August 22nd, 2007
12:31 PM ET
14 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. A.Macaulay, Kennebunk, ME

    Has Mr. Bush ever read a history book? Has the fact escaped him that the aftermath of every war creates chaotic social, political, economic and above all lethal vacuums at the tragic expense, of the most innocent civilians? Even the wealthy and influential on the losing side usually manage to find their way to a neutral corner.

    And now GWB is giving the VFW—all veterans of foreign wars or overseas service (which he opted not to be a part of) history lessons? How dare he remind them that “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'."

    Forget Vietnam’s history. I suggest he start with a study of post Revolution America when about 3% of our population– almost 70,000 American “loyalists”, who had remained loyal to the British Crown, were first abused and then forced to leave for Britain, Canada and other British possessions when their land and property were confiscated by the American rebels. The fact is these American loyalist’s were the original “boat people.”

    And while Bush refuses to call what is going on in Iraq a civil war he should be also be reminded that our own post Civil War period left some states in the old Confederacy occupied by the winners for as long as five years leaving a residual bitterness through out the South that lingered for almost a century.

    Clearly Bush spent a little too much time at cheerleading practice in prep school and too much time at the frat house at Yale instead of cracking a few books. Had he done so, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten into Iraq without an exit plan in place—something he clearly forgot.

    But what really gets me as a Vietnam veteran as well as a member of the VFW and Disabled American Veterans is his gall to remind any veteran of our respective legacies of Vietnam. While we served, 1/Lt. G.W.Bush, USAFR a qualified jet pilot trained at government expense opted to sit out the Vietnam War in the National Guard. At the same time 3,322 airplanes (including 1,700 from the U.S. Air Force) and 5,086 Army helicopters were scattered from one end of Southeast Asia to the other—with about half of them with their crews still on board. What chutzpah!

    August 23, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Anonymous

    How is Vietnam doing now? It's more of a success story in the end, and was done WITHOUT the presence of the U.S.
    –Posted By Anonymous :

    Please tell that to the Vietnamese boat people still streaming out of Vietnam in search of their unalienable rights. Among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    How disgustingly easy it is for us, those that did nothing for our freedom, to judge others still suffering to gain theirs..

    August 23, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    To Jon Sacramento –

    You must be kidding. A representative democracy in Iraq? Hell will freeze over before that ever happens. They don't know what democracy is. They wouldn't know it if it hit them in the face. They despise us and with good reason. We invaded their country under false pretenses. It DOES matter how we got in there and under what circumstances. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and they presented no national security threat to our country. Since when do we go around invading sovereign nations based on trumped up intelligence and just plain lies? Bush thought he could get a cheap, easy victory and then proclaim himself the savior of our country by defeating people who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. He didn't have the stomach or the guts to pursue bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

    All we are doing is letting our brave soldiers die in vain over there, while Bush pathetically tries to save face and justify this madness. The analogy to Vietnam is particularly appropriate here, but not for the reasons that Bush stated. How many times do we have to listen to blatant lies, distortions of history and truth, before we finally understand that this president doesn't have a clue as to how to govern a country. He couldn't find his way around the block, much less make a valid comparison between Vietnam and Iraq to justify his actions. He is beyond embarrassing.

    Does anyone remember Nixon's "Peace with Honor" slogan as we took an agonizingly long time to extricate ourselves from Vietnam? More soldiers died needlessly as we tried to save face. We got into that war because of the Domino Theory. Now we know that it was nonsense. Did all of Asia fall to communism? Did we have Armageddon? The Cambodian massacres were taking place while we were in Vietnam, not as a consequence of our leaving. Bush is just trying to rewrite history by distorting what happened after we got out of Vietnam. It was the best thing we ever did, only we did it years too late and after far too many lives were lost.

    There is an apt saying, "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it". That is exactly what has happened with the war in Iraq. Bush's legacy will be the horrific mess we created in Iraq, making Al Qaeda and Iran stronger and destroying what prestige and standing we had in the eyes of the world. He can't hide from the reality of what he has done and scholars in years to come will judge his presidency harshly.

    August 23, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. SweetWilliam/WildBill

    There is at least one difference between Vietnam and Iraq. Bush had an exit strategy for Vietnam – if only for him.

    August 23, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Steve, Houston TX

    To Jon, Sacramento,

    I knew I'd find you war-mongering here, and by the way, just in case you didn't read my last post to you, I am a veteran of the Iraq war, matter of fact I'm looking at possibly heading back there soon. Who's the hat without cattle again??

    First off, it's exhausting to listen to people like you refer to this as the war "we are fighting." Yourself and who?? You've never been to war, you're not fighting this one either, my comrades and I are, so the least you can do, while you do your war-mongering is show us some respect by calling it what it is, the "war our troops are fighting."

