Monday, November 20, 2006
history rears up to spit in your face:
From the WTF files, New York Times edition:
Diem went on to become a highly effective national war leader. When, in August 1963, he suppressed challenges to his authority from another religious group, he again experienced an upsurge in prestige. Some American officials and journalists, however, denounced him for what they mistakenly saw as counterproductive heavy-handedness, and the officials prodded South Vietnamese generals into overthrowing him.
Huh? This is a Marine Corps University professor describing Bizarro Vietnam. What upsurge in "prestige" did Diem enjoy after supressing the Vietnamese Buddhists? From his wife? His brother? If Diem was such a "highly effective national war leader," why did the Viet Cong increasingly snatch his territory? Neil Sheehan, I gotchyer next op-ed right here.

It gets even more fanciful. This distortion of history about Vietnam is supposed to inform current Iraq policy -- in sum, to allow Nouri al-Maliki to "crush" the Shiite militias.

Just as Diem established himself because Eisenhower let him participate unhindered in a Darwinian struggle, we should give Mr. Maliki the chance to restore order as he sees fit, provided his government does not try to suppress the insurgency through wholesale violence against Sunni civilians, as some fear it will.

If we pull back our troops temporarily and let Mr. Maliki deal with Iraq’s problems using Iraqi forces, we will be able to determine more quickly whether he can save his country as Diem saved his in 1955. We will see whether he has the political skills to cut deals with local leaders, the support of enough security forces to suppress those who won’t cut deals, and the determination to prevent the obliteration of the Sunnis.

Hey fella: Maliki is beholden to the militias. The police are the militias. Much of the army is the militias. It ain't Maliki that will survive a battle royale with the militias, which goes a long way toward explaining why he's not seeking one. The insurgency provides a different set of problems: Maliki is happy to suppress and marginalize and murder the Sunnis in the name of counterinsurgency. G'head, professor, make his day. Dude, if Diem is your idea of a "highly effective national war leader," Maliki is George Washington.

--Spencer Ackerman
A Marine Corps Academy professor? Elvis wept.

Of course, it's not like the military's institutional amnesia about Vietnam is recent news.

Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-champions, you'll get yours.
Blogger Doctor Memory | 11:11 PM

give 'em hell spencer!

don't they read the best and the brightest?
Blogger Razib | 12:53 AM

Yeah, the thing about Maliki actually working for the hard-line Shiites kinda threw me off this guy's advice too.
Blogger Xanthippas | 3:47 PM

And it must be said, Diem did not save his country in 1955- if he had, he would have agreed to the elections that were supposed to be held. In actual fact he knew he'd lose an election, and refused to allow them to be held- dividing his country and then handing it over to the Americans to do with as they wished. Which eventually included disposing of him.

A lesson to us all, I'm sure.
Blogger serial catowner | 7:37 PM

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