quinta-feira, abril 20, 2006

Vietname/Iraque

A comparação das tendências da opinião pública americana verificadas durante as guerras do Vietname e do Iraque, já aqui feita de forma puramente descritiva, começa a merecer cada vez mais atenção nos Estados Unidos.

Ontem, baseando-se nos mesmos dados, Chris Cillizza, no blogue do Washington Post, concluía que:

1. O ponto aparentemente definitivo de viragem ocorreu em meados de 2005 - aproximadamente 800 dias depois da invasão no gráfico abaixo - momento a partir do qual passa a haver uma maioria dos americanos que pensam que a guerra no Iraque foi um erro. Isto coincide com o caso Cindy Sheehan, a mãe de um militar morto no Iraque que montou uma vigília junto ao rancho de George Bush, em Crawford.

2. Este ponto de viragem foi anterior ao da guerra do Vietname, que se deu por altura da ofensiva de Tet. Para ser mais preciso, o ponto a partir do qual a opinião pública american ficou maioritariamente persuadida de que a guerra do Vietname tinha sido um erro foi após a ofensiva de Tet de 1968 (mais de 1200 dias após Rolling Thunder), que revelou que, apesar da derrota militar dos norte-vietnamitas, não havia qualquer esperança de uma vitória rápida dos Estados Unidos. Desde esse momento, não voltou a haver uma maioria na opinião pública americana a favor da guerra.

3. Chillizza menciona um artigo de Novembro de 2005 na Foreign Affairs que, sem desculpa, me tinha passado ao lado: de John Mueller, ainda por cima um professor da minha alma mater. Algumas citações de um artigo que merece ser lido na íntegra:

Comparando a evolução ao longo de várias guerras:
The most striking thing about the comparison among the three wars is how much more quickly support has eroded in the case of Iraq. By early 2005, when combat deaths were around 1,500, the percentage of respondents who considered the Iraq war a mistake -- over half -- was about the same as the percentage who considered the war in Vietnam a mistake at the time of the 1968 Tet offensive, when nearly 20,000 soldiers had already died.

Especulando sobre implicações para as eleições para o Congresso:
"The impact of war discontent on congressional races is less clear. Democrats attempted to capitalize on the widespread outrage over Nixon's invasion of Cambodia in 1970 but were unable to change things much."

Sobre a improbabilidade de inversão da tendência:
"There never were periods of continuous good news in the wars in Korea or Vietnam, so there is no clear precedent here. But should good news start coming in from Iraq -- including, in particular, a decline in American casualty rates -- it would more likely cause the erosion in public support to slow or even cease rather than trigger a large upsurge in support. For support to rise notably, many of those now disaffected by the war would need to reverse their position, and that seems rather unlikely: polls that seek to tap intensity of feeling find that more than 80 percent of those opposed to the war "strongly" feel that way. If you purchase a car for twice what it is worth, you will still consider the deal to have been a mistake even if you come to like the car."

Sobre os limites da comparação entre o Vietname e o Iraque e por que razão isso pode fazer com que uma retirada seja menos dramática:
When the United States was preparing to withdraw from Vietnam, many Americans feared that there would be a bloodbath if the country fell to the North Vietnamese. And indeed, on taking control, the Communists executed tens of thousands of people, sent hundreds of thousands to "reeducation camps" for long periods, and so mismanaged the economy that hundreds of thousands fled the country out of desperation, often in barely floating boats. (What happened in neighboring Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge took over makes even the word "bloodbath" seem an understatement.) (...) Although the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are likely to be messy, they may be less dire. The insurgency in Iraq, albeit deadly and dedicated, represents a much smaller, less popular, and less organized force than the Vietcong did, and it does not have the same kind of international backing. Moreover, many of the insurgents are fighting simply to get U.S. troops out of the country and can be expected to stop when the Americans leave.

E sobre as consequências, essas sim potencialmente catastróficas, do fracasso no Iraque para toda a região:
In the meantime, any country that suspects it may be on the list has the strongest incentive to make the American experience in Iraq as miserable as possible. Some may also come to consider that deterring the world's last remaining superpower can be accomplished by preemptively and prominently recruiting and training a few thousand of their citizens to fight and die in dedicated irregular warfare against foreign occupiers. (....) Ultimately, the chief beneficiaries of the war in Iraq may be Iraq's fellow members of the "axis of evil."

Actualizo os dados sobre a opinião pública americana acerca de uma e outra guerras, aproximadamente no mesmo período de tempo, nos gráficos abaixo:

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