Tales From the Nixonian Crypt

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I half-suspected
NPR to exhume Henry Kissinger (he is dead, isn't he?) the
other day when they did a promo about a story on "Iraqization,"
but no, they spared us the sonorous tones of Doctor
Strangelove
, only to give us his pin-headed sidekick, former
Nixon Defense Secretary, Melvin Laird.

Since it's
clearly too much to expect National Pentagon Radio to invite an
eminent, independent historian onto our airwaves to explain the
likely pitfalls of Bush's plan to hand over Iraq to our hand-picked
Iraqis, it falls to the Itinerant Scribbler Corps to put Laird's
interview
into historic perspective.

"Eventually
we have to get out as soon as our job is done…" Laird began,
omitting, of course, any mention of exactly what that job
might consist of… Finding WMD's? Freeing Iraqis from despotic torture
chambers? Militarily securing a strategic, oil-rich region?

"…But
we can't walk away from the conflict now," he cautioned. "We
will be able to start withdrawal of our forces as the Iraqi forces
come into readiness…Just because we get our force level down in
Iraq doesn't mean we can walk away…(All together now:)…or
the losses we suffered will be in vain."

When the reporter
introduced the term "Vietnamization,"
Laird interrupted her to say eagerly, "That's a good term.
I coined that term. And it worked very well, I think."

With images
of U.S. helicopters evacuating people from the roof of the U.S.
Embassy in Saigon coming to mind, I heard the reporter counter that
perhaps in the end it didn't work. Gentleman Mel interrupted again
to say, "Vietnamization did work. I mean the forces of the
South Vietnamese were doing very well but they had to have U.S.
support to carry on the war…"

Finally, answering
a question concerning whether Bush could count on sufficient popular
support to make "Iraqization" work, Laird allowed as how
"I think we need to have more straight talk in order to show
real leadership in this field."

This is news
worth the pain of listening to a Fall pledge drive?

One would think
that having to hear that 800 number in our sleep would at least
have earned us the right to learn some basics of this Vietnamization
business: that in order to quell a growing antiwar sentiment spilling
into the streets, Nixon decided to change the color of the corpses
in Viet Nam by replacing U.S. ground troops with U.S. bombers…that
in just six months of 1972, U.S. warplanes dropped 702,000
500-pound bombs
on Viet Nam…or that 15
giant B-52's
would be shot down during the "Christmas Bombings"
that year, with nearly 100 crewmembers killed or captured.

And saints
preserve us from hearing how this history relates directly to Iraq
today.

You'll recall
how nearly every Member of Congress — Republican and Democrat alike
— was apoplectic when Representative Murtha suggested the U.S. withdraw
from Iraq?

Consider what
Murtha outlined: a force of Marines "over the horizon"
ready at a minute's notice and bombers awaiting presidential orders.
This is a script to make Bush's Iraqization look disturbingly like
Nixon's Vietnamization — and with similar results for the people
of Iraq. The color of the casualties will change and that's about
all.

We are the
occupiers in Iraq. The occupiers have created institutions
— an army, police, and paramilitary death squads among them — that
are permanently tainted by our connection to them. When our troops
eventually leave, no number of "Marines over the horizon,"
or punishing air strikes, or "battle-ready battalions"
of Iraqis will keep the occupiers' institutions in place.
Resistance, some of it undoubtedly violent, will continue until
those institutions are either removed or destroyed.

That's a bit
of a public service public radio could actually provide, and leave
Mel Laird to peddle his memoirs elsewhere.

December
3, 2005

Mike
Ferner [send him mail]
is a freelance writer from Ohio. He served as a Navy corpsman during
Vietnam and as a member of Toledo City Council. He is a member of
Veterans For Peace.

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