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Former Generals Slam Iraq-Korea Comparison

Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick.
by Leander Schaerlaeckens
UPI Correspondent
Washington (UPI) June 05, 2007
Two former U.S. Army generals and a former high-ranking Pentagon official have criticized the Bush administration for comparing the war in Iraq to the Korean War. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow made the comparison in comments last week. But his remarks infuriated some retired senior U.S. Army officers. "It's a gross over-simplification to reassure people that we have a longer-term plan," retired Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick said in a teleconference Friday.

Last week the White House announced that President George W. Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq and compared it to the ongoing American presence in South Korea, which started 57 years ago and still comes to almost 30,000 troops.

However, Kerrick and retired Brig. Gen. John Jones denied there was any parallel between the two wars. "Clearly there was no insurgency or terrorism going on in South Korea," Kerrick said. "There was a clear line between North and South Korea; the United States was really there as a trip-wire to protect South Korea. It's completely different in Iraq. As we know there is no line. The analogy just doesn't cut in this set of circumstances."

Jones called the comparison "blatant PR" that can't be taken seriously. "It's an umbrella for staying the course," he said.

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "When the North Koreans attacked South Korea we knew instantly that it was a violent attack and we responded." Iraq, he said, was different. "We're there with a very bad policy in a part of the world that's vital to us. The Korean analogy just doesn't work."

Gelb further accused the president of comparing the war in Iraq to the Korean War to head off comparisons to the war in Vietnam. "I think there are major parallels to Vietnam because there is no strategy that will produce victory. He's trying to change the terms of debate and put another analogy on the table."

Kerrick, who served as a deputy national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, also saw similarities to the Vietnam War. "In Vietnam we won all of the military battles, in Iraq we've been winning all the battles as well but we're still losing the war," he said.

"Bush implies that if we stayed the course in Vietnam the outcome would have been different, which to me is nonsense," Jones said.

Jones also warned against the dangers of the United States overstaying its welcome in Iraq. "Most of us recognize that there must be some form of presence in Iraq to avoid complete chaos," he said. "But there must not be a hegemony of American forces, which is what the administration wants. The longer we're there the more we're going to alienate those people."

According to Jones, the grand scheme was for the United States to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq, to be divided among 13 permanent military bases in order to have "military hegemony in the Middle East." Although support for this plan seems to be waning, Jones believes "that's still in the back of President Bush's mind." Germany, by contrast, only has nine U.S. military bases.

However, such a major presence would be deeply unpopular with both Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, Kerrick said. "The only place in Iraq that would welcome a permanent American presence is Kurdistan," he said.

"If there will be a permanent military presence it must not be U.S. dominated," Jones said. U.S. allies should not be excluded from participating in such a continuing presence, he said.

Gelb, Jones and Kerrick were all pessimistic about the prospects of Washington getting more military support from its allies in the short term.

"I don't think the international community is going to get involved in Iraq until the Iraqis themselves make some kind of internal settlement," Gelb said. "I don't think they'll come into Iraq under our terms. That's a pipe dream. I don't think we can look to them under any circumstances except to police the Iraqis."

"They're certainly not going to come in under our conditions to bail us out. I think the world has a vital interest in solving this conflict, but they're not going to come in and dance to our tune," Jones said.

He said that if the United States wanted support from other countries in Iraq in the future, it would have to compromise and give up some of its military bases.

With the troop surge ordered by the president in January now almost complete, there are 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. About 7,000 more are expected to be deployed there in the next few weeks.

Source: United Press International

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