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The Washington Times recounts some of the things Bush and Cheney have done to support our military. You haven’t heard much about this, because Bush and Cheny wanted it that way. Read it here:

EXCLUSIVE: Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately

George Bush has been more than disappointing, but he has displayed a humble gratitude toward America’s military that has only been equaled by Ronald Reagan among modern Presidents. Kennedy doesn’t count because Vietnam presented few decisions about American soldiers to him, though his betrayal of Diem reflects badly in many ways on the likelihood he would have used American lives with respect.

Johnson treated troops as cannon-fodder in a War he saw as a distraction to his domestic agenda, and in any case had no intention of winning. Nixon followed a similar policy, treating US soldiers as merely expendable. Carter and Clinton disdained the American military; as did Democrat nominees Gore – and especially Kerry – who betrayed his country by vilifying Vietnam vets, throwing someone else’s medals over the White House fence and claiming only mentally challenged people become soldiers today. Kerry wanted to be SecState, an appointment that would have precipitated a revolution prior to 1860.

Bush has even done better than Reagan in the matter of resisting terror. Reagan did not do the right thing after the Marines were bombed in Beirut. I do not doubt he would have been equal to 9-11, however. The threat was then manifest to a man of conscience, though not necessarily to men of “intellect” such as Carter, Clinton, Gore and Kerry. Johnson personally fails to make the list on the point of intellect, quotes or no quotes. Still, he depended on men like Robert McNamara to supply the intellectual juices.

We are told Obama is also Democrat of “intellect.” We have heard Obama claim American troops indiscriminately bombed Afghan villages. Since this is wrong, we can hope it was simply the unprincipled, uber-pragmatic, far-left campaign rhetoric he needed to defeat Hillary. Unfortunately, that interpretation implies that he will check which way the polling wind is blowing when he decides the fate of our soldiers.

I will miss the clarity of George Bush on this war. Even though he invited CAIR to the White House and can’t actually bring himself to name the enemy, he truly respects the troops and can see we have to smash Islamic fascism.

He also didn’t try to make his respect a political advantage. What I fear is the return to using disrespect for the troops as a political advantage.

Semper Fi, Marines

Here’s two thoughts about the battle at Iwo Jima first posted here in 2005 and 2006.

Flags of our Fathers

John Bradley, Franklin Sousley, Harlon Block, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon and Mike Strank are the Navy corpsman and Marines who, on 23-February-1945, raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi. It’s a famous picture.

Still, Suribachi’s island wasn’t declared secure until 26-March, and it was 7-April before American fighter planes took off from the refurbished runway so many had died to secure.

Describing the Americans who fought this battle, Admiral Nimitz uttered the words that appear on the Arlington Cemetery monument to that flag raising: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”.

Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal said that “the raising of that flag on Suribachi means there will be a Marine Corps for the next 500 years.”

Thank you Marines. Semper Fi. 440 years to go; though I expect you’ve extended that a bit in the interim.

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the death-struggle for Iwo Jima, in which over 2,000 Marines died in the first 18 hours of fighting.

In the next 36 days Marines had a casualty every 2 minutes. 6,821 Americans and over 20,000 Japanese died. Of 353 Medals of Honor awarded during WWII, 27 were given for heroism on Iwo Jima; 13 posthumously.

And this was not the end of the Pacific war. In fact, it was just the first battle on Japanese soil.

My appreciation of this battle, and my gratitude to those who fought it, grew immensely when I read a book given to me by a former Marine. That book is Flags of our Fathers, by James Bradley.

Bradley discovered that his father, a Navy corpsman who survived the battle of Iwo Jima, had not only been awarded a Navy Cross for his efforts there, but was one of the men in the famous picture of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi. He discovered this only after his father had died, as he sorted through his father’s papers.

Danielle Girdano is another person belatedly aware of her father’s contribution on Iwo Jima.

18 year old private first class Daniel Girdano, 4th Marine Division, 24th Regiment, 1st Battalion A Company, first saw Iwo Jima’s beaches on 19-February-1945. His daughter learned what really happened there almost by accident. She bought a vial of Iwo Jima ash for her father as a Christmas present in 2003, and he could not speak of his experiences still. “He saw this vial of ash, and this man who I’ve known my entire life as the Rock of Gibraltar, broke down,” she said.

