A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Comparing Vietnam to Iraq

Today our Glorious Leader finally dropped the taboo his administration had placed on comparing Iraq with Vietnam. He essentially warned that if we leave Iraq before a lasting peace is created, we will see a repeat of history in which Iraqis descend into civil war and mounting bloodshed. This is true, and no one denies it. He then went on to explain that because of this, he will not allow the US to leave Iraq until that peace is achieved. This is where things begin to fall apart.

"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 'reeducation camps' and 'killing fields.'"
It sucks to contemplate that sort of blood on your hands. So I can understand wanting to stay until we can be sure it won't happen. Except that we can't. There's simply no way on earth that we can stop this. The Sunnis and Shiites aren't going to miraculously start cooperating just because we tell them they have to. They're not going to stop attacking each other and burying their heads in sectarian nonsense because we said so. Hell, we can't stop doing it ourselves (if not to the same degree of violence) in our own nation. Everybody is entitled to their opinion; the key is learning to cooperate, a concept conservatives had abandoned during their majority in Congress. We're really not so different from the Iraqis; we're just less eager to blow ourselves up in the name of our invisible gods.

The point is that the Vietnam analogy is wildly accurate, just not for the reasons that pro-war advocates would like. Like Vietnam, we should never have gone to Iraq. Like Vietnam, we don't have a strategy that can neutralize the insurgents' tactics. And like Vietnam, our very presence there is creating the incentive the Iraqis needs to fight us. We should never forget that we are the best recruiters for insurgency and terrorism the Middle East has ever seen. No matter what we do or how long we stay, the place is going to be bathed in blood. Once we leave, that bloodshed is going to escalate -- and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

So why should we leave? I can think of three reasons off the top of my head. The first is that we should not be sending our people off to die so that we can browbeat the Iraqis into conceding their oil resources to us. The second is because the longer we stay, the more resentment we create and the greater the violence when we finally do leave. But most of all, the only reason to leave that truly matters is because they asked us to.

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