Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Iraq is No Vietnam

Todd Purdum, of the New York Times, wrote an article this past Saturday echoing the newfound Leftist rhetoric comparing the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War:

"..But the difficulties of achieving such objectives, then and now, have led a range of military experts, historians and politicians to consider the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq to warn of potential pitfalls ahead. Nearly two years after the American invasion of Iraq, such comparisons are no longer dismissed in mainstream political discourse as facile and flawed, but are instead bubbling to the top."

Relying mostly on vitriolic propaganda from Ted Kennedy and imprecise statements made by so-called Vietnam "experts," Purdum added fuel to the political fire in a journalistic work so clearly biased that it can be labeled an opinion piece at best.

The problem for Purdum is that, as Christopher Hitchens of Slate Magazine demonstrates, the situations in Iraq and Vietnam are completely non-analogous. To quote Hitchens,

"...perhaps now is the moment to state the critical reasons why there is no reasonable parallel of any sort between Iraq and Vietnam.

To begin with, Vietnam had been undergoing a protracted struggle for independence since before World War II and had sustained this struggle militarily and politically against the French empire, the Japanese empire, and then after 1945 the French empire again. By 1954, at the epic battle of Dien Bien Phu, the forces of Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap had effectively decided matters on the battlefield, and President Eisenhower himself had conceded that Ho would have won any possible all-Vietnamese election. The distortions of the Cold War led the United States to take over where French colonialism had left off, to assist in partitioning the country, and to undertake a war that had already been lost.

Whatever the monstrosities of Asian communism may have been, Ho Chi Minh based his declaration of Vietnamese independence on a direct emulation of the words of Thomas Jefferson and was able to attract many non-Marxist nationalists to his camp. He had, moreover, been an ally of the West in the war against Japan. Nothing under this heading can be said of the Iraqi Baathists or jihadists, who are descended from those who angrily took the other side in the war against the Axis, and who opposed elections on principle. If today's Iraqi 'insurgents' have any analogue at all in Southeast Asia it would be the Khmer Rouge.

Vietnam as a state had not invaded any neighbor (even if it did infringe the neutrality of Cambodia) and did not do so until after the withdrawal of the United States when, with at least some claim to self-defense, it overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. Contrast this, even briefly, to the record of Saddam Hussein in relation to Iran and Kuwait.

Vietnam had not languished under international sanctions for its brazen contempt for international law, nor for its building or acquisition, let alone its use of, weapons of mass destruction.

Vietnam had never attempted, in whole or in part, to commit genocide, as was the case with the documented 'Anfal' campaign waged by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.

In Vietnam the deep-rooted Communist Party was against the partition of the country and against the American intervention. It called for a boycott of any election that was not an all-Vietnam affair. In Iraq, the deep-rooted Communist Party is in favor of the regime change and has been an enthusiastic participant in the elections as well as an opponent of any attempt to divide the country on ethnic or confessional lines. (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is not even an Iraqi, hates the Kurds and considers the religion of most Iraqis to be a detestable heresy: not a mistake that even the most inexperienced Viet Cong commander would have been likely to make.)

No car bomb or hijacking or suicide-bombing or comparable atrocity was ever committed by the Vietnamese, on American or any other foreign soil. Nor has any wanted international gangster or murderer ever been sheltered in Vietnam."

There exists no similarity between the two wars - none whatsoever. They share neither politics nor military occurences. In fact, the one thing they do share has nothing to do with the wars themselves, but rather the Left's reaction to them. In both cases - whether or not you agree with the reasons for America's deployment of troops in Vietnam - the Left has acted shamefully, resorting to decidedly un-American and borderline treasonous acts, demonizing their fellow countrymen who had served on foreign soil. The fact that the "Iraq is the new Vietnam" rhetoric was repeated a day before the Iraqi elections took place - which subsequently vindicated President Bush's actions in Iraq - only serves to demonstrate how far the Left has gone in its pointless devotion to naive principles.

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