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Reply to commenter Marian Hennings

Reader comment on item: Profs Who Hate America
in response to reader comment: Vietnam a different case

Submitted by Chris B. (Canada), Jul 26, 2003 at 05:14

Although I appreciate your opinion and find it commendable that you've actually given the situation some thought (thinking is somewhat of a scarce resource nowadays), I find some of your attitudes are somewhat unfounded.

First, the Viet-Nam and Iraqi conflicts are not as unlike as you'd think. Here are some similarities:
-American troops are deployed in large numbers in a foreign country to fight "a regime" or the supporters of such a regime which use guerrilla tactics; i.e. rather than fighting as uniformed soldiers, the ennemy may appear as a civilian.
-The smaller battle is part of a greater "ideologically based" war. Viet-Nam as part of the Cold war/Red Scare, Iraqi war and the war on terrorism.
-Both wars caused intense protest in the US.

Second, you claim that "This has nothing to do with the current situation, in which our territory was attacked and our citizens killed". It isn't absolutely clear how big a role, if any, Saddam Hussein and/or the Iraqi government had in the 9/11 attack. Even if it is proven that Saddam Hussein and/or the Iraqi government did have a major role in the operation, that still wasn't the declared reason for war, which was, as you know, weapons of mass destruction. Thus, claiming that Iraq attacked the US and killed its citizens isn't a really valid argument supporting the war, since it wasn't the condition under which the US declared war.

Third, you said that "Lumping all these disparate situations together weakens your argument and makes the U.S. look as if it cannot admit a mistake". I agree that the US might be able to admit a mistake, but history has shown that it hasn't really been able to "learn" and improve" the context of its meddling other nations' affairs.

Fourth, you state that "All countries make mistakes; ours is no different, but the consequences of our mistakes are greater because of our power and influence in the world". Although it is true that all countries make mistakes, American mistakes tend to yield high amounts of casualties, many civilian, in foreign countries. I often like to compare the US to the British Empire, because if you want to talk about "power and influence in the world" there is no better example than the Empire upon which "the sun never set". One of the darkest hours of the British colonial presence in India aside from the Sepoy Mutiny is the Amritsar massacre; a massacre in which a british military officer order the shooting of about three hundred civilians gathered at a peaceful ralley. Notice that it is even refered to by the british as a "massacre". During the American invasion of Panama, an invasion for the extradition of President Noriega, the US employed its new stealth fighters and bombers, which had been develloped to fight against the mighty Russia in the cold war, and cast them upon little Panama, a country with barely enough military ressources to destroy a WWII fighter plane. The civilian casualties are estimated at a minimum of 3000 (it is hard to get an accurate body count when most of the bodies are dismembered due to bombing but people actually did go through the gruesome task of counting each body part and then calculating the amound of bodies they could have come from). Still, this invasion is considered an "invasion" not a "massacre". Also the amount of Viet-Namese casualties from the Viet-Nam war varies in the millions, because no one bothered to count the bodies when they were Viet-Namese bodies.

Fifth, you state that "Just because we were wrong to involve ourselves in the internal affairs of Vietnam, Iran, and Guatemala does not mean we are wrong to combat the current threat that we face from Islamic fundamentalists". Although, those responsible for the 9/11 attacks might have claimed that they are "Islamic", their actions of terrorism and murder defy the very teachings of the Koran which means that their actions are not motivated by a fundamentalist approach to Islamism, but that they are politically motivated and falsely claim that they acting under the Islamic faith. Also, the current war isn't a "war on Islamic Fundamentalists", it's a war on terrorism which happens to take place in an area of the world where the leading faith is Islam. When the Japanese fought against the U.S. and the allies in the 2nd world war, they weren't fighting a "war on Christianity" even though Christianity was and still is the leading religion in the allied countries.

Sixth, you state that "One objection I have to the influx of Muslims is that they will unite with fundamentalist Christians in this country to try to take away freedoms many of us cherish". Given that I am currently studying at Florida State in Tallahassee, Fl, I can say I've seen my share of Christian fundamentalism or "conservatism" to be politically correct and I can say that beyond the shadow of a doubt that conservative Christians will NEVER unite with Muslim fundametalists, for many Christian conservatives I've encountered consider Muslims in general as heathens, who abide by a religion created by satan. Second, I don't see how these "fundamentalists" will take away our freedoms since the Christian one's haven't been having much success. Although there are fundametalists Christians in the US who don't think you should be able to chose any religion other than their own or get an abortion or be a homosexual, those are still liberties that the American people possess.

And last, you state that "I fear that if we keep letting people into our country who do not share our values, we will eventually be having repression and religious riots here". So what do you suggest? That all immigrants be screened for their "values" and that if they don't correspond we should refuse their entrance? Earlier you said that you feared that the Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims would unite to "take away freedoms many of us cherish"; isn't choosing your own values/religion a freedom that you cherish? In the US, individuals have as much right to be against abortion as you have to be for it and they have as much right to be conservative Christians or Musilms as you have to choose your own faith or abscence thereof. I think you are being too paranoid about immigrants; the US is such a big country with a big population, it would take an unfathomable influx of muslims before they can start "repressing" the US!

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