Im­por­tant par­al­lels be­tween Iraq and Viet­nam

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - David Lim­baugh

While there are, of course, enor­mous dif­fer­ences be­tween the big pic­ture war on ter­ror and the Cold War and the smaller pic­ture war in Iraq and the Viet­nam War, there are also un­canny par­al­lels that might en­hance our un­der­stand­ing of to­day’s global con­flict.

In the Six­ties and Sev­en­ties, lib­er­als and con­ser­va­tives dis­agreed on whether Viet­nam was in a civil war or a vic­tim of the Com­mu­nists’ plan for global ex­pan­sion. The left seemed all too ea­ger to ig­nore that both the Soviet and Chi­nese com­mu­nists were fund­ing and fo­ment­ing North Viet­nam’s ag­gres­sion, just as the left to­day wants to ig­nore Iran’s and Syria’s sim­i­lar spon­sor­ship of ter­ror­ism and eth­nic strife in Iraq.

In­deed, lib­er­als ar­gued that there was no mono­lithic com­mu­nist move­ment — given the com­pet­ing com­mu­nist power cen­ters of the Soviet Union and China — and dis­missed fears born of the domino the­ory: that if South Viet­nam were to fall, other na­tions would do like­wise. Much of the left to­day tells us that be­cause there is so much in­ternecine con­flict among Mus­lims, mainly be­tween Sunni and Shia, that we shouldn’t fear their pur­suit of a global caliphate. Lib­er­als to­day view the Iraq war in a vac­uum, deny­ing it is part of the global war on ter­ror and down­play­ing the likely dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for Iraq, the Iraqi peo­ple and the war on ter­ror if we pre­ma­turely with­draw from Iraq.

We lost very few bat­tles in Viet­nam, yet the left and the me­dia con­vinced the Amer­i­can peo­ple we were los­ing the war, which even­tu­ally eroded our will. We have lost few, if any bat­tles in Iraq, but the con­ven­tional wis­dom em­a­nat­ing from the left and the main­stream me­dia is that we are los­ing the war. Con­se­quently, Amer­ica’s will to per­se­vere has been se­verely com­pro­mised.

Cold War lib­er­als pooh poohed Nikita Khrushchev’s “We will bury you” threats to the United States, and ridiculed con­ser­va­tives as fear­ing that com­mu­nists were “be­hind ev­ery rock.” To­day’s lib­er­als also seem un­will­ing to take Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad at his word that he is com­mit­ted to ex­ter­mi­nat­ing (“bury­ing”) Is­rael. Bill Clin­ton and John Kerry, to name a few of to­day’s libs, have made fun of con­ser­va­tives for be­liev­ing there are ter­ror­ists be­hind ev­ery rock.

Cold War lib­er­als ha­bit­u­ally apol­o­gized for Soviet Com­mu­nist ag­gres­sion and their ob­ses­sive pur­suit of nu­clear weapons. They main­tained there was moral equiv­a­lence be­tween the United States and the Sovi­ets in the arms race and in­sisted the Soviet regime was not in­her­ently evil, but merely pro­tect­ing its in­ter­ests — from U.S. im­pe­ri­al­ism. If we would just freeze our nukes, then dis­arm, the Sovi­ets would fol­low. To­day’s ter­ror­ist apol­o­gists in­sist that Mus­lim ex­trem­ists have le­git­i­mate griev­ances, in­clud­ing the al­leged dis­pos­ses­sion of Pales­tini­ans from “their” land and Amer­i­can “im­pe­ri­al­ism” in Iraq. If Is­rael would just give back the land and we would with­draw from Iraq, the ter­ror­ists’ thirst for blood­shed would be quenched.

The left to­day — like yes­ter­day — can’t get its head around the idea that we are in a global war, and that is pri­mar­ily be­cause it has dif­fi­culty mak­ing the cru­cial moral dis­tinc­tions that are es­sen­tial to our clar­ity of vi­sion.

Its in­abil­ity or re­fusal to see Is­lamic ex­trem­ism as evil pre­vents it from un­der­stand­ing that the ter- ror­ists’ hos­til­ity against us, Is­rael and any other na­tion that chooses to ob­struct their hege­monic de­signs can­not be ap­peased and that they must be de­feated.

The left’s blind­ness to this evil keeps it from grasp­ing that we are not the an­tag­o­nists in Iraq or the ini­tia­tors of a “war of choice,” but jus­ti­fi­ably re­moved Sad­dam Hus­sein from power and are now morally jus­ti­fied in try­ing to help the Iraqis es­tab­lish self-rule. The lib­er­als’ blind­ness also led them to sym­pa­thize with mis­guided Euro­pean and United Na­tions’ crit­ics of the U.S. in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq.

When the left fi­nally suc­ceeded in de-fund­ing our de­fense of South Viet­nam, a blood­bath en­sued, de­spite John Kerry’s and the left’s ar­ro­gantly cyn­i­cal dis­missal of pre­dic­tions it would oc­cur. The left has never been held ac­count­able for that, partly be­cause it dis­torted and rewrote his­tory, and as a re­sult it has far more cred­i­bil­ity than it de­serves to­day in ad­vo­cat­ing a sim­i­lar with­drawal from Iraq and in deny­ing the ab­ject evil of Mus­lim ex­trem­ists.

To glean the proper lessons from th­ese par­al­lels we must com­pare the approach of the left to­ward our en­e­mies — best per­son­i­fied in Jimmy Carter’s de­featism and malaise (which still per­sists to­day) — to the tri­umphal­ism of Rea­gan con­ser­vatism.

Had Amer­ica ac­cepted the Jimmy Carter world­view, we might still be fight­ing the Cold War. Un­til we re­ject that world­view to­day and un­der­stand the na­ture of our en­emy and the global con­text of the war, we will be hard-pressed to turn the cor­ner in the war on ter­ror.

David Lim­baugh, the brother of talk ra­dio host Rush Lim­baugh, is na­tion­ally syn­di­cated.

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