The Big Exit

As United States military personnel are beginning to make the departure out of Iraq, one can liken it to an event that occurred nearly 40 years ego: the United States’ exit out of South Vietnam. Although the two events came under different circumstances, and had different goals and aims, there are many similarities that can be drawn between the United States’ exit out of Iraq and Vietnam.

United States soldiers leaving bases in Iraq

By 2012, United States soldiers will be out of Iraq, and combat operations will be officially over, marking an end to the somewhat cloudy occupation that has been taking place for nearly the past ten years. President Obama announced in 2009 that he would begin gradually withdrawing troops in 2010, and that he will have all troops home by December 31, 2011, in accordance with the agreement signed by former President Bush in 2008. Although US soldiers will be gone, large private security forces will remain in Iraq protecting thousands of people working for the State Department and contractors. The United States will be handing over it’s bases to the Iraqi government, as well as billions dollars worth of equipment that will now be under the control of the Iraqis. This comes under much speculation, as critics wonder whether or not the past nine years of American intervention will pay off in to the formation of a functioning democratic Iraqi government. Many people also wonder how effective Iraqi security forces will be, and if terrorist groups will “take over” after American forces leave the country.

Famous photograph of last American workers evacuating the US embassy

The United States’ exit out of Vietnam, like Iraq, completed a long awaited departure that left many Americans with a bad taste in their mouths. As things were beginning to appear that they were not going to go for the side of the Americans, President Nixon announced that American troops would begin being withdrawn. In 1971, many US forces were removed from the area, and bombings were suspended as peace talks were taking place. In 1972, the Paris Peace Accord was agreed upon, and the “end of war” had been reached. In accordance with the agreement, which the South Vietnamese President was reluctant to sign, US forces would leave South Vietnam. After the US forces left, the NVA launched a major offensive, known as the Tet Offensive, against the South, and captured the capital city of Saigon in just 55 days. The last American personnel were evacuated as the NVA were on the outskirts of the city, as well as many South Vietnamese who were employed by the US government. There were many that were simply left behind for their fate to be determined, as there was not enough room for all of them.

US helicopters were pushed overboard to make room for the evacuated refugees

As you can see, in both circumstances there was no clear cut victory for the Americans at the time of their departure. Sure, in Iraq, Saddam was removed from power, but are the Iraqi people safer now that he is gone? In both of these events, it is tough to analyze whether or not the American intervention really had a lasting effect. In the case of Vietnam, it’s pretty apparent that while it delayed the communist takeover, it certainly did not stop it. In the case of Iraq, time will have to be the judge.

Another idea is the notion that we abandoned the peoples of these nations. In Vietnam, we extracted as many South Vietnamese refugees as we could, but most of them were left behind for their hated enemies to decide their fate. Also, we left behind the South Vietnamese army, which was obviously undermanned and underpowered. In the case of Iraq, the Iraqi people will no longer have the protection of US forces. Iraqi security forces, who will soon be in charge of the welfare of the country, already have questionable effectiveness.

Do they really have a chance of protecting and maintaining stability in their country? The people South Vietnam certainly didn’t, but only time will tell.

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Can Herman Cain still gain nomination after allegations?

As sexual allegations continue to rise against Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, we must wonder if these claims will lead to the demise of campaign of Cain. Similar allegations posed a threat Clarence Thomas’s nomination to Supreme Court Justice in 1991, but eventually didn’t curb his bid to become Justice. These allegations are very similar, as both are sexual harassment claims against African-American governing figures, both occurring at a crucial time in their bid for a highly respected and important position in our American government. When asked about these allegations, Cain even used the same expression (“hi-tech lynching) that Thomas used to gain sympathy in his case for innocence.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Republican Candidate Herman Cain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the situations are similar, a key difference is that Cain must gain back respect of the would-be people supporting him in his party, while Thomas had to maintain the respect of one person, President Bush, who initially nominated him for the position. Also, even if Cain were to be nominated by his party, he would still have to go through the enduring test of the American people, who would then have to vote him in to office over current President Barack Obama.