What she learned from her small gift resulted in the Legend of Heroes Memorial. A monument in glass, metal and wood; it has the faces of 10 Iwo Jima vets engraved on it. Her father is one of them. It is beginning a 49 state tour this weekend.

It is inscribed, “Boys became men, men became heroes, heroes became legends.”

I am cowed by the modesty, even self-effacement, of men like Bradley’s and Girdano’s fathers; though it is typical of those WWII vets who saw soul-wrenching combat. Part of it is certainly the modesty becoming of a different era, but I think most of it arises from the pain their experiences brought. (Note to John Kerry – your eagerness, sustained for 30 years, to capitalize on your experiences of “atrocities” in Viet Nam is one of the reasons you were not credible.)

I recommend Flags of our Fathers, but for a brief tour you should read Arthur Herman’s piece here.

Herman also invokes contemporary issues via a perspective on the doubt and debate surrounding WWII strategies that most of us now think of as uncontroversial.

Posted by Hershblogger at 2/19/2005 06:46:00 PM


Here’s look at how the story of Iwo Jima would be reported today.

Aid and comfort

The reporting on recent casualties in Afghanistan is even more abominable than I noted on Friday.

Bill Roggio reports:

The news reports of a major Taliban offensive in southeastern Afghanistan are inaccurate, as Coalition offensives and Taliban attacks have been lumped together to give the impression of a coordinated Taliban assault in multiple provinces.

…It is important to understand how the fighting was initiated, as the current reporting is giving the impression of a coordinated Taliban uprising. This provides the Taliban with a propaganda victory, as their power is perceived as far greater than it actually is, which can negatively influence the government and peoples of the Coalition forces serving in Afghanistan. The narrow passage of the extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan (by a 149-145 vote in Parliament) illustrates the fragile nature of the support for the mission in some Western nations.

Of course it is important to understand the nature of the combat, and if the PNB press were as dedicated to reporting facts as they claim to be, we might even have had information that reflected reality. Instead we have stories that reflect the predetermined attitudes of the left. To wit; the Taliban is gaining strength and resistance by the West is ultimately futile. Nichola Goddard’s life was wasted.

I want to know, if we have Al-Jazeera, why do we need the AP?

If the AP had been constituted the same way in World War II as it is today, the reporting from Iwo Jima would have had headlines screaming; “2,000 Marines die in the first 18 hours of fighting”.

The flag was raised on Mt. Suribachi on day 4 of the attack. The battle went on for another 32 days. Headlines would have been “A dead Marine every 2 minutes for 36 days” and “Marines suffer 6,821 deaths. Some ask – For what?”.

The strategic value of Iwo Jima would never have been mentioned, and the fact that 20,000 fanatical enemy soldiers died would have been covered by a story headlined – “Japanese widows grieve”.

Here’s an example of how it was actually reported. Don’t miss the audio link.

Iwo Jima was not the end of the Pacific war. In fact, it was the first battle on Japanese soil. We finished the War with Japan on August 15, 1945 – nearly 4 years after Pearl Harbor.

The Battle of Afghanistan will not end the War against Islamofascism – unless we lose. Whether we still have the will to win even this battle is an open question, in part because that will is being undermined by the AP’s characterizations.

H/T SDA, where it is noted that Roggio is going to be embedded with Canadian Forces in Afghanistan starting next week. I’ve added an additional Counterterrorism Blog link to the blogroll for your convenience.

Posted by Hershblogger at 5/21/2006 04:15:00 PM


Finally, Democracy Project is recommending a National Geographic 3-hour special tonight: “Inside The Vietnam War”

CORRECTION, that was the 18th. It shows again on Sunday and Monday the 24th and 25th at 4PM.

The Once and Future Killing Fields

Christopher Hitchens is a leftist for whom I have respect. That is, he retains some principle and is intellectually honest: A rare thing among old Trotskyites. Here he gives many reasons why Iraq is not Vietnam, and why credit is due George Bush for getting rid of Saddam. To invoke Vietnam was a blunder too far for Bush.

