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. Jeff Houston, TX

    Are you honestly suggesting we haven't caused devestation and death in Iraq since the 50's when we helped shape the country that put Saddam in power?

    The people sticking their head in the sand and ignoring the facts are the ones who suggest Bush and his father are the only ones to go to war in Iraq. We've been in Iraq for over 50 years. Bill Clinton bombed Iraq. Is he responsible for this war since he didn't solve that problem back then? Or how about Bush Sr? Is he responsible for doing the typical task of his generation, leaving today's problems to future generations.

    There's one problem in Washington...all the politicians are too old, too rich, or too self absorbed. No more hippies, no more 90 yr old businessmen, and no more lawyers.

    August 22, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Posted By 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"

    Lyndon Johnson, who got the United States into a ground war in Vietnam because of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, was a democrat.

    August 22, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Al, Burlington KS

    Of course this is another Vietnam. This is 1967 part deux. We are fighting a war that the American public does not support. That cannot be sustained for long. We are fighting for what some in Iraq see as a puppet government. That will not last. We left Vietnam only after Nixon bombed the North to the Paris peace talks. Peace was proclaimed and two years later the North took over the South. (helicopters, embassy, the whole works). The failure of both wars, what emboldened our enemies, was starting them in the first place. Both conflicts were/are destined to fail. The reasoned person would say that, given the history of Vietnam, why would we make the same mistake again. Why would we continue to fight a war that cannot and never will be won, just to see more flag draped coffins, just to be able at some point to falsely proclaim some victory? The similarities between Iraq and Vietnam are so so numerous. Train the Vietnamese/Iraqi forces. We'll stand down when they stand up. Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here. Support the troops. Promote democracy. I, for one, am as fed up with this rhetoric, as I was in my youth. You're right, Mr. President. This is exactly like Vietnam.

    August 22, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. LoserLarry

    A few million people died in Southeast Asian and a few more million will die in Iraq.

    So what.., it doesn't effect me unless I have to watch it everynight on CNN.

    August 22, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Heidi Perry, Calverton NY

    My sister and her family were able to meet with Mr. Bush after his speech. Their ticket was the death of my nephew, Spc. Matthew Murchison, on August 4, 2007. Mr. Bush was kind, compassionate and sympathetic. Regardless of your politics, and coming from a family that suffered a devastating loss, you MUST support our troops. End of story.

    August 22, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Tony of Detroit, MI

    You can teach history to a student, but that does not guarentee that they will draw knowledge or wisdom from it.
    Mr. President, you should be ashamed of yourself for demonstrating such a lack of understanding of recent history (not to mention, not so recent history). Invoking the Vietnam War as example of how to handle our presence in Iraq, is just a sad reminder of what happens when a powerful world leader allows pride to interfere with duty. When your ambitions to effect change, clash with the will of your people, and those abroad, you would do better to cite historical references that support your policies instead of those that prove how little you know and understand.
    For your mistakes, your soul may answer to a higher authority, but your legacy will be determined by those you led into a endless war of choice. If you can't be a "man" who takes responsibility for his mistakes, at least show the country and the Office in which you serve, the respect it deserves, and resign. Please, stop damaging our United States......
    ...........I'm sorry. I actually thought, for a moment, that Bush might actually read this.

    August 22, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. David, Salinas, CA

    I think this is my first time agreeing with David from Gilbert Arizona.

    Certainly both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for the Vietnam war. I worked against both Johnson and Nixon because of it.

    And while I think the debacle in Iraq is largely Bush’s war (and Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s, etc), it also had bipartisan support. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

    We’re all responsible for Iraq. It’s America’s war. But the difference is this: Only one party is trying to get us out of it.

    August 22, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Jim Musgrave, San Diego, CA

    Ironic that he was at a photo op at the collapsed bridge in Minnesota while people became homeless from the floods. Is he going to help those people when they go looking for a good mortgage loan? Fat chance! Only the rich Iraqis have homes, and Bush would love that to be the case in this country! Impeach Bush and his gang now. Congress, get some cajones.

    August 22, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Jeff Houston, TX

    Only one party is trying to get us out of it.

    Everyone wants out. Not everyone wants immediate withdrawl as certain hippies demanded in Congress. You can't just abandon these people that we've abused for 50 years.

    August 22, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    If I remember correctly, back then there was the domino theory; one nation will fall to communism then another and so on. Vietnam was one of those dominos and when it fell, guess what, no other nations fell. In fact, once we left, there was blood shed and violence but now it is one of trading partners.

    The president misses the point, we have no business being Iraq. We went there based on a lie and embellished facts. These were lies perpatrated by this president and the vp. On that alone we should leave.

    August 22, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "We’re all responsible for Iraq. It’s America’s war. But the difference is this: Only one party is trying to get us out of it." ~ David, Salinas

    This is where I would disagree. No one (not even the President) WANTS an endless war. The difference between (lack of better words) pro-war versus leave-now... is that we (pro-war) want a exit which doesn't leave Iraq dessimated – physically, politically, economically, etc. Get Iraq on it's feet, then bring the military home.

    The difference is not IF – but WHEN we bring them home.

    August 22, 2007 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  12. Lance, Monrovia, CA

    I do not have words currently to express the outrage I feel at this statement.

    George Bush is Vietnam, Watergate, Katrina, Iraq, and the Great Depression all rolled into one.

    August 22, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. Archer, San Diego CA

    Why is it that you all give Bill Clinton a free pass for draft-dodging but hammer on Bush, who at least did something? Standard liberals...

