The Myth of the Vietnam Syndrome

John Glaser, February 07, 2012

Remember the Project for the New American Century? They were the neconservative think-tank group that had been advocating invasion and regime change in Iraq since back in Bill Clinton’s administration. Many of those involved – including Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld – got their wish, to the detriment of millions of innocent people.

Well, now PNAC is called The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and they’re doing the same misinformation and war-advocacy for Iran that they once did for Iraq. This piece highlighted at their website, originally published in Foreign Affairs, explicitly calls for a U.S. military strike aimed at regime change. Besides fear-mongering with falsehoods about covert elements of the Iranian nuclear programs, among others, authors James Fly and Gary Schmitt write that instead of simply bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, “it would be better to plan an operation that not only strikes the nuclear program but aims to destabilize the regime, potentially resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.”

This kind of talk is not new, and you know that if you’re a regular reader of this site. See here for my recent piece on the propaganda campaign for war with Iran and here for why aggression is so unnecessary and counterproductive.

But as I read that FPI piece, it occurred to me that these elite neocons don’t represent the country. Right? What do Americans think of a war with Iran?

Released just two weeks ago, this Pew Research Survey found voters strongly in favor of aggression towards Iran. “Of those following the Iran situation,” Pew finds, “54% say the U.S. should take a firm stand against Iran’s actions, while 39% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran.” Trevor Thrall at The National Interest picked up on this at the time, noting that “support for military action against Iran today is almost exactly the same as support for the invasion of Iraq right before the war began.” And that was after one of the most coordinated and aggressive propaganda efforts in American history.

This leads me to believe that getting outside the bubble of elite foreign policy wonkery is not a worthwhile exercise. If the people in the halls of power in this country want to launch another war of aggression in the Middle East, they simply will. They have their mandate from the electorate. People talk about there being little appetite for war after the terrible experience in Iraq. They talk of so-called Vietnam syndrome – the technical term for a mental disorder associated with “sickly inhibitions against the use of military force” – but where is this society-wide malady? I don’t see it. And neither do the “decision-makers” in Washington. And that, more than anything else, makes this next war increasingly possible.




18 Responses to “The Myth of the Vietnam Syndrome”

  1. I offer you one bit of consolation. Pew said just over half of those "following" the Iran situation were in favour of military action. How many people, despite the constant broadcasts from the ministry of propaganda, are not folowing Iran, concerned as they are with weightier matters, such as domestic issues or even world trouble spots where people are getting killed, like Syria? Let's be conservative and say 80% of the American people are following the Iran situation. That would mean just about 41 or 42 percent of the population as a whole is in favour of war with Iran. In reality, it is probably closer to 30. What does everyone else think?

  2. [...] ProgramArutz ShevaPolls: Americans willing to attack IranDaily CallerPlain Dealer (blog) -Antiwar.com (blog)all 18 news [...]

  3. I certainly hope so, Brian. I need a sliver of hope in this situation. I’m just glad I have our government’s own words (and Israel’s for that matter) to back up my words when I tell people Iran doesn’t have and is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

    But it sure does seem like the general population doesn’t understand the ‘shame on me’ part of ‘fool me twice’. To some extent, however slight, I can understand it: the major news outlets are basically press release machines for the state.

  4. Recent polling shows – The Amerikan people are kept in the dark and fed bullsh*t. Of course, that polling was conducted by PukePolling in cahoots with the Wall Street Propaganda Rag, Jerusalem/Washington/Whore Post, New Yawk Times of War, and/or ABCBSCNNBCMSNBC operating as The Lamestream Media Concerned About Profit and/or warprofiteering.
    Brian 'slick' Williams will offer a concise infojournalism commentary on tonight's evening bromide.
    So when I went out and conducted my own scientific polling around the neighborhood and, I found that fully 92.3% of all my neighbors polled rejected the idea of any manner of war on Iran and ESPECIALLY rejected the notion of going to war for Israel. So there you have it and the polling numbers never lie. Well, hardly ever…

  5. Looking at the actual question and answers in the Pew poll where 54% answered the U.S. should take a firm stand against Iran’s actions, while 39% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, I think it's a big leap to define "firm stand" as wanting to go to war. The choice of terms makes no mention of military action whatsoever and I guess many people could define "firm stand" in many ways — such as sanctions, name-calling, etc. The second answer is far more clear, where actual military conflict is mentioned.

    Why don't they just ask: Should we go to war with Iran; yes or no? That way you have a real answer you can take to the bank instead of this 'apple and orange' question and answers.

  6. However, a much better- and simpler- solution is to put it to Congress, with each and every Congressman required to vote yea or nay on the matter of war RIGHT NOW- no abstentions allowed. I want EVERY man and woman in Congress to sign their name yes or no to war with Iran, so there can be none of this 'i was for it before I was against it' nonsense. I want a record of who votes which way, so history can know the truth of the matter. Congress is not ALLOWED to abdicate its responsibility in this, and it should have it's collective feet held to the fire on this most important of issues.

    If Congress can't see the forest for the trees, maybe we need a new Congress. In the Washington of the blind, the one-eyed idiot is …… still an idiot.

  7. They couldn't sell Iran, so far, within 9 years of Iraq –what losers! For the Iraq-sale, US intelligence professionals were scapegoated during the flagwaver hangover. They'll remember this. They've since held fast with more reasonable assessments on Iran and Mossad has apparently hedged by distancing themselves from the weapons fiction which network TV had tenaciously pushed. Iraq is unlikely to support it, so one side of the sandwitch is weakened. There may be many points to list suggesting that war with Iran is preventable. But even stalling an attack could increase damage to the reputation of the sales department. Now don't they seem to be in an awful rush?

  8. Actually, overview of polls in the past six months show an overwhelming majority of Americans against war against Iran:
    http://www.pollingreport.com/iran.htm

    This is encouraging, given American broadcast media report nothing but exaggerations, half-truths and lies that:

    1. Iran's nonexistent nuclear program is a major American crisis.
    2. Iran is on the very cusp of getting a Bomb.
    3. Military action will work, destroying Iran's nuclear capability. (Evidently, it's to be repeated every so often, on into eternity.)

    Americans are sick of war. Pew rigs its questions for answers it wants. Israel wants us to invade and occupy, removing its last potent opposition in the region. That's the only strategy that will work. Our media is in the bag.

  9. [...] polling which suggests the American public, contrary to the collective narrative we hear about, is relatively supportive of military action against Iran in order to prevent it attaining nuclear weapons. Daniel Larison thinks that support is much weaker [...]

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