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05/08/2003 Archived Entry: "Gulf II poster"

Gulf II...the movie.

Another regime change in Iraq."Rumsfeld had handpicked retired general Jay Garner to oversee the occupation and report to Centcom commander, General Tommy Franks....But it now appears that Garner will report to Bremer [the State Department's choice], who may report directly to the White House without even going through Franks. Leak of his appointment clearly embarrassed Rumsfeld..."

I am currently writing an article comparing the American support of "local" politicians and of regime change in Vietnam (circa mid-50s - 1973) with that in Iraq. The parallels are interesting (tho' they can easily be overstated). E.g. the Americans having supported a dictator must reverse themselves, all the while casting about for a regime (in the South) that is pro-American and stable. That's a tough combination when America becomes unpopular with the indigenous population. In some instances/events, you can merely substitute the word "anti-terrorrism" for "anti-communism."

(Forgive me for quoting myself.) One of the lessons offered by the Vietnam War is the folly of America attempting to achieve regime change in a nation whose religion, culture, history, and politics differ dramatically from its own. As a story, the folly may begin in September 1945, when a slender figure stood on a balcony in Hanoi to address the assembled masses. He proclaimed: "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: all the peoples on the earth are equal from birth; all the peoples have the right to live to be happy and free."

The speaker was the communist leader Ho Chi Minh ("He Who Enlightens"). The document being read was the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. American Army officers shared the review stand while a Vietnamese band played the "Star Spangled Banner." Later, American warplanes flew in salute over the city. The Americans saluted Ho Chi Mihn because he had actively assisted the Allies against the Japanese during World War II.

Thirty years later, on April 30th, 1975, the US ambassador would flee by helicopter from Saigon, which was besieged by North Vietnamese troops. His departure would end American involvement in the Vietnam War -- a conflict during which one President was assassinated (Kennedy), another declined re-election (Johnson), and a third was discredited (Nixon).

The article includes the 5 regime changes that occurred between the murder of Diem in November '63 to the establishment of the one that was (arguably) controlled by General Thieu. Approximately five changes in one year. How many regime changes will take place in Iraq I wonder, given that Garner seems to be on the "replacement" list after only being in charge for somewhat over a week?

Best to all,

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