While it is tough to predict the eventual effects of these allegations against Cain, some of the recent GOP polls have proved that Cain’s nomination is slightly beginning to slip. In the most recent PPP poll, Cain’s popularity dipped 5 percentage points, taking him out of first place and placing him behind candidate Newt Gingrich, who gained 13 percentage points in his surge in to the lead position.


Time will certainly tell for Herman Cain, but it is beginning to appear Cain won’t be fortunate enough to experience the same fate that Clarence Thomas did in the early 90’s.

World War 3?

Over the past few weeks, there have been serious developments that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering military strikes against sites in Iran that are possibly being used to develop nuclear weapons. The suspicions that Western nations have been having for sometime now about Iran’s nuclear ambitions have reached a all-time high, now that the United Nations watchdog, the IAEA, has visited Iran’s nuclear development sites and announced that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to development of a nuclear explosive device.” Although it has been widely known for sometime that Iran has been developing and experimenting with nuclear activity, Iranian officials have steadily claimed for years that they have the utmost peaceful intentions for their nuclear program, and only intend to use it as a source of energy to power their nation.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kamenei and President Mahmoud Amadenijad

Sources in the highest levels of the British government, who are also tied in with the US and Israel, believe that Israel may strike Iran within a matter of months, possibly even before Christmas. The Israeli Prime Minister thinks action must be taken as soon as possible to ensure that an atomic bomb doesn’t end up in the hands of an aggressive Iranian regime. The Israelis have recently run demonstrations of their military might, with tests of long range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and also F-16 strikes that simulate attacks on a given target.

If these allegations hold true, they would be very alarming considering the fact that the allies of these two nations would certainly be drawn in to this conflict.The repercussions from an attack could very possibly result in a third world war. The governments of Russia and China, who support Iran, have already warned the United States, who support Israel, that a military strike would be a “serious mistake.” The supreme leader of Iran has warned the West that Tehran would respond militarily with a “strong slap and an iron fist.” French President Sarkozy has reassured Israel that it would side with them over the case of Iran, and the UK would certainly have to side with the US and Israel as well. The question is: what are all these implications leading to? If Israel decides for a preemptive strike against Iran, would the powerful allies of these nations begin taking arms against one another?

Effective Relating using History

The blog article appearing on “Political Insider with Jim Galloway” is a good example of effective writing relating past history to present. This article highlights the recent comparisons that are appearing as a result of the allegations that front-running Presidential candidate Herman Cain “sexually harassed” two of his female co-workers. Many people have seen a strong relation to the allegations that Anita Hill made in the 1990’s against Clarence Thomas, who was up for nomination for Supreme Court Justice.

Perhaps the greatest and most important aspect of this article is the use of multi-modality. The author uses numerous links and quotes to articles appearing on major media outlets, such as the “Washington Post.” He also does a great job using video clips in the article, one being a “Fox News” television broadcast, the other, an important 1990’s television clip from the widely broadcasted Clarence Thomas hearing. This use of multi-modality does a great job of informing the his audience in ways that make is easy and entertaining for them to understand.

Although this blog features more of an “informative” voice, rather than “opinionated” voice, the author material he provides invokes plenty of discourse, which is strongly indicated through the comments.  While this is a simple informative article, it features strong rhetoric appeal to the audience through its different aspects and approaches. Overall, this article is very effective in its purpose of informing and creating discourse in the community.

Libya=Iraq? I think not

When President Obama announced that coalition forces would provide support to the Libyan rebels fight against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, I, along with many people across the world, believed that this action bore a striking resemblance to what President Bush had in mind during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. After further research, I will admit that while there are some similarities, the majority of differences outweigh these similarities. I would even have liked to believe that they were similar, just to prove to all the people that Obama is just another politician, and isn’t really the savior that he was cracked up to be during his presidential campaign.

