Saturday, December 09, 2006

"If the World Only Knew"

Why do so many servicemen and women want to go back to a losing battle? Via Gina (remember to vote for her, too): Maybe this is why:


I don't know if my delicate psyche can take the specter of a Vietnam-like denouement to Iraq or Afghanistan. When I think of Vietnam, I am ashamed. I'm not alone:

U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin futilely pleaded for $700 million in emergency aid, so on April 30, Saigon fell. Left behind were the shameful images of our friends pleading for their lives at the gates of the U.S. embassy as the last helicopter flew from its roof. A few days before, Thieu had resigned, bitterly recalling the failed pledge of "severe retaliatory action" by the U.S. With condemnation on his lips, he said "The United States has not respected its promises. It is inhumane. It is untrustworthy. It is irresponsible."

How memory fades in the face of such a dishonorable betrayal. Now to call it an abandonment or betrayal, as I did in a Chicago Tribune column, incites charges (here and here) that I am re-writing history. To try to make what we did in Vietnam anything other than an abandonment is to dishonestly read history through a clouded ideological lens. The history of our disgrace couldn't be clearer, but present-day attempts to turn the history of those infamous years into fantasy shouldn't be surprising in a country that deified men who ran to Canada to betray their obligations of citizenship and denounced those who served honorably.
Will America lie to Iraq? Do old men and women, grandparents all, in suits and only years away from meeting their Maker really believe their shameful recommendations--cloaking cowardice in noble-sounding platitudes? (Not that they, ultimately, make any decisions, but their recommendations, the implications for Israel.....Are they without conscience?) While I don't believe this President will be a traitor to a mission he started, what loyalty would a Democrat have to a hated President's mission?

Never mind that this enemy will still want us dead long after GW leaves office. Never mind that our enemy wanted us dead before President Bush took office. Never mind that Iraq is a perfect strategic location to keep, uh, diplomatic pressure on terrorist sponsor states--if we were ever inclined to actually use our fire power to burn or kill something. Is anyone watching Lebanon? Oh, I remember, UN Peace Keepers are there keeping the peace.

Speaking of terror, I'm absolutely terrorized by the emboldened anti-war types (via Anchoress). Will everything now be viewed through the Machiavellian microscope? Will political solutions substitute for doing the right thing? (And for those who view the "right thing" as getting out A.S.A.P., will you be able to live with yourself watching people getting massacred? Or will you be able to absolve your conscience with "it's Bush's fault"? Somehow I know the answer to this question.)

Can you imagine how difficult it is being a soldier right now in Iraq, trying to protect a worried population and trying to protect his own hide against emboldened terrorists? Can you imagine being an Israeli and hearing an American leader negotiating with your life and your country?

I remember not voting for President Carter in the mock elections as a elementary student in 1976. And yet, I get the feeling that a Carter-esque leader will be just what these times produce. Rage and disillusionment tend to be fuel for short-sighted electoral outcomes. All America needs now is a disingenuous opposition leader willing to say anything to salve a smarting electorate. We've got a year to see who that Democrat ends up being.