• Susan Rice: No More Vietnams, But in a Bad Way

    June 28, 2012

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Military

    Susan Rice, our ambassador to the UN and someone on the short list to replace Hillary as SecState in 2013, continues to set new personal bests in terms of ignorant statements. Describing (in her acid riddled mind) what makes Obama’s foreign policy distinct from that of its predecessors, Rice mooed:

    We just don’t have that Vietnam hangover. It is not the framework for every decision — or any decision, for that matter. I’m sick and tired of reprising all of the traumas and the battles and the psychoses of the 1960s.

    I could just throw out the old “Those that don’t study history are doomed to repeat it” line here and hit the bar early, but Rice’s remark is so idiotic that I’ll skip happy hour for now (the sacrifices we make for country).

    Tom Ricks starts us off:

    Just because you weren’t alive during the Vietnam War doesn’t mean you won’t go down that road. I generally am a fan of the Obama administration, on both domestic and foreign policy. But the one thing that gives me the creeps is their awkward relationship with senior military officials. Mistrusting the Joint Chiefs, suspecting their motives, treating them as adversaries or outsiders, not examining differences — that was LBJ’s recipe. It didn’t work. He looked upon the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a political entity to be manipulated or, failing that, sidelined. That’s a recipe for disaster, especially for an administration conspicuously lacking interest in the views of former military officers or even former civilian Pentagon officials.

    Anytime anyone tells me that the lessons of Vietnam are irrelevant, that’s when I begin looking for a hole to hide in.

    Rice again now:

    What frustrated me about the 2004 (John Kerry) campaign was, there we were, relitigating ‘Where were you in nineteen sixty-whatever?’ as the big freaking issue between Bush and Kerry — you know, ‘Did you serve, did you not serve, what did your swift boat brothers think?’  And I’m thinking, ‘What does that have to do with me and the world we’re living in today?’ 

    Ok Susan, you ignorant bonehead, here it is:

    Vietnam echoes through everything we do because we are repeating mistakes. We should not invade countries that do not pose a threat to the US. We should not be in wars without a coherent objective. We should not create governments unsupported by their people and then kill Americans trying to prop them up. We should not spend our money and lives abroad when we have problems at home that need those resources. We should not borrow money to fund wars in ways that wreck our economy. We should not piss off the rest of the world unnecessarily with wars of choice. We should not see America’s power solely as the rampant use of military force. We should express a little more humility toward the world and be seen as a little less of a bully. We should stop inventing straw men (communists, terrorists) that feed the military-industrial complex and distract us from the real issues facing America. We should not ignore the lessons of history because they seem politically awkward in an election year.

    Bonus: We should not employ as ambassadors to the UN people so ignorant of history and so ready to throw away lessons for political positioning. You are, to paraphrase Robert Reich speaking of the Clintons, “the arrogance of power combined with the inexperience of youth.”

    Susan, this blog has spent a lot of time drawing lessons from Vietnam, so have a look before you ejaculate dumbness again.

    Related Articles:

    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Another Rice-erroni with a head of chopped liver for Secstate? That’s a real recipe for disaster.

      06/28/12 3:21 PM | Comment Link

    • William Johnson said...


      It appears to me that the Obama administration is oblivious to the fact that Vietnam is a sort of unfinished tragic comedy. They certainly should realize that their much ballyhooed pivot toward Asia would not have been necessary but for the fact that the U.S. so mismanaged the Vietnam conflict and its aftermath that we were basically kicked out of the region. Even our Thai allies (our longest-standing treaty ally in the region) gave us very short notice to close our bases and get out of the country. We also failed to manage properly our relationship with the Philippines and also lost our bases there.

      Moreover, we failed so badly with our allies and partners in Southeast Asia as to cause our allies in Northeast Asia to question our reliability as a partner. It is the threat from North Korea, and not any diplomatic wizardry on the part of the Obama administration that has brought the relationship back to a fuller partnership.

      No administration should make light of what can be learned from any conflict, and the current administration ignores the lessons of Vietnam to its detriment. One of the key lessons of Vietnam, which has direct impact at the present time, is that an all-volunteer force, while it makes for easier domestic politics by eliminating the draft, has the drawback of being much more expensive. It has the further drawback of disconnecting most Americans from even second-hand knowledge of the horrors of war or its terrible impact on those who participate. This in turn leads to a greater willingness on the part of the American people and the political leadership to turn to force to resolve issues.

