Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reclaiming Our Honor

I have never understood how our Left could compare Iraq to Vietnam when it has always been apparent to me that our Left understands neither war, Iraq, or even Vietnam.

It has always been apparent to me that the Vietnam War was in fact a northern invasion of the south and not some civil war where we supported a narrow base of oppressers against the masses of "insurgents" struggling to gain their freedom. This article goes into great detail exposing the various myths of Vietnam, and goes a long way to explaining my utter contempt for our Left's opinions on matters of war or the military. They lost the war in Vietnam for us when we had it won. We needed only a little more patience.

I won't summarize the various points the article hits, but just note the following conclusions from the ending:

The British counterinsurgency expert Robert Thompson, who visited South Vietnam in 1974, wrote admiringly of “the resilience of the Vietnamese, their courage, stamina, and stoicism. . . . They surmounted national and personal crises that would have crushed most peoples.” But to many Vietnamese, it must have seemed pointless to fight on if their patron and ally was going to leave them in the lurch. As Kissinger confessed to President Thieu, “It is a fact that in the United States all the press, the media, and the intellectuals have a vested interest in [your] defeat.”

On April 23, 1975, even as the battered ARVN was fighting to the last round against a vastly superior NVA force at Xuan Loc, Ford proclaimed that “America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by re-fighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned.” To most South Vietnamese, this signaled the doom of their country.

And not their country alone. The final conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam in April 1975 signaled the start of a domino-like process that antiwar critics had always ridiculed as fantasy. By the end of the decade, the much-derided “domino theory” had become fact.

The first to fall to Communist expansionism was of course South Vietnam itself. Its army had been the fourth largest in the world, and its navy the fifth largest; as a result of its collapse, masses of U.S.-made military equipment fell into Communist hands. The former Navy and Air Force base at Cam Ranh Bay became home to a Soviet submarine and surface-fleet presence—the largest such base outside the Soviet Union. A similar fate befell Vietnam’s nearest neighbors. The cessation of U.S. aid to the pro-American government in Cambodia delivered that country into the hands of the NVA’s ally, the Khmer Rouge, while Laos gave up any pretense at neutrality and became totally dominated by the Communist Pathet Lao.

Those who still cling to the Vietnam myth maintain that the falling dominos stopped there, since other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand and Malaysia did not succumb to Communist domination. True; but the domino effect was not limited to Asia alone. As the political scientist Michael Katz has pointed out, after Vietnam it was “politically impossible for the U.S. government to undertake large-scale military intervention anywhere in the third world,” a fact of which Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries took ample advantage. Even during the war, new pro-Soviet regimes had emerged in the Congo (1968), Benin (1972), and Ethiopia and Guinea Bissau (1974). At war’s end and thereafter, the list grew to include, in 1975, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Angola, then Afghanistan (1978) and Grenada and Nicaragua (1979). The fall of the shah of Iran and the establishment of the Ayatollah
Khomeini’s radical Islamic republic can similarly be seen as a result of America’s abandonment of Vietnam—and as itself the first domino in a second great revolutionary wave with which we are still trying to come to grips.

As for the people living in the affected countries, the result was a humanitarian disaster. The claim that there was no “bloodbath” in South Vietnam is true only by comparison with what happened to its neighbor Cambodia. On top of the more than 275,000 South Vietnamese who died fighting in the country’s armed forces, at least 65,000 were murdered or shot after “liberation”—the equivalent of three-quarters of a million people in today’s United States. According to the scholar D.R. Sar Desai, the Communist regime forcibly relocated or sent to “reeducation camps” somewhere between one-third to one-half of South Vietnam’s population; perhaps as many as 250,000 died of disease, starvation, or overwork, and the last inmates were not released until 1986. Ironically, the victims included many former members of the National Liberation Front and Vietcong, who realized too late that they had been puppets of the North all along. Another million or so Vietnamese, most of them ethnic Chinese, fled by sea from the new regime; an unknown number died or were lost at sea.

The cost in human lives did not end in South Vietnam, of course. Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.

I hope this history lesson also explains my intensity in blogging about Iraq for so long and my contempt for today's Left that wants to repeat history in Iraq by losing a war there despite our battlefield and political successes. Just as in Vietnam, in regard to our Iraqi allies we might say to them, "in the United States all the press, the media, and the intellectuals have a vested interest in [your] defeat.” Unfortunately for our elites, their voices were not the sole voices of our country. American supporters of the war and victory could bypass the elites and reach out directy to our warriors in the field.

If, as seems likely, we can push forward to final victory in Iraq in the face of the weakening resistance of our anti-war Left, we will have restored our honor by refusing to abandon people who hope that by siding with America they can build a better Iraq. That our Left in practice pines for the shell of a state that was just an extortion machine with a UN seat for the benefit of a narrow Tikriti elite beholden to Saddam for their wealth and status makes the attempted betrayal all the more disgusting.

And even better, perhaps this victory in Iraq despite all of the Left's completely error-filled comparisons to Vietnam will result in a real look at the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam that President Bush highlighted, but which even liberals and not just our radical Left rejected based on their bizarre myths of what they believe happened in Vietnam.

Maybe our warriors, who honorably fought in Vietnam for a just cause against the vilest of communist enemies who even jihadis cannot match in regard to the scale of the death and misery they caused, will finally receive the credit they deserve for achieving what they did despite our Left's opposition.

Maybe our Vietnam veterans will get the figurative victory parade home when our people recognize that our Vietnam veterans won their war only to have our Left hand our brutal enemies a victory while pretending to have compassion for those veterans by portraying them as demented victims of our government.

Maybe our country will realize that it is our Left that victimizes our soldiers by resisting victory, and victimizes our veterans by denying them the honor of recognizing them as heroes and warriors by stigmatizing them as mentally ill misfits.

Maybe our Vietnam veterans, who paid the price for winning on the battlefields of Vietnam, will reclaim ownership of the Vietnam War from those who claim the history of the war even though they partied their way through the war and embraced myths to explain their wartime summers of love.

Am I bitter about Vietnam and Iraq? You bet I am. And so should you. But maybe victory in Iraq will start to undo the damage that our Left celebrates with their bizarre embrace of their holiday from history and responsibility during the late 1960s and early 1970s. But hey, they were pretty stoned during that time, so it is understandable that they don't have a clue about what happened all around them. Let's give them the history lessons they skipped in order to go to Woodstock instead.