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Wool from thine eyes
November 19, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Missing presumed tortured More than 7,000 prisoners have been captured in America's war on terror. Just 700 ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Between extraordinary rendition to foreign jails and disappearance into the CIA's "black sites", what happened to the rest?
posted by i_am_a_Jedi (22 comments total)

 
Not necessarily deserving a FPP, here is a compelling graphic comparing the year-by-year death rates of Vietnam and Iraq.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:02 AM on November 19, 2006


Um, were they released?
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2006


Do I get a prize?
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:27 AM on November 19, 2006


I'm fairly convinced that Iraq IS another Vietnam, politically, culturally, militarily, etc, but that graph is SO stupid. I've been seeing that thing for about two years now and it is still a ridiculous comparison. 1964 was the year of the Tonkin Incident, and that lead to a huge increase in troops in the country. In 1964 there were about 17,000 men in Vietnam, by the next year it rose to 130,000. I don't know if that means the Vietnamese were better at killing us or if our military was just stupider, but unless this administration completely loses it they're not going to escalate this debacle that much.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:53 AM on November 19, 2006


here is a compelling meaningless graphic

Jedi, much as the political situation (and the word quagmire) may now be equivalent, there is no military comparison.

From 1960 to 1964, Vietnam was not under US occupation (nor after, for that matter). The US was only supplying advisers and special forces to the Republic of (South) Vietnam military, the ARVN. JFK never put more than 16,000 US troops in country. It was only in 1965 that American combat troops were committed for the first time, with the deployment of Marines at Da Nang, and then Operation Rolling Thunder, the first use of the then-brand-new concept of air cavalry.

Additionally, Vietnam was not only a guerrilla insurgency, but it was a classic jungle army-to-army war, with both sides deploying artillery, armor, and massive infantry against each other.

The suggestion that a mere timeline means we are now facing a massive 20x escalation of casualties is ludicrous and founded in no serious analysis.

This isn't a denial that there may be parallels, but that chart is just hokum. If anything, the US situation in Iraq has been three years comparable to 1968 in South Vietnam, when the government began to lose security control of its own territory, culminating in the Tet Offensive. But US casualties within secure rear areas and the free-fire zone, excluding the combat area where they were up against the NVA, are the only meaningful comparison. I don't have that figure, but it's a fraction of what the chart shows.
posted by dhartung at 8:00 AM on November 19, 2006


Jedi, I think it is awful that you are trying to make the comparison between rendered terrorism suspects and lost luggage. While they have some superficial similarities there is really no deeper comparison.
posted by srboisvert at 8:09 AM on November 19, 2006


Hey I've got a great idea - why don't we fight terrorism with terrorism?

Oh....
posted by algreer at 9:29 AM on November 19, 2006


MREs ARE PEOPLE!!!
posted by I Am Not a Lobster at 9:34 AM on November 19, 2006


All good points dhartung, but of the 140,000 troops in Iraq now, I'd bet no more than 16,000 are as exposed as those early advisors in Vietnam were. They didn't have a green zone or great western desert in Vietnam.

We haven't see the equivalent of the Tet Offensive yet in Iraq, but I suspect we will and then those casualty figures might track.
posted by three blind mice at 9:43 AM on November 19, 2006


Leahy Seeks Documents on Detention
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2006


I'm not a fan of these Vietnam to Iraq comparisons especially when it comes to dead.
Technology, increased body armor has left us with more crippled than dead. A fairer comparison would be the American dead AND severely wounded (indefintely out of action) with American Vietnam dead, but even then you're comparing apples to oranges.
Both are fruits (wars) but dhartung is right, the guerilla warfare aspect is more apparent in Iraq (apple, with it peel (insurgency) eaten in its entirety) whereas Vietnam, you had to deal with a both a military (the tough outer peel of an orange) and a guerilla insurgency (you end up inevitably eating some of the inner, white peel).
Wow. Must stop writing posts hung over.
posted by portisfreak at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2006


The Viet Nam / Iraq comparison is inevitable, although its accuracy can be debated without end. I'd recommend the Errol Morris film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara to anyone interested in making comparisons. It's fascinating to watch, and bears repeated viewings. While watching it, it's impossible not to draw comparisons between the two, as well as to other U.S.-involved conflicts.

One of my favorite quotes is Robert McNamara quoting a message from Khrushchev to Kennedy about the Cuban Missile Crisis:

"We and you ought not pull on the ends of a rope in which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull the tighter the knot will be tied. And then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you. I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence."

The entire transcript is available here on the Errol Morris website. It's interesting to read, but the film has much more impact through the use of archival footage and the haunting Phillip Glass score.
posted by The Deej at 1:13 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


And then there is this:
Kissinger: Iraq military win impossible.
posted by The Deej at 1:36 PM on November 19, 2006


tbm: I'm not sure I agree with you about exposure rates. If we have 124,000 of our military in the Green Zone ... well, we'd have an elbow-related casualty rate hockey stick graph. We do have lots of nice safe Rhode-Island-sized bases to operate out of, but we're operating ... out of them. In any case the pointy end of the sword is a lot of FOBs in shithole towns. And if the shithole towns are quiet enough, the troops get rotated over to one that isn't so quiet.

As for Tet, well, there hasn't been that level of coordination and I don't think there will be. The problem is getting to be less a revolt against "us" than a civil war shooting past us -- a crossfire situation.

Vietnam was a counterinsurgency and a jungle war and an air war and a fruit slicer all in one.

But if we hit Iran, you know, all bets are off.
posted by dhartung at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2006


We estimate that, as a consequence of the coalition invasion of March 18, 2003, about 655 000 Iraqis have died above the number that would be expected in a non-conflict situation, which is equivalent to about 2·5% of the population in the study area. About 601 000 of these excess deaths were due to violent causes.

From The Lancet via bugmenot

7000 is just a drop in the bucket.
posted by TedW at 7:53 PM on November 19, 2006


Speaking of the Lancet: Time for Another Body Count in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 9:50 PM on November 19, 2006


The Deej, thank you for that transcript.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:52 PM on November 19, 2006


Weclome, kid. :)
posted by The Deej at 10:27 PM on November 19, 2006


The President said the other day that the most important lesson of Vietnam was not to quit too soon. I think it's a strong contender for the dumbest thing he's ever said.

I've always thought it wasn't really fair to criticize the fact that he didn't go to Vietnam, and I thought the same thing about Bill Clinton. Vietnam was a long, foolish, bad war, and I certainly wouldn't have gone. So while I respect people like John Kerry, who did serve, I don't have a problem with anyone who didn't.

This idiotic statement, I think, makes it fair game. If you didn't have the courage to go yourself, but think that we didn't stay long enough, didn't send enough boys to die in the jungle, well.

That makes you a chickenshit.
posted by EarBucket at 9:20 AM on November 20, 2006


The Lancet number crunchers respond to Slate's Fred Kaplan.
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on November 20, 2006


Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are reviving demands for classified documents that have been rebuffed or ignored.
posted by homunculus at 10:48 PM on November 23, 2006


Why military honor matters
posted by homunculus at 10:51 PM on November 23, 2006


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