Khmer Rouge forces entered Phnom Penh triumphant. The Khmer Rouge, under its leader Pol Pot, flew into a systematic, prolonged, genocidal rage, as it took its revenge against former opponents, imagined enemies and ordinary Cambodians for no reason at all.
Arguably illegal? Check. Targeting a country that isn't the real enemy? Check. Creating anarchy and mass murder in a previously stable country? Check. And one more similarity:
And both invasions have had the effect of strengthening the position of our purported enemies. By rescuing Cambodia from Pol Pot, Vietnam, the country we fought bitterly for more than decade, wound up exercising control over Cambodia for a generation. In the absence of a legitimate, widely supported government in Iraq, it doesn't take too much imagination to see Iran, the major menace in the Middle East, marching in overtly or covertly to provide the stability and order in Iraq that Americans clearly can't.
Heckuva job, Bushie.
A-yep. And there's also a similarity in that both countries were attacked in efforts to conquer them and turn them into staging areas for the projection of US military power. Both efforts have failed.
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