August 22nd, 2007
12:31 PM ET
11 years ago

Bush invokes 'tragedy of Vietnam' against Iraq pullout

Watch Bush's comments Wednesday on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) - President Bush drew parallels between the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the potential costs of pulling out of Iraq in a speech Wednesday.

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left," Bush told members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

"Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields,' " the president said.

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Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    Bush was warned that the Iraq War would be like the War in Vietnam. It’s actually also similar to the USSR Afgan War that in which the CIA relied upon Osama Bin Laden. 'Boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields,' will this also be Bush’s legacy? Unlikely. More likely it will be more like the Taliban takeover. Hopefully USA can avoid a similar fait as the Soviet Empire that being the USSR collapse.

    August 22, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. rada, Houston Texas

    oh Mr Bush... that was then today is your unmistakable legacy of death and missery in Iraq, New Orleans and the world to observe. The unmistakable legacy Mr. Bush is leaving to our children and their future by operating his War's on red ink... what a sorry excuse for a man.

    August 22, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. David, Salinas, CA

    I’m a member of the Vietnam generation. I protested the war, but I also registered for the draft and would have served if called. I won’t pretend to understand miliary strategy, but I do know something about the men of my age who had to make up their minds about another divisive American war, so let me pass on something to those who don’t remember:

    There are men who served in Vietnam with honor, like Jim Webb, Colin Powell, John McCain, John Kerry, Jack Murtha, Bob Kerry, Max Cleland and thousands more, and these men can be trusted.

    There are men who did not serve and had the courage to protest the war like Bill Clinton and me, and you can trust us too.

    But the so-called chickenhawks, the men like Dick Cheney, Trent Lott, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, George Allen, John Ashcroft, Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson who advocated sending other men off to die while cowardly hiding behind deferments and loopholes are not to be trusted at all.

    I’m sorry to even think about these issues. They bring back hard memories. (Though I’m sure mine aren’t as hard as John McCain’s.) But in these difficult times it’s important to know who we can trust and who we cannot.

    Note: Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor Mitt Romney did not serve in the military, but I don’t know their positions on Vietnam so I didn’t include them in this list. If anyone knows, please post the information.

    You can find out more about who did and did not serve here:

    August 22, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. lavelle

    Right but has Mr.bush kept count of the many innocent lives that have already died since we sent bombs over bagdad? Nah he doesnt care about the many that has already died. Nobody is listening to you dude just shut up and can it!

    August 22, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. John, Ca.

    Last time I checked the fear mongering about the 'Dominoe Effect' after Vietnem didn't happen, and now we have 'Most Favored Nation' status with Vietnam. I suspect that the same 'Politics of Fear' being trotted out to deflect criticism away from this current failed policy in Iraq will prove to be incorrect as well!

    Unless there is political will in Iraq to solve the political issues, minimal temporary military victories are meaningless and our brave service men and women are but human targets in the middle if a civil war that both sides appear to want.

    It time to start redeploying out of this civil war, and bring are overstretched military home to guard our national soil, and go after those who actually perpretrated 9/11.

    August 22, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. sentinella

    The Grovin comment is well taken as Bush has been resorting to these "prop show" speeches in front of carefully screened audiences for some time now.To me it is an absolute insult that Bush continues in attempts to justify and sell his failed Iraq policies with these incredulous appearances before the American public.

    August 22, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Let us remember that most of us voted for him in 2004 and 90% of us approved of his response to 9/11 when he was making these decisions. We got what we deserved as a democracy, I guess.

    I read yesterday about Iraqi mothers who prostitute themselves so as to buy food for their kids. We busted Iraq. It would be irresponsible of us to leave before it is fixed.

    Personally, I voted against Bush twice for Governor and twice as President. Those of you who voted FOR him, you bear considerable responsibility for the mess you've gotten the nation into.

    August 22, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Tom Klenc, McDonough, Georgia

    "Before we debate the efficacy of the Vietnam War in stopping communism from taking over the world and the Iraq War in stopping islamic jihadism from taking over the world, we need a plan for us taking over the world," said the Brain.
    "Do you want cheese with your cracker," replied Pinky.

