Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Vietnam and Iraq: The "parallels" are perpendicular

One of the favorite techniques of the anti-war far, far, far left is to categorize the war on terror in general and the fighting in Iraq specifically as "another Vietnam."
There are, in fact, some parallels. But they are mostly in the reaction to the fighting and in the reporting on the fighting.
When you examine some of the current arguments being proffered against our participation and the history of the situations, there's just no comparison between then and now.
1. We "snuck" into Vietnam; we did not "sneak" into Iraq.
American troops, few in number, were serving as "advisors" to the South Vietnamese government and its army from the time that France pulled out of its former colony in the mid-1950s. That number increased under President Kennedy and then exploded under President Johnson, all without significant pretext and debate.
On the other hand, President Bush let his intentions be known well in advance, setting specific conditions under which combat could be avoided. Saddam Insane (er, Hussein) chose not to respond to the opportunity to avoid warfare.
2. We're caught in a civil war in Iraq. Not. We were in the middle of one in 'Nam.
Vietnam was a civil war. It began even before the French cut and ran from Indochina. It had been going on for a decade before the U.S. presence accelerated dramatically in the mid-1960s. Each side had its own defined territories, its own government, etc. We surreptitiously entered the conflict on the side of the South against the communist North. The lines were drawn, the sides were chosen. You were one or you were the other.
Iraq is a much different setting. Yes, there are violent elements at work here. Many of them are not native Iraqis. In fact, there are more and more reports indicating that Iraqis are stepping up and taking on the outside agitators, especially outside of Baghdad. There are large segments of the three major groups -- the Shi'ites, the Sunnis and the Kurds -- who are working together to attempt to build a new Iraq. That wasn't 'Nam, friends.
3. Vietnam was a conflict based on the theoretical. Iraq is a conflict based on the real.
One of the great intellectual debates of the mid-20th century was the debate over the "domino theory." The theory was this: If one nation turns into a Communist Bloc country, its neighbors will be pressured to do likewise. The theory had its roots in what happened in eastern Europe following World War II. The Kennedy-Johnson administration's acceptance of that theory fueled the increased presence in Vietnam.
Anyone who doubts that the Islamofascists are not serious about their quest is displaying a stunning ignorance of the past 15 years... from the World Trade Center through Khobar Towers to 9-11. Was Saddam directly involved in 9-11? Probably not. Was he involved in funding al-Qaeda and other Islamofascist terror organizations? No doubt. The dribs and drabs of Saddam's papers seized during the invasion are clearly demonstrating that. And no doubt there's a lot more to come about WMDs, etc.
4. The fuel of manic faith was absent in the enemy in Vietnam. It is boldly present in the war on terror.
Communism, for all its religious trappings, was at its core a faith of, by and for the present. Communism was and is little more than a vehicle for an elite to acquire and maintain power and a sumptuous lifestyle at the expense of the rest of the people. Death is the end, not the beginning. People are expendable, not valued. It's all about the now.
For the Islamofascist, death -- especially death in "defense of the faith" -- is not an end, but a beginning of eternal life in opulence, 72 virgins and all that. These folks are geared toward forever, not just the moment. That fact alone makes them exponentially far more dangerous than the Communists... and guarantees that the battles will rage far, far longer.
There were some valid parallels to then and now. But they are on the home front, not on the battlefields.
1. The mainstream media's reportage doesn't cut it.
One of the biggest military victories of Vietnam was the Tet offensive. Strategically, it accomplished exactly what it set out to do -- drive a wedge between the North and its base of operations in the South. But by the time the MSM got done with it, the stunning military success was an abject failure and was a major contributor to the eventual loss of Vietnam.
In its obsession with body counts and its accentuation of the negative, the MSM is following the same template it used in Vietnam.
2. The anti-war crowd is still very much the same.
This is not a putdown of those for whom religious belief mandates opposition to the war, such as the Quakers.
But many of the same "hate-America-first" crowd which cut its teeth on Vietnam is back in tow, with younger sycophants often taking it even farther. They learned their lessons on Vietnam and have not grasped that the situation today is far different... and far more dangerous to their freedoms.
So, don't tell me that this is "another Vietnam."
It isn't.
For the sake of our future, it had better not be.