It seemed awfully eerie that both of these campaigns were aimed against cruel and violent dictators who faced strong opposition in and outside of their nations, while also having some of the top oil economies in the world. It was also odd to me that the United States had plans to put a democratic form of government in place after the regimes were toppled, which is something the United States is becoming increasingly infamous for. These issues, along with the point that Iraq and Libya posed no IMMINENT threat to the people of the United States, all struck me as ironically similar, especially under the direction of a President that bashed the foreign policy of his predecessor. Once I learned these things, it seemed I had no choice but to believe that Obama had repeated the Bush Doctrine.

After researching the differences between the U.S. involvement in Libya and Iraq, the first, and perhaps the most significant factor relating the two, is the motive for going in to these countries. President Bush’s reasoning to go in to Iraq was based on allegations that the Iraqi government was developing and hiding weapons of mass destruction. Also, Bush felt he needed to further the war on terror. In the case of Libya, Libyan people were calling for support in a regime change, because citizens were being murdered and mistreated by the Gadhafi regime for a very long time. This makes the case of Libya truly a humanitarian mission. The second major difference is that the United States’ President did not lead the call for action, like Bush did in 2003. It was French President Nicolas Sarkosy that was the first one to call for intervention in Libya, for the purpose of Gadhafi’s crimes against humanity.

The United States’ Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was also very clear to say that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in Libya. Although he didn’t say U.S. bombs would devastate Libyan soil, it is important that he did not send thousands of U.S. troops to Libya, as Bush did in 2003. One final and important piece is that the Libyan conflict had much less of chance of becoming a dragged out conflict. Although I don’t believe Bush thought the conflict in Iraq would last nearly ten years, his calculations and predictions did not prove correct. The predictions of President Obama, and the coalition forces did.

The conquests of Hernan Cortes and George W. Bush

Last week in my Chicano History class, we learned about the fall of the Aztecs at the hands of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. After learning about why Cortes invaded, how he invaded, and what the results were after he invaded, I drew an awfully similar comparison to an action of a recent President of the United States of America: George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Although they had different roles in their respective invasions, they both had the leading hand in their conquests.

          

After Cortes landed in the America’s and discovered the Aztec civilization, he had a simple plan: attack them and topple the leader, whom happened to be the great emperor “Montezuma II.” He thought that if he could remove their leader, everything that was Aztec would crumble beneath him. This seems a little similar to what Bush thought about what would happen if he removed Saddam Hussein, doesn’t it? The next thing I found similar between these two figures is that after they defeated their enemies, they both took part in seizing the wealth of the capital. It is widely known that Cortes looted the Aztec city for all of its gold and wealth and sent it on a boat back to Spain. The situation in Iraq is a little bit different. Bush faced harsh criticism early in his campaign against Iraq due to the notion that the war might actually be about seizing the Iraqi oil supply, a nation that holds the second largest amount of tapped and untapped oil reserves in the world. His administration commonly labeled this claim as absurd. But in 2008, an article posted in the UK based newspaper “The Guardian,” stated that all of the Iraqi oil field contracts were being divided between British and United States oil companies such as BP, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron. The US State Department played a large hand in dividing up these oil reserves. Oil companies in nations such as Russia were given no part in the contracts as a result of the division.

Some of other comparisons that I came across were that both of these leaders stayed in their conquered territories long after the defeat of the people. Cortes remained in what was the Aztec Empire for many years, “trying” to keep the Aztec way of life in tact, while teaching some of the remaining noble Aztec families to speak Spanish and write in Roman characters. In Bush’s case, he toppled the Iraqi government, found no weapons of mass destruction (his motive for going there in the first place), but now wanted to stay to implement Western democracy in the Middle Eastern nation. After the defeat of their foes, Hernan and Bush had to now deal with harsh resistance movements from the remnants of the people they had conquered.

United States Foreign Policy: Arm our Enemies?