    August 22, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. ReadBtwthlins

    That's exactly what the demorats want!

    A majical return of the 70's. When it was cool to be a drugged up anti-government hippy with no self responsiblity. Back to the very roots of our rooting progressive society. And then comes Jimmy, their other hero..

    August 22, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. TC Plainfield, IL

    I lost some respect for the VFW last year when they endorsed Peter Roskum instead of Tammy Duckworth in the Congressional race here in Illinois. Duckworth was wounded and disabled in combat in Iraq. Congressman Roskum is not a veteran of a foreign war. I have to question their judgement on that one.

    August 22, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Why isn't W down on the ranch trimming the bushes? Because he knows that Congress is feeling the heat on Iraq this August, and that sustaining the Surge next month when Betrayus reports will be a tough sell.

    August 22, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Garry Lemons, Benton, Arkansas

    Ok Mr. President. Just what part of History would you like to dredge up next and try to make yet another excuse for this muderous war you started?
    Which part of Texas do you plan to retire in, could it be in the viilage that is missing it's idiot?
    You are a sad, sad excuse of a President and will go down as the biggest JOKE this country ever had in political office.
    09 can't get here soon enough! Enough with moronic excuses from the moronic and pathetic Republican Party jesters!!

    August 22, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. John, Ca.

    Wow, what a bizzare post!

    Most of us in 2000 didn't vote for him when the election was stolen in Florida, and many of us didn't vote for him in 2004 when the election was stolen in Ohio!

    Our brave men and women of the military shouldn't have to fight and die because of your guilty feelings!

    Talk about a right-wing self-absorbed logic!

    August 22, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. N. Williams, Minneapolis, MN

    So, the young man from Vietnam who stayed at my house as an exchange student and learned the ways of American business should be considered a terrorist?

    My goodness, his staff is really reaching on this one.

    If this is his plan to get more troops over to Iraq they had better go back to the drawing board.

    We had almost 500,000 troops at one time over in Vietnam. We spent a decade fighting the Viet Cong. They lost over 250,000 troops (in combat, no one knows the number of civilian deaths) versus our 60,000. They still kept coming.

    Is that what the President wants? A war without end?

    Ironically, the analogy is apt: Iraq is another Vietnam. However, his theory about it is very flawed.

    August 22, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    I love how Bush tries to sound intellectual and always say that there is a "debate out there". He's one of those stooges who still thinks global warming is an Al Gore-contrived liberal conspiracy!
    South Vietnam did suffer when we pulled out. But, like in Iraq, we helped create the situation (with nods to the French, of course).
    Pol Pot's murderous regime received support much out of response to our illegal bombing of Cambodia. This is similar to terrorist groups receiving support due to our illegal occupation in Iraq.
    I wish the yokel pro-war mammals in this country could understand such simple cause and effect situations.

    August 22, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Consequences of pulling out of Iraq:
    1. Millions of citizens continue to be involved in sectarian violence.
    2. Citizens who have helped the US get slaughtered by anti-US forces.
    3. American dollars are essentially wasted, enemy gains valuable US technology if we leave anything behind, as Bill Richardson has suggested.
    4. Iraq becomes a state controlled by fear, new dictatorial military leader assumes control. Lets face it, the government in power fails if we leave.
    5. Said leader becomes soil owner of vast oil reserves-oil crisis anyone?
    6. US citizens left behind are toast.
    7. Islamist movement gains strength, potential hotbeds where secularist govts are losing ground may give way to these movements.

    Iraq was clearly a bad decision. We need to fix it, because we broke it. Then when its fixed, we move all of our troops out of other countries, and we let the world police itself. That means no intervention. Im sick of this damned if you do, damned if you dont attitude that the world has towards us. Fine we wont play police anymore, but dont expect us to come rushing to the aid for everything else. That means leaving Korea,Japan, Germany etc. No we arent intervening in Darfur. After all, Darfur does not represent a security risk.

