The war in Iraq is like Vietnam in terms of the reaction from the earmark-enamored capitulation baboons in our national legislature.
Max Boot describes it nicely:
President Bush’s analogy to Iraq is not inaccurate, just incomplete.
Read the whole thing, but here are excerpts describing two of Boot’s telling points:
1- As mentioned yesterday: That which Ted Kennedy is so proud of having done, as a political statement, to the Vietnamese. And, to be fair, that which Bush 41 also did, as a failure of courage, to the Iraqis in the aftermath of Gulf War I:
…the costs of defeat were indeed heavy. More than a million people perished in the killing fields of Cambodia, while in Vietnam, those who worked with American forces were consigned, as Mr. Bush noted, to prison camps “where tens of thousands perished.” Many more fled as “boat people,” he continued, “many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.”
…• The danger of winning militarily and losing politically. In 1968, after Gen. Creighton Abrams took over as the senior U.S. military commander in South Vietnam, he began to change the emphasis from the kind of big-unit search-and-destroy tactics that Gen. William Westmoreland had favored, to the sort of population-protection strategy more appropriate for a counterinsurgency. Over the next four years, even as the total number of American combat troops declined, the communists lost ground.
By 1972 most of the south was judged secure and the South Vietnamese armed forces were able to throw back the Easter Offensive with help from lots of American aircraft but few American soldiers. If the U.S. had continued to support Saigon with a small troop presence and substantial supplies, there is every reason to believe that South Vietnam could have survived. It was no less viable than South Korea, another artificial state kept in existence by force of arms over many decades. But after the signing of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, we all but cut off South Vietnam, even while its enemies across the borders continued to be resupplied by their patrons in Moscow and Beijing.
2- Also mentioned yesterday: The Will to Win:
• The danger of allowing enemy sanctuaries across the border. This a parallel that Mr. Bush might not be so eager to cite, because in many ways he is repeating the mistakes of Lyndon Johnson, who allowed communist forces to use safe rear areas in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam to stage attacks into South Vietnam. No matter how much success American and South Vietnamese forces had, there were always fresh troops and supplies being smuggled over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Recognition of this problem could make all the difference.
It’s been 28 months since I sent a copy of Barry Goldwater’s 1962 book Why not victory? A fresh look at American foreign policy to George Bush. It’s only 141 small pages, and I’m sure he’s had time to read at least the cover. Maybe I need to send another one, and so do you. Get one at Amazon and send it to:
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
The book’s two bucks or less, the shipping costs as much as a Starbuck’s coffee.
Update: 8:55PM. H/T Opinion Journal.
In a WaPo article from 2003 Peter W. Galbraith recounts Bush 41’s lack of cojones, and the consequences: The Ghosts of 1991
…the Shiite Muslims who constitute a majority in Iraq and in the city of Baghdad were betrayed by the United States — an act that may have cost them as many as 100,000 lives. That recent history — of which the Shiites are understandably a good deal less forgetful than we — explains why the Shiites in the south initially greeted invading American and British forces with a good deal more reserve than expected. And as the continuing turmoil in southern towns and cities makes clear, building a democratic state in Iraq over the long term will depend to a large degree on how strong and lasting a trust we can build among these people.
… Many of the problems we face now and in the future with Shiites likely have to do with the way the first Bush administration responded to those appeals. On Feb. 15, 1991, President George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqi military and people to overthrow Saddam Hussein. On March 3, an Iraqi tank commander returning from Kuwait fired a shell through one of the portraits of Hussein in Basra’s main square, igniting the southern uprising. A week later, Kurdish rebels ended Hussein’s control over much of the north.
But although Bush had called for the rebellion, his administration was caught unprepared when it happened. The administration knew little about those in the Iraqi opposition because, as a matter of policy, it refused to talk to them. Policymakers tended to see Iraq’s main ethnic groups in caricature: The Shiites were feared as pro-Iranian and the Kurds as anti-Turkish. Indeed, the U.S. administration seemed to prefer the continuation of the Baath regime (albeit without Hussein) to the success of the rebellion. As one National Security Council official told me at the time: “Our policy is to get rid of Saddam, not his regime.”
The practical expression of this policy came in the decisions made by the military on the ground. U.S. commanders spurned the rebels’ plea for help. The United States allowed Iraq to send Republican Guard units into southern cities and to fly helicopter gunships. (This in spite of a ban on flights, articulated by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf with considerable swagger: “You fly, you die.”) The consequences were devastating. Hussein’s forces leveled the historical centers of the Shiite towns, bombarded sacred Shiite shrines and executed thousands on the spot. By some estimates, 100,000 people died in reprisal killings between March and September. Many of these atrocities were committed in proximity to American troops, who were under orders not to intervene.
… The first Bush administration’s decision to abandon the March uprising was a mistake of historic proportions. With U.S. help, or even neutrality, the March uprising could have succeeded, thus avoiding the need for a second costly war. (Bush’s defenders insist the United States had no mandate to carry the war to Baghdad, but this is beside the point. The uprising started after the Gulf War ended, and the United States was positioned to easily down Iraqi helicopters and halt Iraqi tanks.)
The current President Bush cannot escape these ghosts. An American may understand what happened in 1991 as carelessness — inexcusable but not malicious. An Iraqi Shiite saw a superpower that called for a rebellion and then ensured its failure. Naturally, he assumed this was intentional. In the months and years to come, many Shiites may take a lot of convincing about U.S. motives and reliability.
The Left has long contended that part of Bush 43’s motivation for invading Iraq was the contract Saddam took out on his father; as if even a President possessed of visceral hatred for a predecessor should not find a way to retaliate for that brazen insult. If only for his own sake.
No, if there is any connection between Dubya’s decision to invade Iraq and his father’s Gulf War, my guess is it is more akin to atonement than revenge.