One of the most recent developments in the news world is that the United States has been secretly and “accidentally” allowing the sale and shipment of thousands of U.S. manufactured military grade weapons in to Mexico. The ATF said that these weapons were sold under the “Fast and Furious” program, where they allowed the sales in order to then track and find out where the cartels are that these weapons are being trafficked to. Seems like a possibly a good idea right? Well maybe if they didn’t actually lose track of the majority of the weapons sold, their plan could have worked! The flaws of the Fast and Furious Program initially made national headlines when an assault rifle that was used to kill a border patrol agent was traced back to Texas. Any sensible American can realize the level of absurdity in this situation. Take a look at this graph to decide for yourself whether our government has a hand in the violence in Mexico.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this situation is the evidence that the United States has also “accidentally” done this before in past history! This first case of the United States aiding its enemies was in the late 1980’s under President Ronald Reagan, who was also known to be the first president to declare a war on drugs. In this case the CIA was behind payments of large sums of money to the “contras” (revolutionaries) in Central and South American countries, specifically in Nicaragua. They were aiming at helping them defeat communist governments, when in reality these contras were some of the biggest cocaine traders on the planet. These rebels used the money for weapons and ammunition, and also as protection for the drug trafficking network. A report, also known as the Kerry Committee Report, was the first investigation in to the idea that the CIA helped protect drug traffickers. This audio clip will help you get a better understanding of the help that the CIA provided for these drug traffickers. While they didn’t directly move the drugs, they did provide them with money and did turn a blind eye to the traffickers, helping protect their network. Oliver North, National Security Member councilman, was eventually arrested for his part in meeting helping Manuel Noriega, a Panamanian dictator involved in the drug trade. The Oliver North file is one examination of evidence that points to him aiding drug traffickers.

Another example in a conflict going on today is that of civil war going on in Libya. Many of the rebels fighting against Gaddafi are accused of being linked to and trained by Al-Qaeda, Americas’ sworn enemy. A commander of the Libyan rebels even announced that many of his fighters are indeed linked to Al-Qaeda. The world is much informed on the fact that the United States has been providing a surplus of aid to the Libyan rebels. Libyan fighters on the front lines claim that they have been trained by American and Egyptian special forces. While these Al-Qaeda linked fighters are not currently attacking US forces, who knows what is going to happen one they return to their hometowns after the Libyan conflict is over. Even Osama-bin Laden was once aided by the United States! The United States supplied weapons and training to Afghan militants in their fight against the Soviet Union in the 80’s, and we all know how that turned out. It helped create the terrorist network Al-Qaeda in the first place.

The only question I have for you is “what are we continuing to do to ourselves?”

United States/Athens too similar?


I studied Ancient Greece numerously as I was rising through the ranks in my schooling, but it wasn’t until this year, in my Western Civilization class, that I noticed how eerily similar the rise, and possible fall, of the ancient state of Athens and present day United States are. It is a popular fact that these two powerful states, although separated by nearly 2500 years, shared a common method of governing, the democracy. Throughout history, there aren’t many societies that can match up with the intellectual, economic, and military power these states measured out at. They can be easily identified as the respective hegemon of their time period, with each state showing evidence of imperialism in world domination through culture, politics, and military power. 

One of the first things that came to mind when learning about Athens was how they spearheaded the effort to form the Delian League after the war with the Persians. The Delian League, led by the Athenians, created a military and financial “alliance” between all of the participating Greek city-states, in case the Persians decided to attack again. After a while, the member states became very irritated with the power happy Athenians, as it was appearing that this “league of nations” was simply an Athenian empire, with Athenians attempting to spread democracy and control the power of all the other city-states. As a result, with Sparta’s help, the other city-states formed an alliance against Athens, dropped out of the league, and eventually defeated the Athenians. These events are known as the Peloponessian Wars. This Delian League is shockingly similar to the United Nations, which the United States largely influences today. Instead of the unified Greek city states, we have 193 member states, 54 of them experiencing more than 1,000 pairs of United States combat boots on their soil.

During the Peloponessian Wars there were a few mistakes that the Athenian democracy made that eventually costed them their sovereignty. One of them was the campaign against Sicily, which was a huge disaster for them. This senseless invasion very well could have cost them the war. Today, we have our invasions of the Middle East, especially Iraq, that we can compare to the Athenians. These invasions are both great examples of two hegemonic powers that are beginning to spread to thin.