… there is a very strong temptation for opponents of the war to invoke the lessons of Vietnam. I must have written thousands of words attempting to show that there is absolutely no analogy between the two conflicts.

Then, addressing the convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars last week, the President came thundering down the pike to announce that a defeat in Iraq would be – guess what? – another Vietnam. As my hand smacks my brow, and as I ask myself not for the first time if Mr Bush suffers from some sort of political death wish, I quickly restate the reasons why he is wrong to join with his most venomous and ignorant critics in making this case.

Very good reasons they are, too, which you may read at the link. Unfortunately, given the President’s contention that the similarity is a defeatist, weak-kneed Congress ready to betray an ally when success could still be had, all these very good reasons are simply beside the point.

Mark Steyn has the right of it. They wait for us to run again

…As the New York Times put it, “In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.”

Anybody with the sense God gave a sack of hammers knows this “historical memory” is wrong, even if, like Senator Kerry, they discount the millions who died because of it; or even if, like Senator Kennedy, they’re still bragging about it on the floor of the Senate.

… it had a “few negative repercussions” for America’s allies in South Vietnam, who were promptly overrun by the North. And it had a “negative repercussion” for former Cambodian Prime Minister Sirik Matak, to whom the U.S. ambassador sportingly offered asylum. “I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion,” Matak told him. “I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty … . I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans.” So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with about 2 million other people. If it’s hard for individual names to linger in the New York Times’ “historical memory,” you’d think the general mound of corpses would resonate.

It’s not just leaving our allies, like the “boat people” to sink (mostly) or swim on their own. The American malaise isn’t gone because Dhimmi Carter is reduced to lurching around stage-left speaking sedition in foreign lands, nor because Bush 41 is no longer a Commander-in-Chief swayed by Gríma’s whispers “don’t go to Baghdad,” after Bush encouraged an uprising that resulted in slaughter.

Banquo’s ghost walks among us. That some of the same actors are reading the same lines is enough proof of that.

You should read all of Steyn’s piece in order to get to his last sentence. This is what Hitchens’ analysis totally disregards.

Why not Victory?

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:

Another Vietnam?
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:

President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
United States

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.

Vietnam legacy is where you find it

George Bush reminded us, in a speech Tuesday, of the history of US withdrawal from Vietnam. Neo-neocon has an excellent analysis of the arguments for and against Bush’s view of this here: Whose Vietnam analogy is it, anyway?

Maybe the guilty memory of betrayal and failure, and the bloodbath that ensued in Vietnam and Cambodia, is actually a late and parsimonious dividend of the Democrats’ undermining of South Vietnam. Maybe it will be much harder to do the same thing to the Iraqis because of that disgraceful decision. I hope so.

The Vietnam War may well have ended differently if a series of Commanders-in-Chief could have resisted micro-managing it. Lyndon Johnson even picked bombing targets.

I am sure it would have ended better if we had had the will to win, and, later, the common courtesy not to consign an ally to the knives. The South Vietnamese shouldn’t have been surprised at this treachery, though, since JFK had earlier approved the coup resulting in the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. Another legacy that maybe Carl Levin should read up on.

Maybe some of the people who voted to abandon South Vietnam feel secretly guilty. Not that this private angst can change Ted Kennedy’s mind, but others might look at him and wonder when he’s actually bragging about it on the Senate floor. This from Jan-2007:

During the Vietnam War, as successive presidents escalated the hostilities in defiance of mounting opposition, Congress finally responded. We repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the original authorization for using military force in Vietnam. We cut off appropriations to prevent the escalation of that war into Cambodia and Laos. And then we took the decisive step of capping the number of American troops in South Vietnam. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 mandated that the number of American civilian and armed forces could not exceed 4,000 within six months and 3,000 within one year of the bill’s enactment.

The debate is intense because it is about who writes what history. Why the history matters is well illustrated by BELOIT COLLEGE’S MINDSET LIST® FOR THE CLASS OF 2011. Starting with “What Berlin wall?”