    What makes you an expert on whether we should stay and fight in Iraq or leave anyway, what military credentials do you pocess on strategy, who told you that Iraqis even want us there in the first place?? They were better off with Saddam, at least then they could walk down their streets without fear of being blown up. You wanna be there for the long haul, why not ship yourself and kin there then and while you're at it, show the Iraqis how to form a strong democracy, something that our best generals have already said will more than likely never happen.

    Like I said before, the loudest war mongerers are the one's that have never served, read the list of such people from David, Salinas, CA, then add yourself to it. At least all had some form of flimsy excuse, what was yours??

    August 23, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Mindy ~ Chatsworth, CA

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for repeating the bogus liberal talking points when you write,

    "It DOES matter how we got in there and under what circumstances. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and they presented no national security threat to our country. "

    Mindy, would you and the anti-war crowd PUH-LEASE get your facts straight. The President NEVER said Saddam was part of 9/11. What the President did was lead a coalition of countries into Iraq to FINALLY enforce UN Resolutions 660, 661, 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, 1284, and 1441.

    How about READING resolution 1441 before jawing about 9/11 or WMDs

    But it's comforting to know YOU and your ilk would rather Saddam still be in power.

    And then you show your real depth of understanding when you say,

    "They don't know what democracy is. They wouldn't know it if it hit them in the face."

    Gee – that must be news to the millions of people in Afghanistan that voted on October 12, 2004 against threats from Al Qaeda. This must also be news to the millions of Iraqis that voted January 28, 2005 at the risk of being killed. People parading in the streets holding their ink-stained fingers in the air showing proudly showing they had voted.

    Why not take a few minutes from your tired arguments and recognize – while not perfect – our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan ARE making a difference. Maybe these changes do not matter to you or your political agenda... but it certainly means something to little girls in Afghanistan that NOW attend school and the people who no longer live under the regime of a brutal dictator.

    We owe it to the people of Iraq to formulate an exit strategy that gives them every hope of succeeding by NOT creating a political and security vacuum through your cut-and-run philosophy.

    August 23, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Steve ~ Houston,

    "What makes you an expert on whether we should stay and fight in Iraq or leave anyway, what military credentials do you pocess on strategy, who told you that Iraqis even want us there in the first place?? They were better off with Saddam, at least then they could walk down their streets without fear of being blown up. "

    Steve, you are a fraud. Had you spent 1 HOUR in Iraq you would appreciate the heroic effort being made by the REAL soldiers – attempting to keep civilians safe, kill enemy insurgents, and doing the best they can to protect their buddies – as a couple friends from my Church (damn good men) are doing over there!

    I owe no excuses or explanations to you for my views NOR do I need to explain how/why I have the right to share them. A REAL soldier would understand such freedoms. YOU are no soldier.

    August 23, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Tannim, Riverside, CA

    From Anonymous earlier, and my comments:

    "Consequences of pulling out of Iraq:
    1. Millions of citizens continue to be involved in sectarian violence."

    Already happening before a pullout.

    "2. Citizens who have helped the US get slaughtered by anti-US forces."

    Already happening before a pullout.

    "3. American dollars are essentially wasted, enemy gains valuable US technology if we leave anything behind, as Bill Richardson has suggested."

    Already happening before a pullout.

    "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."

    Already happening before a pullout. The dictator is de-facto George W Bush.

    "5. Said leader becomes soil owner of vast oil reserves-oil crisis anyone?"

    Already happening before a pullout.
    Gas at record pump prices all year, hello?

    "6. US citizens left behind are toast."

    Already happening before a pullout. Over 1000 contractors dead.

    "7. Islamist movement gains strength, potential hotbeds where secularist govts are losing ground may give way to these movements."

    Already happening before a pullout.

    As for the rest:

    "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."

    Agreed on all points but one: when is it fixed, and how will it be fixed? THAT's the crux of the problem...

    August 23, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Anna, Woodbridge, VA

    Jon – Sacramento, CA
    First of all, you might want to go to sources other than Wikipedia for your facts. Especially since they have found evidence of editing by members of the government to reflect certain views...
    It's true Bush never directly accused Saddam of being involved in the attacks of 9/11, but he implied it with the wording in his various speeches. ( And, he mentioned time and time again the WMD as justification for the invasion.
    About those little girls attending school...would those be the ones whose new school was found to have enough explosives in the foundation to blow them all to kingdom come – courtesy of the insurgents?

    August 23, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca .. here's the deal ...

    EVERY TIME you bring up resolution 141 as an excuse to go to war, I'll simply make you look like an idiot (AGAIN) by posting the following FACT (AGAIN):

    Without the "imminent threat" from those WMDs (we never found), NOBODY except Dubya and his cronies would have supported a war.


    Not congress and certainly not the American people either.

    1441 was useless as a tool without that (bogus) angle being shoved down everybody's throat.

    Even the UN didn't support using that resolution for war.

    Next time make this a bit harder for me will ya?