      It will not be long after we wind down Afghanistan and Iraq (it may even be before we wind down Afghanistan) that the U.S. government and the American people will break faith with the troops to whom they have given so much lip service. It will start with claims that veterans need to share in the sacrifice of the nation, so their benefits should be cut to help balance the books after out of control spending on wars that were chosen by the people and the politicians–not the troops. This in turn will lead to the idea to cut force levels as an additional cost saving measure. Lip service will be given to cutting acquisitions, but Congress will not allow that, and so veterans benefits and troop levels will be cut. Both of these will lead to recruiting and retention problems, further weakening the posture of the United States on the global stage.

      Several decades from now, the Secretary of State will be trumpeting our pivot to the Middle East. For we will be out of that region at the request of governments in that region for at least a generation. We have no credibility and no friends left in the region.

      Now all of this is just how things worked in the decades following the Vietnam debacle. There is a difference between getting over a hangover and learning the lessons of the harm of repeated binges that is apparently lost on the present administration. Perhaps they fail to see the connections because, while the fog of war was clearing after our defeat in Vietnam, the fog of their stoner days was still very much in evidence. Whatever the excuse, history will not treat them any more kindly than it treats the Bush administration for their failure. Just as Johnson and Nixon are both reviled for their failures in Southeast Asia, both the Bush and the Obama administrations will be the subject of derision for their failures in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

      One can only hope that the next administration, whenever it comes along, will have people who are not so arrogant as to think history can teach them nothing. The nation faces no greater peril than to be led by people who are arrogant and willfully ignorant.

      06/28/12 6:08 PM | Comment Link

    • jim at rangeragainstwar said...


      A nice analysis, but lift and shift your fires a little.
      There’s a domestic side to this issue also.
      Look at all our internal problems resulting from all the wars since 1945.

      06/28/12 7:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Janice said...


      “…We just don’t have that Vietnam hangover. It is not the framework for every decision — or any decision, for that matter. I’m sick and tired of reprising all of the traumas and the battles and the psychoses of the 1960s.”

      This is definitely a “did-she-really-say-that?!” moment. It contradicts an earlier statement also made by Ms. Rice (but forgotten already??) per a wikipedia entry in which she spoke on the Rwanda genocide and lack of critical action on our part:

      “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

      This is the wrong profession to be in — it is really nothing but trauma, drama, and psychoses-ridden – thanks to insert name of favored global conflict. For whatever reason our officials (insert names of all parties here) seem to favour the denial tactic – as if that really will solve matters.

      Has it worked so magically well to date?? To just make believe the war/problems/conflicts/events etc did not happen. Do not acknowledge these – they will go away, yes? During the Bosnia war (occurring almost parallel with the Rwandan genocide), this type of policy approach was referred to as the ‘Duck’ policy by some foreign policy experts.

      Whether you want to call it the Duck or denial policy, it’s a ‘fail’ approach. We will always have Vietnam – unfortunately it’s there. It is constantly brought up when discussing our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s there even when we try to ignore other conflicts and problems – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Korea’s issues, missing US serviceman, Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, and Warren Weinstein, and a gzillion other matters that keep festering and increasing. It’s there too when we try to “move on” and expand trade measures with Vietnam.

      If there is anything to be “sick and tired” of, how about denying these and other problems, as well as misdefining real issues and avoiding any attempt to tackle these? It’s high time to “come down on the side of dramatic action” and do what is ethical and constructive, because we are all going to have to struggle with gnawing consciences

      06/29/12 5:16 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Rand Michael Hultz:

      Do you know him?

      He is one of those experts with military as “Officer Candidates School soon followed by advanced training in Infantry Leadership Skills, Nuclear Biological and Chemical Warfare Defense Tactics and Techniques and Military Police Operations. then one of contractor with US embassy in Baghdad then he is one of business man inside Iraq.

      Let read this guy who will educate you about:
      Mr. Hultz also seeks to enlighten the reader as to the delicate dance of politics and policy as it relates to those still missing. Finally, he seeks to broaden the everyday citizen’s knowledge and understanding of the real conditions in Iraq and how they are directly related to our failed foreign policy.

      06/29/12 10:38 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      The White House Casablanca never-ending story: “We will ALWAYS have Vietnam.”

      07/1/12 12:48 PM | Comment Link

    Leave A Comment

    Mail (will not be published) (required)