    August 22, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Rob

    GWB has doen it again...I guess we just have to put up with this idiot for a little while longer...
    He has the audacity to speak to Vetrans of Vietnam Like he has credibility. What a joke... I'm a vet and you offend me GWB... Anyway.. I guess I can see how Freddy Boy Thompson , Rudolph Guiliani, and Oven Mitt Romney look up to when it comes to crediatials.. God help us! It's called Tough talkin Chicken Hawkin

    August 22, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  15. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    Does that make George Bush this century's Lyndon Johnson?

    I think so.

    Viet Nam ruined Johnson's presidency just like Iraq ruined Bush's. The only difference is that Lyndon knew it, George still doens't have a clue.

    Is it me, or is history really repeating itself ... again?

    August 22, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. Big Ben Rock Hill SC

    Mr. Bush,

    Due to the stupidity of your arrogance we are in this quagmire that is called Iraq. You wanted this war. You campaigned for it. You made speeches around the country to get it. You made State of the Union speeches designed to get it. You sent you administration out to campaign for it. You sent your Secretary of State to the UN to campaign for it. You got and it is yours!
    Now that the reality of this stupidity is finally being seen and the people want to stop this waste of the blood, limbs and lives of some of our finest young people and the treasure of our nation and that of our children and their children you make a speech in which you try to lay some sort of guilt trip on me about what may happen if we leave.

    You make me want to puke!

    August 22, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  17. anon, San Francisco, CA

    How many times must George Bush look up
    Before he can see the sky?
    Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must he have
    Before he can hear people (Iraq people & american mothers of dead soldiers) cry?
    Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths (of american and Iraq people) will it take till he knows
    That too many people have died?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
    The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

    August 22, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    "The tragedy of Vietnam"?? O.k., people DID die after leaving Vietnam. It is widely accepted that Vietnam was a mistake in the first place. Suggesting that we should have been there even longer is moronic. It would not have changed the inevitable outcome: our departure and a communist government assuming power.
    So, fast forward to 2007. How is Vietnam doing now? It has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has good relations with the U.S., and is largely a peaceful country. It's more of a success story in the end, and was done WITHOUT the presence of the U.S.

    August 22, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  19. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    So wait ... after years of Dubya's administration telling us there is NO comparison between whats going on in Iraq and Vietnam – saying "The analogy is false" during a 4/13/04 news conference ....

    Now he's making the analogy himself?

    August 22, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. Anonymous, L.A. CA

    Nice comparisons between WWII and Cold War conflicts to guerilla warfare.

    We are fighting a purely unconventional war in the midst of a Civil War with THREE sides fighting for power.

    George is comparing apples to oranges citing other wars to justify the present one, ignoring that the war was based on a pack of lies.

    August 23, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  21. donna, Derwood, MD

    that just proves that Bush doesn't think. Everyone knew Viet Nam was a mistake....we never learned from the French...VN was always communist and take over wasn't a surprise. We do not understand the make up of the Middle East...Iraq has shown this.

    August 23, 2007 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  22. Austin Wall, Austin, TX

    It's amazing to me how people who were so adept at avoiding service in Vietnam continue to fight that war to this very day....

    August 23, 2007 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  23. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    A Canadian Perspective with no vote count.

    War is never humane or easy for those serving or their loved ones who wait and worry in the balance. It is less humame for the many innocent citizens caught in the line of fire.

    My Father served in WWII as a Sergeant on the front lines for six years along with his two younger brothers.

    I have a family member serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. My prayers for a safe return go out to him and his family daily.

    I support, honour, and admire all who are serving in Iraq but I can't support the Iraq War. In my view, it is void of any cause or reason worthy of our military's loss of life or injuries. I hold enormous gratitude for our many heroes serving in the Mid East. But I hold only disdain for President Bush and his Administration.

    I don't know much about the Vietnam War other than what I have read.

    I know those serving in WWII would have never even entertained a thought of withdrawing troops as they believed wholeheartedly they were fighting for our land and freedom. And their beliefs were justified.

    I feel Iraq is an entirely different matter. As I can't see a military end to the Iraq war. You can't wipe out ingrained religious beliefs or change mind set with mere artillery force. Therefore, I can't justify the sacrifice of our many brave men and women who unselfishly and heroically answered the call. Equally, I can't excuse President Bush for rushing troops into a war void of any valid reason, substance, or strategy. A war based only on his political needs and desires. In my mind, every military member serving in Iraq/Afghanistan/Mid East deserves much more from their leader/s. As do their families who wait for them to return.

    August 23, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  24. al, San Francisco, CA

    I only trust Bush if his two daughters also go to Iraq to fight the war. Now, many precious american young men and women are losing their lives.

    Bush is in a deep sand and is sinking fast.

    August 23, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  25. Chip Celina OH

    David in Gilbert and David in Salinas...Is that David(2),

    Certainly both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for the Vietnam war.

    Indeed, you are both on the money. !954, Eisenhower sends 'advisors' to Vietnam after the dust-up with the French. Ho-Chi Minh actually lobbied the US for support to liberate his country from French colonial rule, but we sided with our 'allies'.

    LBJ and his Texas buddies (Bechtel, Brown & Root, etc.) profited greatly from that war much like folks say Halliburton et. al. are now.

    McNamara and the whiz-kids running the war with their "measured response" was very poor implementation. Business and economic models don't fit on the battlefield.

    Have a good one,


    August 23, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
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