    August 23, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  11. nobody cares

    I thought if we learned nothing else from Vietnam what we did learn was you can't win a war without public support. Pretty gutsy for Bush to even bring Vietnam up considering he alone is responsible for this whole Iraq mess because of his lies. Still trying to gain a thread of decency to leave in his legacy, and it's not going to happen. What good has he done for the country? I can't think of anything–not one thing. He has taken away the freedom of Americans and made the United States look like an evil nation when in fact it's Bush who's evil, not the people of the U.S.

    August 24, 2007 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  12. S6 sectrion Mosul, Iraq


    I'm speaking for the soldiers in my section; that is ten of us. We read both of your comments on this blog. We do respect all american citizens opinions. The problem is peole like you supporting the war without the real facts and going off what the media and the president have to say. I have been here twice, my NCOIC three times. Here are some problems.
    1) What is the mission now? Do you realize that it has changed every rotation!
    2) The iraqi people don't want it enough otherwise there would be more cooperation in the villages. The insurgents are willing to die for their cause. They charge right at us willingly.
    3) Corruption... Do you realize how much tax money is wasted???? Someone left something about the IPs using money for personal gain. It's true !!!
    SHAME ON YOU FOR CALLING US FAKE SOLDIERS!!! At least we are here...where are you? What we don't understand is warmongers who support the war won't serve or have anyone in their family serve. Maybe we can associate you as a COWARD. WE ARE NOT SAYING THAT; that is our perception. It seems you have so much passsion for something that we feel you should join us and maybe you might have an understanding. I know the next step is your going to quote from books that you read or what you herd from the media in your defense. Or maybe even educate us since we seem to have no intellignce. Don't bother...we are not going to reply!!!
    I understand that my service to the military is to preserve your rights.
    Oh...what would be helpful is a POC and we will send you our credentials of why we can say it's time for a steady withrawal.

    August 24, 2007 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  13. Steve, Houston, TX

    To Jon, Sacramento,

    And the village idiot speaks again! I do not need your approval as a soldier, I have and continue to serve my country in war, my medals and other accolades speak louder than your vile and uncouth words. Bottom line is, you are a simple minded coward that will not put commitment where his mouth is. Grow a pair Jon and while you're at it move to Canada!

    August 24, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    TO: Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca
    From a Canadian:
    RE: Comments to Steve ~ Houston,

    Jon Write:
    "Steve, you are a fraud........"

    Jon, I have to say, You Are Way Over The Line. And you should be utterly ashamed of yourself. How dare you sitting in your cozy room in front of your computer belittle and condemn a man/men/or women who are
    sacrificing their lives daily to protect our nation's people! Including you, Jon.

    A couple friends I'm sure is all you have with your obvious lack of compassion, respect, gratitude, and loyalty to those who give there lives for the good of mankind!

    I have a family member in Afghanistan right now. And I can tell you, I don't appreciate your vile, beligerant, comments on behalf of military members one bit.

    I guess it's easy to condemn a heroe as a Fraud while safely tucked behind your computer screen. Maybe if you did a stint in Iraq or Afghanistan you might appreciate our military members who have courageously given you the freedom you use to unjustly condemn their sacrifice on your behalf. Think about that Jon.

    August 25, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  15. The Framing Wizard, LV, NV

    David, Salinas, CA and Gilbert, Arizona, The Iraq conflicts, politics are a product of economic gain and power struggles and absolutely are not any responsibility of the American people as a whole. Dick Cheney’s, Donald Rumsfeld’s, George Bush’s and do not exclude Condalisa Rice, it is all of their war; listed in order is the responsibility of those people and their think tank. Most people may not know who David, Salinas, CA and Gilbert, Arizona are, but both of you are dead wrong too put blame on the American people as a whole and you both make me want to puke! If the whole class cannot do it together, than the class cannot do it at all! Quote MR. Sue 1965.

    August 26, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Ron Nebraska

    Oh cmon! All Bush knows about vietnam is that he didn't want to fight there!

    August 26, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  17. Steve, Houston TX

    To Jon, Sacramento,

    Well there you have it Jon, you called me, a serving soldier at war, a FRAUD, not a REAL soldier. You have a right to your opinions, as do I, but what you just did is call ALL other soldiers (including the 10 from S6 section in Mosul) fighting in this war but do not believe in it, or who simply want to come home to their loved ones, FRAUDS. And that you have absolutely no right to do. We might not want to be here, hell a lot of us don't even support this whole mess, but we enlisted to serve our country, and that's what we're doing, the least you can do is show some respect for that. Shame on you over and over again Jon!! You're despicable to the point of naeusea.

    August 27, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Jon in Scaramento Ca,

    Making more friends all the time I see.


    August 27, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. William Columbus, Ohio

    Lets take a look at the real tragedy and that is how we ended up in Iraq in the first place. We have heard all the reason why from many places none of which is legitimate. 911 was about who had attacked the United States and making sure we went for the source of our attacks. But instead we diverted from the organelle act and still have not found the originator of 911 but have created a bigger problem in the world. It sadden me that we have ignored the illegal, immoral, dishonest way that we have ended up in our current situation in Iraq.

    August 29, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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