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Kissinger's views on Vietnam, Iraq

June 04, 2007

Re "Vietnam's lessons," Opinion, May 31

Henry A. Kissinger attempts to put one over on the American people. As has become an unfortunate norm -- among not only politicians but also the supposed political analysts -- he assumes as premises several conclusions that he makes: that a foreign occupier's puppet government is preferable to one that is openly hostile to that occupier; and that a war entered (or fought) unjustly can nevertheless be brought to a just conclusion.

Those premises pose important questions that form the center of what should be a vital debate about how the U.S. positions itself in the world. Those are questions that seem to be increasingly ignored or suppressed. I suppose the aversion is natural. Those who take power by force rarely wish to confront their own methods.

JOSH SOLBERG

North Hollywood

*

Kissinger's failed peace brought thousands of American and Vietnamese deaths; more bombs dropped than expended by the U.S. against Japan in World War II and secret and unconstitutional bombings of Cambodia. And, by inciting warfare in Cambodia, these policies set the stage for a brutal genocide of more than 1 million civilians. Here are my nominees for history lessons to apply to Iraq: First, unprovoked military interventions will usually fail or lead to blowback; and, second, U.S. leaders who pursue unprovoked military interventions should never be given pardons (such as Nixon) or statesmanship status (as Kissinger desires) but forced, following swift application of due process, to walk the plank.

JAMES E. HALL

Los Angeles

*

Kissinger neatly sidesteps the real issue. His argument hangs on the assumption that there is such a thing as a "political solution" in Iraq, that the U.S. is in a position to define that political solution, that the U.S. is at all likely to be viewed as an honest broker in bringing about that solution and that President Bush has either the ability or the desire to bring about such an outcome.

I suspect Kissinger is well aware of this, but however much the current president might be like Kissinger's old boss on the domestic front, in foreign policy George W. Bush is no Richard Nixon.

RUSS BURGOS

Thousand Oaks

*

Kissinger's commentary on the Vietnam conflict focused on interesting comparisons to the situation in Iraq. However, he neglected to mention one of the most significant parallels: the claim of weapons of mass destruction is the Tonkin Gulf incident of the Iraq war.

JIM PAPKE

La Crescenta

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