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Willisms

« The Silence of the Donkeys. | WILLisms.com | The SOTUOTPOTUSOA (State of the Union of the President of the United States of America) »

Is Iraq George W. Bush's Vietnam?

Ted Kennedy, "spiritual" leader of Democrats, over the past year, has repeatedly called Iraq a "quagmire," arguing that it is "George Bush's Vietnam."

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Christopher Hitchens, WILLisms.com's favorite left-wing intellectual, eviscerates the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam:

"There it was again, across half a page of the New York Times last Saturday, just as Iraqis and Kurds were nerving themselves to vote. 'Flashback to the 60's: A Sinking Sensation of Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam.' The basis for the story, which featured a number of experts as lugubrious as they were imprecise, was the suggestion that South Vietnam had held an election in September 1967, and that this propaganda event had not staved off ultimate disaster."

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Hitchens, who was prominently against the Vietnam War, explains,

"...the principles of the antiwar movement of that epoch still mean a good deal to me. That's why I retch every time I hear these principles recycled, by narrow minds or in a shallow manner, in order to pass off third-rate excuses for Baathism or jihadism. But one must also be capable of being offended objectively. The Vietnam/Iraq babble is, from any point of view, a busted flush. It's no good. It's a stiff. It's passed on. It has ceased to be. It's joined the choir invisible. It's turned up its toes. It's gone. It's an ex-analogy."

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One tactic of the left on Iraq is to invoke the same arguments that worked in the early 1970s, a strategy that works to a degree today because of the lasting scar of Vietnam.

Much of the Baby Boomer generation has Vietnam-paralysis on national security issues, a kind of post traumatic stress syndrome; Democrats, using the same playbook they used against Nixon, have, over the past year, been rather effective at exploiting latent feelings of unease about war.

Fortunately for the people of Iraq, for the security of the United States, and for the future of freedom in the world, there is a political ceiling of support for that kind of defeatism.

Ultimately, a great deal of the activism against Vietnam was a direct response to the military draft. There is no draft in America in 2005, nor will there be at any point in the future, unless, say, China decides to invade California. Not gonna happen.

In Iraq, there is tangible progress, and once enough Iraqis are trained to maintain stability, the United States will gladly leave. America did not conquer Iraq for glory or to plunder its resources, afterall.

The Iraqi people do not support the insurgency on any kind of widespread basis. As Hitchens points out, "Iraq and Vietnam have nothing whatsoever in common." Back home in America, however, there are some startling similarities between Vietnam and Iraq that could ultimately undermine Iraq's transformation into a free and democratic society.

Sunday's election was an important step toward, not the culmination of, freedom in Iraq. There is still much work to do. But nobody should underestimate the power that election will have in Iraq, in America, and around the world.

Liberal columnist Mark Brown even wonders now, "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?"

"Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something.

....

If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.

Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008."

President Bush, over the long run, has a real opportunity to prove the critics wrong. Because of the success of the recent election in Iraq, tonight's State of the Union address will provide the President a chance to bring some of his skeptics home.

Stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more on the State of the Union.

UPDATE:
Jonah Goldberg comments on the left's Vietnam obsession in todays' National Review Online:

"All I can say for certain is that I am no longer capable of being shocked by the Left's and the mainstream media's capacity to shove pegs of any shape into the round hole of Vietnam. A recent New York Times headline blared, 'Flashback to the '60s: A Sinking Sensation of Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam.' A cursory search of the Nexis-Lexis database shows that the words Iraq and Vietnam have appeared together nearly 800 articles in the last year — and that's just in the New York Times. The Washington Post: 764. The LA Times: 683. The Chicago Tribune: 526. Time magazine, a weekly publication, ran more articles mentioning Vietnam and Iraq (70) than it put out issues in the last year, and that doesn't even include letters to the editor.

....

...this fixation has little to do with Iraq because the war in Afghanistan prompted hundreds of comparisons to Vietnam as well. Between October 1, 2001, and October 1, 2002, the Times ran nearly 300 articles with the words Vietnam and Afghanistan in them. On day 24 of the Afghan campaign, Times's muckety-muck R. W. Apple revived the Q-word — which to liberals can only mean Vietnam — in a thumb-sucker titled 'A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam.'

....

That the media and liberals are so desperate for it to be the same tells us vastly more about them than it does about Vietnam or Iraq."

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 February 2005 03:20 PM

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