(WOAI) SAN ANTONIO -- Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.
"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."
Either Dean is the worst student of history, or he is politically posturing. Now, lets look at Vietnam, and see what really happened:
January 20, 1961- John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th U.S. President and declares "...we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to insure the survival and the success of liberty." Privately, outgoing President Eisenhower tells him "I think you're going to have to send troops..." to Southeast Asia.
May 1961 - President Kennedy sends 400 American Green Beret 'Special Advisors' to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese soldiers in methods of 'counter-insurgency' in the fight against Viet Cong guerrillas.
December 1961 - Viet Cong guerrillas now control much of the countryside in South Vietnam and frequently ambush South Vietnamese troops. The cost to America of maintaining South Vietnam's sagging 200,000 man army and managing the overall conflict in Vietnam rises to a million dollars per day.
May 1963 - Buddhists riot in South Vietnam after they are denied the right to display religious flags during their celebration of Buddha's birthday. In Hue, South Vietnamese police and army troops shoot at Buddhist demonstrators, resulting in the deaths of one woman and eight children.
Political pressure now mounts on the Kennedy administration to disassociate itself from Diem's repressive, family-run government. "You are responsible for the present trouble because you back Diem and his government of ignoramuses," a leading Buddhist tells U.S. officials in Saigon.
November 2, 1963 – President of Vietnam removed by coup, partially supported by US and Kennedy administration
November 22, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th U.S. President. He is the fourth President coping with Vietnam and will oversee massive escalation of the war while utilizing many of the same policy advisors who served Kennedy.
November 24, 1963 - President Johnson declares he will not "lose Vietnam" during a meeting with Ambassador Lodge in Washington. By year's end, there are 16,300 American military advisors in South Vietnam which received $500 million in U.S. aid during 1963.
December 20, 1964 - Another military coup occurs in Saigon by the South Vietnamese army (This is the fourth since US involvement). This time Gen. Khanh and young officers, led by Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, oust older generals including Gen. Minh from the government and seize control.
January 20, 1965 - Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath as president and declares, "We can never again stand aside, prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and troubles that we once
February 18, 1965 - Another military coup in Saigon results in General Khanh finally ousted from power and a new military/civilian government installed, led by Dr. Phan Huy Quat. called "foreign" now constantly live among us..."
March 8, 1965 - The first U.S. combat troops arrive in Vietnam as 3500 Marines land at China Beach to defend the American air base at Da Nang. They join 23,000 American military advisors already in Vietnam.
March 9, 1965 - President Johnson authorizes the use of Napalm, a petroleum based anti-personnel bomb that showers hundreds of explosive pellets upon impact.
April 17, 1965 - In Washington, 15,000 students gather to protest the U.S. bombing campaign.
July 28, 1965 - During a noontime press conference, President Johnson announces he will send 44 combat battalions to Vietnam increasing the U.S. military presence to 125,000 men. Monthly draft calls are doubled to 35,000. "I have asked the commanding general, General Westmoreland, what more he needs to meet this mounting aggression. He has told me. And we will meet his needs. We cannot be defeated by force of arms. We will stand in Vietnam."
July 1967 - General Westmoreland requests an additional 200,000 reinforcements on top of the 475,000 soldiers already scheduled to be sent to Vietnam, which would bring the U.S. total in Vietnam to 675,000. President Johnson agrees only to an extra 45,000.
October 1967 - public opinion poll indicates 46 percent of Americans now believe U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a "mistake." However, most Americans also believe that the U.S. should "win or get out" of Vietnam. Also in October, Life magazine renounces its earlier support of President Johnson's war policies. Hanoi accuses the U.S. of hitting a school in North Vietnam with anti-personnel bombs. March on the Pentagon' draws 55,000 protesters. In London, protesters try to storm the U.S. embassy.
October 27, 1968 - In London, 50,000 protest the war. By year's end, U.S. troop levels reached 495,000 with 30,000 American deaths to date. In 1968, over a thousand a month were killed. An estimated 150,000 soldiers from North Vietnam infiltrated the South via the Ho Chi Minh trail in 1968. Although the U.S. conducted 200 air strikes each day against the trail in late 1968, up to 10,000 NVA supply trucks are en route at any given time.
April 30, 1975 - At 8:35 a.m., the last Americans, ten Marines from the embassy, depart Saigon, concluding the United States presence in Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops pour into Saigon and encounter little resistance. By 11 a.m., the red and blue Viet Cong flag flies from the presidential palace. President Minh broadcasts a message of unconditional surrender. The war is over.
Four Presidents, fourteen years, one million Vietnamese combatants and four million civilians, 58,226 American soldiers were killed
The peace agreements signed on January 27, 1973 at the Paris Peace Accords did not last for very long. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the "Socialist Republic of Vietnam". Hundreds of supporters of the South Vietnamese government were executed, thousands more were imprisoned. Saigon was immediately re-named to "Ho Chi Minh City", in honor of the former president of North Vietnam. Communist rule continues in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the present day.
This is the quickest way to actually look at the Vietnam War, and this is missing so much it is almost a disservice. Yet even here, you can something rather clearly: the comparison of Iraq and Vietnam is the equivalent of comparing a candle to a burning building.