Somewhere around three weeks into the Iraq war people started drawing false Vietnam analogies, but now in 2007 we are finally fulfilling them.
It started with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid warning the President before his speech that sending more U.S. troops to Iraq would be unacceptable - even though the President’s plan is nearly identical to that recommended by Speaker Pelosi’s own choice for Intelligence Committee chairman only a month ago . Other politicians who had criticized Bush for not sending enough troops are now criticizing him for sending more troops. Tipping point... it is now conventional wisdom that there are more votes to be gained by blanket opposition to the war than by being right about the war, even if it means flip-flopping when you could have had a legitimate “told you so”. Vietnam syndrome.
This means that the President’s plan is doomed to failure, because no matter what happens it will be reported as a failure on the evening news, just as the Tet offensive- the greatest US victory in the Vietnam war- was reported as a failure on the TV news. This means that Teddy Kennedy’s position, (and to be fair, he has been consistent from the beginning), that he frankly doesn’t care what happens to the Iraqis as long as we leave, will become the official position of the Democratic party.
If Iraq follows the Vietnam example, the purges after our precipitous withdrawal will eclipse anything that went before; in Vietnam, about two million died- and they didn’t have the religious hatred involved. And just as the violence spread from Vietnam into Laos and Cambodia, so it will from Iraq throughout the Middle East. The Islamists already believe that their victory is inevitable; that all they have to do is shed blood- ours, theirs, anybody’s- and America will break and run. And why shouldn’t they believe it? It’s perfectly true. Tens of thousands of terrorists from all over the world will flood into Afghanistan, and we will flee before them- after all, after having surrendered Iraq, no American politician’s spine will suddenly stiffen over Afghanistan. The current government of Pakistan may or may not have time to flee to exile in Europe before the extremists take over, but it matters little in the long run- do you think the French or Italian police will be able to prevent the fatwa’s from being executed? Within two years, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will all be run by Al Quaeda and Taliban forces- armed with Pakistan’s atomic bombs.
Has the war been mismanaged? It’s been the biggest cluster-you-know-what since Debbie did Dallas... but no matter how bad staying is, leaving prematurely will be worse. Strangely, though, the people comparing Iraq to Vietnam mean by that that we should leave- but the real lessons of Vietnam show we should stay.