Hitchens on why Iraq is not like Vietnam....
Once again, Hitchens is crack on the money...
1. The Vietminh, later the Vietnamese NLF, were allies of the United States and Britain against the Axis during World War II. The Iraqi Baath Party was on the other side.
2. Ho Chi Minh quoted Thomas Jefferson in proclaiming Vietnam's own declaration of independence, a note that has hardly been struck in Baathist or jihadist propaganda.
3. Vietnam was resisting French colonialism and had defeated it by 1954 at Dien Bien Phu; the real "war" was therefore over before the US even landed troops in the country.
4. The subsequent conflict was fought to preserve an imposed partition of a country striving to reunify itself; if anything, the Iraqi case is the reverse.
5. The Vietnamese leadership appealed to the UN: the Saddamists and their jihadist allies murdered the first UN envoy to arrive in Iraq, saying he was fit only for death because he had assisted in securing the independence of East Timor from Indonesia.
6. Vietnam never threatened any other country; Iraq under Saddam invaded two of its neighbours and declared one of them (Kuwait) to be part of Iraq itself.
7. Vietnam was a victim of chemical and ecological warfare; Iraq was the perpetrator of such illegal methods and sought to develop even worse nuclear and biological ones.
8. Vietnam neither sponsored nor encouraged terrorist tactics beyond its borders; Iraq under Saddam was a haven for Abu Nidal and other random killers and its "insurgents" now proclaim war on Hindus, Jews, unbelievers and the wrong sort of Muslim.
9. There has for years been a "people's war" fought by genuine guerrillas in Iraq; it is the war of liberation conducted by Kurdish fighters against genocide and dictatorship. Inconveniently for all analogies, these fighters are ranged on the side of the US and Britain.
10. The Iraqi Communist Party and the Iraqi labour movement advocated the overthrow of Saddam (if not necessarily by Bush), a rather conspicuous difference from the situation in Indochina. These forces still form a part of the tenuous civil society that is fighting to defend itself against the parties of God.
11. The American-sponsored regimes in Vietnam tended, among other things, to be strongly identified with one confessional minority (Catholic) to the exclusion of secular, nationalist and Buddhist forces. The elected Government in Iraq may have a sectarian hue, but at least it draws on hitherto repressed majority populations - Kurds and Shiites - and at least the American embassy works as a solvent on religious and ethnic divisions rather than an inciter of them.
12. President Eisenhower admitted that if there had ever been a fair election in Vietnam, it would have been won by Ho Chi Minh; the Baath Party's successors refused to take part in the Iraqi elections and their jihadist allies declared that democracy was an alien concept and threatened all voters with murder.
13. The Americans in Vietnam employed methods ("search and destroy"; "body count") and weapons (napalm, Agent Orange) that targeted civilians.