Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chairman of Joint Chiefs Pace: 'No similarities' between Iraq, Vietnam

Then... or now?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said he does not see a lot of similarities between the war in Vietnam, where he served in 1968, and the insurgency in Iraq.

"I see no similarities between what communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were doing in Vietnam and what the al-Qaida and other terrorists are doing in Iraq," said Gen. Peter Pace in response to a question at a town hall meeting Friday with more than 700 troops assembled at Elmendorf Air Force Base. Most were airmen and soldiers, with a few Marines and Coast Guardsmen sprinkled in.

The Joint Chiefs chairman is the senior military adviser to the U.S. president, but he commands no troops and is not in the chain of command that runs from the president to the secretary of defense to commanders in the field.

Pace briefly thanked troops for their service and sacrifices, then took questions for about 50 minutes. Questions ranged from the frivolous — was he ready to have a good time at the Salute to the Military Ball later that night — to the serious, such as whether his experience in Vietnam nearly 40 years ago parallels what is happening in Iraq.

"In Vietnam, there was an ideology and a form of government being proposed by those who were against the central government," he said of the forces fighting U.S. troops. "In Iraq, what's being proposed is an ideology of hate and suppression. There is in Iraq no vision of a better life for people. It is all about who is going to be in control and who is going to impose their will on people."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

Special Note: The answer to the 'then or now' question in the photo caption is... now.