Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vietnam Redux; Another Backstab In Iraq?

I will never forget the rage and overwhelming shame and sadness I felt as the last helicopter left Vietnam, after the liberal Democrats in Congress pulled the plug on our troops and turned an unbroken series of military victories into an inglorious defeat. They covered their dishonoring of 58,239 killed in action and 128,000 wounded in action by enlisting Walter Cronkite to help them spread the lie that American-South Vietnamese forces had lost the Tet offensive. Everyone now knows that the American Army won every engagement including Tet. Recent interviews with former North Vietnamese generals also confirm that a favorable peace treaty was at hand.

We now also know that the domino theory the liberal Democrats pooh-poohed came immediately into play, and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Thai were then slaughtered – including some of the brave Hmong tribe we left in the lurch. I have no interest in refighting the Vietnam War. I had opposed it at the start, but I have always objected to people like John Kerry lying about it, and I take some comfort in the realization that the Vietnam War bled the communist side so much that it contributed in a major way to the eventual destruction and defeat of the old Soviet Union.

The reason I bring it up now is the prospect of it happening all over again in Iraq, and this time, it will finish us. The Democrats have made no secret of their plans to withdraw funding of the American military presence in Iraq as soon as they gain control of the House, which the polls say they are about to do.

The job of overthrowing Saddam and encouraging and nourishing a democracy in the heart of the Middle East has proven much more difficult than we expected, BUT OUR TROOPS HAVE NOT LOST A SINGLE BATTLE. Once more, it appears, the major battle for winning or losing the Iraq War will occur right here in the USA as liberal Democrats try once again to pull the plug and dishonor America. As of this date our losses in Iraq, sad and disturbing as they are, are less than half of our casualties in just one battle at Iwo Jima or at Guadalcanal during World War II.

We have largely defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq, and while it’s true that tribal and religious loyalties and blood-feuds are creating much violence there, the arrogance of those who say that Muslims cannot handle democracy is breathtaking, and is racism at its worst. It ignores the fact that most of Iraq is now peaceful and prospering. It also ignores completely the experience of Turkey which, while not Arab, is mostly Sunni Muslim with a large Shia population as well. It may well be, though, that Iraq needs an Ataturk, and Prime Minister Maliki may not be that man.

Those of you who are still in denial about the threat to America from Islamic fanatics, please turn up your volume and watch this 12 minute clip of Obsession. The similarity to Nazi Germany is astounding. One thing is very clear: we cannot reach an accommodation with these people; if we do not kill them, they will kill us.

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At 9:12 PM, Blogger John Carey said...

Keeping Resolve in Iraq:
The Real Lesson From Vietnam
By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
Sunday, January 16, 2005

Some respected leaders recently advocated an expeditious American withdrawal from Iraq. Others favored a postponement of the elections in Iraq. Many, watching the bloodshed in Iraq, search for quick and easy ways to spare lives and halt the bloodshed.

Senator George McGovern has been among those saying Iraq will be around for thousands of years with or without American help. True enough. But the Senator, and many others, go a step further when they compare Iraq to Vietnam. Senator McGovern has even said that Vietnam is now an American trading partner if not a friend. In his mind, apparently, America’s decision to withdraw from Vietnam in 1975 made for a happy ending.

Comparing Iraq to the struggle in Vietnam seems problematic. Believing that it is O.K. to fight a war half way and then depart precipitously and without a complete understanding of all potential outcomes and consequences is irresponsible and sadly distorts the lessons of history.

Ask the Vietnamese living here in America. They are torn by their deep loyalty and love for the U.S. and the belief that they were devaluated in 1975 when America executed the “cut and run.” The Vietnamese here now love the fact that Americans helped them hold off the tide of the communist North for years. They deeply value their freedom and their lives here in a country that has largely accepted them. But the Vietnamese here in America are reticent to tell you what they believe in their hearts and what they discuss in small gatherings among family and friends: that America ultimately let them down in 1975, creating chaos and bloodshed in Vietnam and Southeast Asia for years.

When America left Vietnam in 1975, the communists came south, sweeping away the former South Vietnam, and imprisoning or killing untold numbers of freedom-loving Vietnamese. More than 900,000 South Vietnamese were sent to concentration camps. Millions lost everything: homes, family, jobs and all possessions. A vast migration called the Vietnam Diaspora ensued. Something like three million people left Vietnam, many in small, undependable boats. Many of these “boat people“ succumbed to starvation, the ravages of the sea, or murdering pirates. Those that made it safely to other lands spread to all corners of the earth. Vietnamese people now live in France, Norway and nearly every other European country. They settled in Australia and other countries that would have them. Almost 2 million people from Vietnam now live here in the U.S. and the majority are now productive, legal citizens.

But the journey of these refugees was seldom easy. No one should minimize the agony of the trip to escape the communists. Many Vietnamese were refugees for years. Many of the “boat people” made it to the Philippines, only to be interred in an infamous “camp” on Palawan Island. These refugees lived a life in limbo. Palawan wasn’t quite a prisoner of war camp but it was a long way from the freedoms of the former South Vietnam. And Palawan fell well short of the goal: freedom and a home in America. During the Diaspora, some Vietnamese refugees among the survivors spent ten to fifteen years trying to get to other countries. Many were forcibly returned to Vietnam.

And what was left behind in Southest Asia? In Vietnam: communism, repression and a loss of freedom. The economy in Vietnam is just now recovering from twenty-five plus years of communist repression. After 1975, more than two million people were killed by the communists in Cambodia. Southeast Asia was in turmoil for years after the American withdrawal from Vietnam.

If you ask the Vietnamese who fled their homeland after the war ended in 1975, they’ll tell you that the lesson of American commitment is to stay the course. If that is not possible, they’ll beg American leaders to carefully consider all the implications of an American commitment gone bad: a withdrawal with haste and little regard for the plight of the allies.

So, what might the delay in the elections in Iraq mean? Would the insurgents be emboldened? The answer is undoubtedly: yes. The insurgents, who are also the terrorists, are looking for any sign of the erosion of America’s will. Any indicator that points toward an early withdrawal of American forces means the insurgents are on the right track to achieve their goals. The insurgents want America out of Iraq so that they can work their will on the freedom-loving Iraqis without American intervention.

And if America leaves Iraq, what happens to the freedom loving Iraqis? The Kurds are trapped between Turkey, a nation that has little use for them, and the Sunnis including remnants of Saddam Hussein’s former Bath party, who openly despise the Kurds. Saddam Hussein once tried to wipe out the Kurds using chemical weapons, as if the Kurds were so many cockroaches.

The Sunnis, roughly 20% of the Iraqi population, held power in Iraq for decades during Saddam’s rule. They controlled the military, the police and other important institutions of society, to the detriment of all others. They fear that their past sins will be avenged by the majority after the elections. The Sunnis also fear that their power will be totally and forever lost in the election process and consequently want the elections delayed and America out of Iraq.

The Shiia want the elections, which they see as an opportunity to re-capture their rightful place as leaders of their own Iraqi destiny.

So what happens if the elections were delayed or America decided to leave Iraq before the restoration of peace and stability? Chaos? Probably. Civil War? Maybe. A nation partitioned into three or more parts? Quite possibly. Bloodshed? Definitely. When America departs from a war-torn land, we know bloodshed follows. American lives are saved while countless others die.

The insurgents in Iraq learned the real lesson of Vietnam: that any sign of a lack of American resolve or a hasty American withdrawal can mean short-term chaos but a long-term victory for those leading the insurgency.

John E. Carey writes commentary in Falls Church, Va. For The Washington Times.

At 4:03 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

John made my point even better than I could.


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