Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Abandoning Iraq to Vietnam's Fate...Except Worse

I don't know how any American can't feel shame over the humanitarian disaster America left in her wake in Vietnam. Some people on the left view that time as their biggest ideological triumph. It is very much the cutting of ones nose to spite ones face. Mark Steyn is glad the President finally called out the insanity. Steyn connects the consequential dots of the Democrat's "finest hour". America still pays a horrible diplomatic and security price for the expedience of yesteryear:

American victory in the Cold War looks inevitable in hindsight. It didn't seem that way in the Seventies. And, as Iran reminds us, the enduring legacy of the retreat from Vietnam was the emboldening of other enemies. The forces loosed in the Middle East bedevil to this day, in Iran, and in Lebanon, which Syria invaded shortly after the fall of Saigon and after its dictator had sneeringly told Henry Kissinger, "You've betrayed Vietnam. Someday you're going to sell out Taiwan. And we're going to be around when you get tired of Israel."

President Assad understood something that too many Americans didn't. Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it's only about the place you're fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The "Vietnam war" was about Vietnam, if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon.

But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is. Osama bin Laden made a bet – that, notwithstanding the T-shirt slogan, "These Colors Do Run": They ran from Vietnam, and they ran from the helicopters in the desert, and from Lebanon and Somalia – and they will run from Iraq and Afghanistan, because that is the nature of a soft, plump ersatz-superpower that coils up in the fetal position if you prick its toe. Even Republicans like Sen. John Warner seem peculiarly anxious to confirm the bin Laden characterization.

Here's what I don't understand. The American people, more than the political elite seem willing to hang on for the long-term, understanding that losing this war means delaying the inevitable and burdening the next generation. But throw the populace a bone, for Petreus' sake! Americans want to see winning. If the press won't show it (and they seem determined not to), then the leadership must lead and talk to the people loudly and often. Call a press conference once a week. Whatever it takes!

This is a war that will cut America off at the knees should we do anything akin to retreating. I am quite sure that that is what some are hoping for. Against all odds, the American public seems to be coming around. It's a truly miraculous development, when you think about it. They are managing to get their news elsewhere.

Self-serving aside: Could it be that alternative media (including blogs) is truly making a difference?

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