Is there some resemblance that both are also aimed at spreading democracy to a nation that has never experienced it before? Both of these states have a vast history of foreign intervention, nation building, preemptive war attacks, and certainly what seems to be an itch for global governing. With everything that is going on with our economy and military in the Middle East, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hope that the United States does not end up like the Athenians did.

Another US led global economic meltdown?

Today, the most evident example of history’s repetition is the chain of events that begin with an economic recession in the United States, and end with a crisis in Europe and beyond. In the 1930’s the Great Depression caused a widespread global slump, and today, the global economy has been pushed to the brink of crisis. Most of us are aware of the problems that the US economy has been facing over the past few years, but we are now learning of the possible debt crisis that European nations are aimed towards full steam ahead. The economies of Greece, Italy, and Portugal have nearly collapsed, while the economies of the “healthier” nations of Germany and France are now headed towards the same direction. There is also a great fear that the big banks of Europe will default  if these governments cannot afford to pay back their debts. If Europe goes in to crisis, investors will be worried that the global economy will be entirely destabilized as a result.

https://chadw104.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/eudebt.png?w=300
When the United States first plunged in to what people are now calling the “Great Recession” in 2008, people were quick to assume (or maybe just hope) that it wouldn’t terribly affect other nations economies, like the Great Depression did in the 1930’s. The characteristics of the decades ( the 1920’s and 1990’s) that come before the years that these economic breakdowns take place are eerily similar. Both were times of great prosperity and euphoria, both economically and socially. Both were times where people were so happy and optimistic that they decided to borrow and spend much more money than they could actually afford. And now, both are the decades that lead up to the crises.
S&P 500 index
If you take a closer look, the United States is beginning to appear to have made some of the same mistakes that we made three quarters a century ago. An article appearing on Fox news states: “The European Union warned the U.S. yesterday against plunging the world into depression by adopting a planned “Buy American” policy, intensifying fears of a trade war, the Times of London reported.” The “Buy American Act” is dangerously similar to the “Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930.” These acts are concepts of protectionism, which basically creates and protects American jobs, by leading Americans to buy goods and services off other Americans. This sounds like a good idea, but actually results in the exclusion of foreign economies, which in turn, leads them to buy less and less American products. Also according to a Fox News report, in 2009, Mexico placed tariffs on about 90 U.S. products as retaliation for the violation of the NAFTA agreement that allowed Mexican trucks to transport goods in to the United States.
We can only hope that our lawmakers, banks, and investors can get it right before it’s too late and we drag the rest of the globe in to an economic crisis, while we are still the worlds largest economy.

The Day

The first time I knew that I wanted to study history was when I was in the seventh grade. This revelation took place in my history class, under a veteran teacher who was very well liked and respected (not by myself or my childish group of my friends) throughout the school community. It was towards the end of the school year, and my friends and I had basically spent the past six months disrupting the class and trying to annoy our teacher as much as possible. In between the times we were wreaking havoc in the classroom, I always took great interest in the events that my teacher would speak of. I wasn’t fond of doing the work and being tested on dates and events that seemed irrelevant, but these events that my teacher was talking about would appear in my head almost like a movie, which would almost be entertaining.

Near the end of the year I started to sit away from my friends, and began attempting and hoping to raise my grade to at least a passing one. It was one of the last weeks of the class when we were all sitting in again on one of her lectures, when I asked a question about something that she was talking about. I always loved and still love to ask questions in my history classes, and I’ve heard for some odd reason, that teachers appreciate the ones who ask the most question. Anyways, after I asked another one of my questions, she looked at me in front of the whole class and said “Colin, I think you are the only one who is interested and actually cares about what I’m saying. It wasn’t the fact that she noticed that I enjoyed the subject, it was the fact that it was coming from almost like an enemy, as I had basically been a little shit the whole year, and naturally, she must have not taken the greatest liking to me or my friends. From that point on, not only did my love for history grow, but I really changed my attitude about schoolwork and having respect in the classroom, as we really are all just people trying to find our way.

One of the things that interests me most about history, as all of us know, is that it tends to repeat itself. With this blog I will aim to explore and analyze current events that relate and tie in to past events that have occurred since the beginning of time.