Stevens again denies resemblance in Iraq, Vietnam conflicts

Posted: Monday, October 09, 2006

FAIRBANKS - U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens repeated his contention that the war in Iraq does not resemble American involvement in Vietnam 40 years ago in response to a Democratic campaign group that says Alaska's senior senator offered the opposite view in a private meeting with President Bush.

The Senate Majority Project, a Democratic campaign organ- ization that targets Republican senators not facing election, said a passage

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in Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's new book shows Stevens drawing a parallel to Vietnam.

Stevens called the Democratic allegation "a vicious partisan attack that misquotes me and is completely false."

Woodward's book describes a July 21, 2005, meeting at the White House between the president, Stevens and several other Republican senators. Woodward quotes Sen. John Warner, R-Va., telling the president that former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger "sees some very eerie parallels developing with Vietnam."

Stevens then said, "I want to echo part of what John Warner has just said," according to Woodward's account. "I think there are some serious issues there."

According to the Senate Majority Project, Stevens a few days later told Alaska reporters in Washington that "Iraq is not Vietnam."

Christy Setzer, communications director for the Senate Majority Project, said there is a "cavernous divide" between what White House officials tell the public about Iraq and what they know privately.

"It's disappointing at best that Sen. Stevens - who should be challenging the White House on its falsehoods - has chosen instead to follow its path of deception," she said.

Stevens said the Senate Majority Project is trying to fabricate news.

"I have never said Iraq is another Vietnam, and I never indicated that to President Bush," Stevens said. "The 'serious issues' I spoke about on June 21 were the increasing presence of guerrilla-type attacks - terrorist attacks - on civilians and the presence of people not in uniform."

Stevens has addressed the Vietnam comparison before. A year after American troopers invaded Iraq, he delivered a lengthy rebuttal on the Senate floor.

He noted that President Lyndon Johnson sent military advisers to Vietnam without congressional authority to use force while Congress gave Bush authority before the Iraq war. Just eight nations allied themselves with the United States in Vietnam and in Iraq, 30 have, he said.

Saddam Hussein violated 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions and the president of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, violated none, Stevens said

The United States sent 2 million draftees went to Vietnam and the military today is all volunteer, he said.

Also, Ho Chi Minh used no chemical or biological weapons against his countrymen and Saddam Hussein killed thousands with such weapons, Stevens said.

Stevens also quoted from an article by former diplomat Anthony Cordesman, who said Iraq's insurgents have no "massive external" countries backing them. North Vietnam had backing from Russia and China.

Stevens also noted that Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., has said recently that the Vietnam analogy was misleading because most Iraqis share the U.S. vision for a participatory, representative democracy.

"President Bush is absolutely right when he says that the Vietnam-Iraq analogy is false," Stevens said.

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