Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Friday, the news our group focused on primarily from Iraq was that the 172nd Stryker Brigade was not coming home, that the Bully Boy's vague noises about a few troops coming home were revealed as more weasel words hoping to persuade a nation that, despite the news from Iraq, things were a-o-k.

We took those events and compared them to the war we lived through many, many years ago: Vietnam.

We made comparisons. Such as Dick Cheney's laughable attempts to silence criticism of today's illegal war by saying those who criticize are aiding terrorists, soft on terrorism and the many other smears. We wondered whether the Democratic Party is uninformed, historically ignorant or just bound and determined not to make waves?

Vice President Cheney's attacks, and the attacks of others in the administration, are not surprising, nor are they new. February 1972, H.R. Haldeman says critics of Tricky Dick's so-called "peace plan" are aiding the enemy. We talked of all the nonsense about that so-called peace plan, such as the fact that as early as 1969 it was being accepted at face value as was Nixon's claim, 1969, that the North Vietnemese were the obstacle.

Year after the year, Nixon made noises of a peace plan and, year after year, the war dragged on.
He used terms like "Vietnamization." Bully Boy does not use that term but he uses the same plan. Nixon swore peace was just around the corner and, via Vietnamization, US troops would be able to come home, just as soon as they had trained the South Vietnemese and just as soon as the South Vietnemese were up to the task.

For instance, Nixon spoke of that in January, 1972. Dot remembers it well, it was the day of her son's second birthday. She spoke of how, even though she was against Nixon, as she found herself trying to ice the cake, too soon so sections of the top were coming off, hearing his "six months" bandied about, and thinking, "Okay, the war is going to end." January 25, 1972.

There was the eight-point "peace plan" of May 1969. There was always talk of a "peace plan" and the war went on, day after day, American and Vietnemese losing their lives, but always the talk of "peace" coming out of the White House, always the false promises.

We spoke of how "Vietnamization" was actually started by LBJ. We wondered how many people hearing Bully Boy's empty words that the troops would come home as soon as the Iraqi forces were trained and security was, bit by bit, turned over to them, flash backed to Nixon or LBJ? Remembered those days and the encouragment some found in those words that never did pan out.

They were never meant to produce results of that kind. Their intended result was to lull the American people into thinking the White House had a plan, the White House was interested in ending the war, and that this would happen shortly but be patient.

When people look back on Vietnam today and wondered how the war managed to last so long, those empty words, intended to lull a nation into complacency, were part of it.

So all these years later, when most of us thought that our country had learned some lessons and we would be spending these "golden years" in peace, we instead find our country once again caught in a war of its own making, once again being counseled to be "patient" and to realize it is a slow process. Yes, illegal wars often are a slow process.

So the question we wanted to take from our Friday meeting was, "Do you know about Vietnamization?" We wanted to take that question back to our families and see how many remembered those earlier days of false promises meant to lull the people into accepting the continued killing and dying, the continuation of an illegal war?

Grabbing at a window of time, I called C.I. Saturday afternoon and said the report could be posted as I had e-mailed but I thought I might have something to add. I do. Most of our childen and the majority of our grandchildren really do not grasp this. A few times, some have heard "Vietnamization" with regards to Iraq but they have not heard it explained. So this is what I have to add: If you lived through that time and you remember it, do not make a sentence comparing the two and think the people you are speaking with grasp what you are talking about.
What we have found is that most of the people who nod think you are just talking about the fact that Nixon claimed we would be out when the South Vietnemese could secure the country. That is it only in the broadest sense. They are not aware that this 'promise' began shortly after Nixon took office, that it was regularly presented to the people as a 'peace plan' and for two terms, granted he did not complete his second term, Nixon tried to use it to lull a weary people into a sense of false hope.

There was no plan. Nixon had no plan. Vietnamization was not a plan. He did not even come up with it, LBJ gets blame for that. But that "plan" was no doubt the "plan" when the US first went into Iraq. It is not a plan for ending a war. It is a plan for continuing one. As long as Bully Boy promotes this "plan" today, there is no real plan. The "plan" is the same one he invaded Iraq with. It is over three years later, countless lives later, and the "plan" that will allow US troops to come home is the same "plan" that would have allowed it when the illegal invasion began.

Three years later, as Iraq has spiraled into chaos and violence, he has no new plan. He has no way to adapt. He may not want to. He is being stubborn and sticking with the original "plan" not looking at changes on the ground and rethinking.

The troops do not come home under this "plan." During Vietnam, this "plan" never brought the troops home. The only thing that ends the war, is the American people demanding that it end.
Accepting that a non-changing plan is somehow reason to trust a leader is being foolish.

Again, if you lived through that earlier era and remember it, please share it with the people you know. Please make sure they grasp that it is not just that it is a similar "plan" that Nixon and Bully Boy offered, but that Nixon offered it over and over throughout his time in the White House. It did not bring the troops home in 1969 and the troops did not come home under Nixon at all. Nixon resigned in 1974. The troops were still in Vietnam.