President Bush, on his first visit to a country where America lost a two-decade-long fight against communism, said Friday the Vietnam War's lesson for today's confounding Iraq conflict is that freedom takes time to trump hatred.
Do you think Bush knows that Vietnam is still a communist country? If he knows, does that mean that communism is now the neoconservative's definition of "freedom" (neo-freedom)?
Mister Bush said that there is much to be learned from the Vietnam War. I'd say it's high time he started learning it. What has Vietnam taught him about Iraq so far? "We'll succeed unless we quit," he said.
If present day Vietnam is Bush's idea of success, the lesson he should be drawing is that the sooner we quit in Iraq, the sooner we'll succeed there. The French and the U.S. spent two decades blowing Vietnam to smithereens in a failed attempt to shore up a corrupt and ineffective government. Three decades after fall of Saigon, Mister Bush declared that, "…today the Vietnamese people are at peace and seeing the benefits of reform."
So fifty years after the first military incursion by the west into Vietnam, the country's economy is growing so fast that the U.S. is all hubba-hubba about becoming its biggest bestest trading buddy: so much so that Mister Bush was willing to sit with Vietnam's political leaders under a large bronze bust of Ho Chi Min.
Imagine. If we'd let Saigon fall fifty years ago, we could have skipped twenty years of blowing Vietnam to smithereens, and Vietnam could have skipped another twenty years of putting the smithereens back together. Shoot, the U.S. President could have been rubbing toes with Vietnam's leaders in the early sixties, and he wouldn't have had to sit under a bust of Ho Chi Min. He could have kissed the guy's living, breathing heinie.
As much as I hate to do it, I have to cut Mister Bush a little slack. He's a mouth-breathing nincompoop, and a lot of people a lot smarter than he is haven't learned the lessons of Vietnam either.
Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), a distinguished Vietnam War veteran and a prisoner of war in that conflict, says we need to put another 20,000 ground troops into Iraq. That would bring the total U.S. troop strength in that country to roughly 160,000. McCain seems to have forgotten that 500,000troops were deployed to Vietnam at the height of that war. A fat lot of good they did.
Then we have Senator Joe Lieberman (Bipartisan-Connecticut), the left-right chicken winger who spent as much time in combat for his country as Dubya, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney and John Wayne combined. On Meet the Press recently, he expressed concern that "…we can lose the war here at home if we don’t begin to be bipartisan about it and, and regain the confidence and some hope for the American people."
Joe's hearkening back to the war hawks' favorite cry about the Vietnam conflict--that we lost the war on the home front. Balderdash. We lost the Vietnam War in Vietnam, thanks to incompetent politicians and generals who got us into a bad war for bad reasons and conducted it with bad strategies.
We're not losing the "war on terror" at home. We're losing it in Iraq and Afghanistan. A new strategy in those two theaters of operations sure as shooting won't regain my "confidence and hope" because it's "bipartisan," and certainly not if it's decided upon by politicians like Lieberman and McCain--or generals like John Abizaid and George Casey.
Testifying before Congress last week, Abizaid , head of Central Command, insisted on maintaining the "status quo" in Iraq. Drawing down troop strength is a bad idea, he told the Senate, but no more troops are needed either. He also said timetables and "troop caps" are a bad idea. And he cautioned against congress or anyone else criticizing political and uniformed leadership in the war because that might give aid and comfort to "the enemy."
In other words, Abizaid wants to keep doing what he's been doing without interference or criticism, despite the fact that what he's been doing isn't working. That's the exact kind of claptrap LBJ and McNamara and Nixon and Kissinger and General Westmoreland fed Congress and the American people for a decade during the Vietnam experience.
General George Casey, Abizaid's subordinate who commands the Iraq theater of operations, says that "The men and women of the armed forces [in Iraq] have never lost a battle in over three years of war; that is a fact unprecedented in military history." Actually, that "fact" is not "unprecedented" in military history. U.S. forces never lost a major battle in Vietnam. And yet, in Vietnam, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, all that magnificence in battle led to utter strategic defeat.
That Casey, whose father was killed in the Vietnam War, doesn't know that indicates that he's as big an idiot as Abizaid, McCain, Lieberman and Bush are.
The yahooligans who exhorted us to "stay the course" in Vietnam warned that if we didn't, America would be overwhelmed by "global communism." We left Vietnam and communism collapsed.
The yahooligans who exhort us to "stay the course" in Iraq war that if we don't, the world will be overwhelmed by "radical fundamentalism," "Islamo-fascism," or whatever term they're using to describe who the "enemy" is these days.
Funny thing. The communists had the world's largest military arsenal throughout the course of the Cold War, and yet we defeated them even after "cutting and running" from Vietnam.
The Islamo-fascists don't have an army, or a navy, or an air force, and yet the war hawks claim that if we cut and run from Iraq, we'll be doing hand-to-hand combat with them on the streets of American cities.
Tragically, a significant segment of the American public still buys the war hawk version of the consequences of withdrawing from Iraq.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.