    August 22, 2007 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. bret, atl, ga

    This is pure garbage, and I hope the American people realize it. There is no logical connection between the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and massacres, but there IS a logical connection between troop PRESENCE IN Vietnam and massacres that happened after withdrawal. It's that simple. US military presence creates, enlarges, and magnifies hatred. War is a conflagration, not an extinguishing.

    To Terry in El Paso – no amount of force will ever "fix" Iraq because it is a made-up country. It's a non-starter. Cheney himself predicted it would be a huge mess ... that's on YouTube, if you care to look ... in the early to mid 90s (I forget). Convenient to have a "senior moment" when the opportunity arose to project military power around the world and show folks who was boss after 9/11, there and on our own streets.

    Ron Paul is right. Look at what we have achieved in peace and trade? If it were not for our friendly (sort of) relations with China and Japan, we'd be completely broke. Pathetic, but true.

    August 22, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Yvan,Indio,CA

    Well Vietman and Irak have one thing in common! they both were unnecessary war baddly managed by Republicans. Kudos to the incapables and the liars. History seems to repeat itself.LOL

    August 22, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Although the sentiment behind Bush's statements are genuine he still pulls political shenanigans. The killing fields were in Cambodia, which were off limits "supposedly" to United States troops.

    The Vietnam conflict was supposed to be a "police action" not a war. Theoretically U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam to keep their civil war from spilling over into other nations.

    Regardless, the Vietnam conflict and the Iraqi war are drastically different situations. The only common element Vietnam and Iraq have is that the pretext for going over seas was based on fabricated and false information.

    Terry from El Paso hit the nail squarely on the head. I've read post after post about the "neo-cons" hijacking the presidency. Well hello folks, we elected that neo-con legitimately at least once. And Bush is not the first president to gain office without winning the popular vote. Our beloved Abraham Lincoln took less than 40% of the popular vote.

    We The People put that man in office. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

    August 22, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. Bill Singleton, Covina, California

    Give me a break! We were involved in Vietnam as a police action. Lyndon Johnson(another war driven Texan) kept sending over "advisors" and more and more of our people died. It is not the job of the United States of America to be the police force of the world. We need to pull out of Iraq and stop electing Texans to the White House!

    August 22, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Riaz, Jersey City, NJ

    STAYING is bad particularly when the SUREG didnt produce the expected results. LEAVING will be very bad, world will see new problems from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah. The world community should step up and solve this problem thru UN. Start heavy diplomacy, dissolve this current IRAQI government and commit UN peace keeping forces (drawn from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia) under new Iraqi appointed government control. Then go for elections in case, they provide STABILITY!!!

    August 22, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. Jordan, Raleigh NC

    The "tragedy" of our departure was scarcely equal to the tragedy of our presence in Viet Nam. Like Iraq, it was a totally unprovoked imperialistic invasion. After Iraq where will we strike?

    August 22, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. David,Roanoke,VA

    Bush has a lot of nerve to even mention Vietnam, considering he spent that time defending the skies over Texas from the Viet Cong airforce...when he could be bothered to show up for duty, that is.

    August 22, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Elizabeth Baker, Schaumberg, IL

    Our most notorious VP is pulling the strings through his puppet President. He started the war to benefit his rich industries (Halliburton, Exxon etc.) and doesn't want to end it. Thats why this fear mongering startegy to compare with Vietnam. Vietnam was disaster and so as Iraq. How much worse the situation will become with our abrupt exit? At least those who are powerful will settle the score amongst themselves and bring some peace. What was wrong when Saddam was in power? At least Shia and Sunnis were living peacefully then. When we leave, Shias will be in control of their territory, Sunnis will manage theirs, and Kurds the northern one. But, our boys will be home, and this constant drain of money and lives will stop forever.

    August 22, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "Is that what the President wants? A war without end?"

    The President is addressing the end-game in Iraq. Cut-and-run (though popular with the anti-war crowd) is irresponsible. Regardless of WHY we entered Iraq – we're there. The Iraqi people deserve to have a chance at a representative government and an organized police force to support law and order.

    If one were to evaluate the quality of comments on these blogs – it's clear many of you are EXPERTS in critiquing the President and VACUOUS when it comes to solutions.

    August 22, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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