Iraq now, Vietnam then
Published Dec 22, 2008 6:02 PM
The news from Iraq is starting to remind veteran political analysts of the
events four decades ago in South Vietnam as successive U.S. puppet governments
disintegrated under the weight of tremendous popular sentiment, with a
liberation war knocking at the door.
The U.S. secret services then hatched and executed coups to remove some
discredited, inept and well-hated puppet leaders. Their replacements had not
yet exposed to the world their own corruption, favoritism and brutality that
would soon make them just as inept and well-hated. Only 500,000-plus U.S.
troops could keep them in power for more than a week.
Now in Iraq, with the continued U.S. occupation up for debate, cracks are
exposed in the puppet regime. Bush’s surprise visit humiliates him, the
occupation and the puppet leader, Nuri al-Maliki. Within days, the Maliki
faction arrests 24 high-level military security figures.
Al-Maliki’s regime leaks charges to the New York Times that those
arrested are secret Ba’athists—the ruling party in Iraq before the
U.S. invasion—who were plotting a coup.
It’s true that enough agents of the Iraqi resistance have infiltrated the
regime to track military maneuvers. But the Ba’athists, who are part of
the resistance, have said they don’t believe a coup could succeed against
the will of the U.S. occupation forces. They expect the resistance to wear down
the U.S. until its forces leave. The “plot” story, then, is
Sure enough, two days after the Times story ran, the Iraqi military dropped the
charges against the 24, calling them “patriotic officers.” It turns
out a Maliki-appointed security agency had charged and arrested the
“patriotic officers.” Instead, al-Maliki himself is now under
Because of his friendly relations with Iran, al-Maliki has lost favor in
Washington. If there is a “coup plot,” maybe the U.S. is behind
Speculation aside, there are some points—which were also true in South
Vietnam—that these events have underlined:
The puppet regime is unstable, even more than it appeared up to now, and is
torn apart by internal contradictions.
Despite all the propaganda about the U.S. “surge” working, there is
no feasible pro-imperialist government than can run Iraq without large numbers
of U.S. troops as an occupation army.
One way or another, Iraqi sovereignty will assert itself. There is no way the
Iraqi people, even though horribly damaged by the U.S. invasion and occupation,
It is impossible for the U.S. to find an Iraqi political leader who is honest,
courageous and capable to direct the puppet government. Any Iraqis with those
characteristics joined the resistance long ago.
For the U.S. anti-war movement, it is time to move more forcefully into action.
There is no way out except for the total withdrawal of U.S. forces, the
recognition of the Iraqi resistance and payment of adequate reparations to the
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