Iraq, Vietnam, and the Consequences of Abandonment

Liberals credit themselves with ending the Vietnam War (a war, I must remind you, that was started by Democrats in the first place under John Kennedy, massively expanded by Lyndon Johnson, and ultimately ended by a Richard Nixon – whose “peace with honor” agreement would be subsequently betrayed by the Democratic Congress). Please let me assure you that – when Democrats talk about Vietnam – they do NOT want you to know their historic role in the war or its horific aftermath. A little bit of history is fascinating given the current political war over the war in Iraq.

First of all, it is important to understand why the United States decided to fight in Vietnam in the first place. And the straightforward answer is that we went in with the strategic goal of containing Communist expansion. In 1956, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev struck the tone with his “We Will Bury You” speech. While Khrushchev most likely did not intend a declaration of war between the superpowers, he was clearly stating the U.S.S.R.’s intention to overwhelm Western democracies in a campaign of attrition. Communism was aggressively expanding throughout the world. And the world had changed dramatically in a very short time, as Soviet tanks rolled across Eastern Europe to erect the Iron Curtain, and communist revolutions began to spring up in one third world nation after another. The United States was forced to choose between fighting aggressive communist expansion overseas, or fighting with fewer allies when it arrived upon our doorstep.

Under the Eisenhower administration, military advisors and U.S. assistance were deemed sufficient to check communist expansion. But by 1960, Democratic President John F. Kennedy realized that more assistance would be needed. As the French colonialists began their withdraw from Indochina beginning in 1956, Eisenhower’s and then Kennedy’s administrations realized that more and more assistance would be needed to prevent one Southeast Asian nation after another from toppling. The United States stepped up its commitment to anti-communists governments in the region througout the term of the Kennedy administration.

The Vietnam War can rightly be seen as one battle in the Cold War. Certainly, it was the largest and costliest of those battles, but it was the nexxus in which the United States attempted to check aggressive communist expansion by violent revolution. Seen in isolation, it was a failure (i.e. we pulled out and left); seen in relation to the overall proxy wars against communism, it was a qualified success. The United States’ efforts enabled Burma and Thailand time to build up resistance to communist revloutions. After the fall of Vietnam to communism, Laos and Cambodia toppled as well.

Proof of the truth – and the consequences – of the so-called “Domino Theory” can be seen in the bloody aftermath of the U.S. withdrawel from Southeast Asia beginning in 1973. But as bad as the Indochinese campaign went for the United States, the overall campaign did successfully limit communist expansionism. Ultimately, the United States would win the Cold War, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and of the Soviet Empire it represented, in 1989.

By all strategic and tactical standards, The 1968 Tet Offensive launched by the Vietnamese communists was a complete disaster for North Vietnam. The dreaded Viet Cong – the local fighters who could attack Americans and then vanish in the jungle to their villages until they decided to strike again – were anhiliated and ceased to exist after Tet. From that point on, the war became conventional – with North Vietnamese Army regulars increasingly having to infiltrate into South Vietnam in order to carry on the war. The war increasingly became “winnable” as it increasingly became more and more conventional in its nature.

However, American liberals – arguing that the American military was lying about the war – pressed hard for a complete withdrawal from Vietnam and from Southeast Asia. Just as today, the Democratic Party increasingly began to support resolutions to end the war. Just as today, The American media played a major role in spreading the idea that America was not only losing the war, but was also routinely committing the most barbaric war atrocities.

Ultimately, the increasingly stridant liberal outcries against the war, combined with the weakening of a scandal-plagued President Nixon, undermined all American efforts to continue to support the war effort. As part of the deal with both North and South Vietnam that provided the pretext of an “honorable withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Vietnam in 1973, the Nixon administration promised the South Vietnamese a continuation of supplies, logistical support, and even air strikes as needed to stop Communist incursions into South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese naïvely believed the pledge of support. But the North Vietnamese, realizing that America had grown weary with the war in Vietnam, quickly broke every one of the few promises they had made. When hostilities resumed, the Democrat controlled Congress refused to fund America’s national promise.

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam continued fighting the North for two more years as President Ford pleaded with the Democratic Congress to fund the relief effort. The Democrats sent a denial: in so doing, they were sentencing millions of Vietnamese allied with America to death, prison, or life on the run as refugees.

The footage of the last American helicopter taking off from the embassy compound as thousands of terrorized Vietnamese watched and begged for help epitomized America’s abandoment of its commitment and will literally live in infamy.

To better describe the cowardly American betrayal and the holocuast that followed, I cite the final paragraph of DiscoverTheNetworks (at http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/guideDesc.asp?catid=100&type=issue).

“The first act of the newly elected Democrat Congress was a vote to cut off funding for South Vietnam and Cambodia’s Lon Nol government in January 1975. After U.S. funding was cut, the regimes of South Vietnam and Cambodia were quickly overrun by the communists, who would go on to slaughter some 2.5 million Indochinese peasants.”

That number – shocking as it is – is undoubtedly quite low. Nearly two million human beings in this murderous tally would come from Cambodia and the Killing Fields of Pol Pot in 1975 alone. As for the holocaust that was to befall South Vietnam, John E. Carey – beseeching America not to make the same mistake yet again – writes, “When America left Vietnam in 1975, the communists came south, sweeping away the former South Vietnam, and imprisoning or killing untold numbers of freedom-loving Vietnamese. More than 900,000 South Vietnamese were sent to concentration camps. Millions lost everything: homes, family, jobs and all possessions. A vast migration called the Vietnam Diaspora ensued. Something like three million people left Vietnam, many in small, undependable boats. Many of these “boat people“ succumbed to starvation, the ravages of the sea, or murdering pirates.”

The wikipedia article on the Army of the Republic of Vietnam takes up the theme of the historic lesson of precipitous withdrawel and abandonment. “Without the necessary funds and a collapse in South Vietnamese troop and civilian morale, South Vietnam found it impossible to defeat the North Vietnamese army. Moreover, the withdrawal of U.S. aid encouraged North Vietnam to begin an intense military offensive against South Vietnam. This was strengthened by the fact that while Nixon had promised Thieu a “severe retaliation” if the Communists broke the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, the new American administration [i.e. the new Democrat-controlled Congress] did not think itself bound to this promise.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_of_the_Republic_of_Vietnam

Numerous American and international experts have repeatedly pointed out that any precipitous withdrawel from Iraq will undoubtedly result in a brand new bloodbath as violent jihadism takes root and the fragile Shiite-Sunni relationship ruptures into violence. Furthermore, they point out that this abandonment will damage U.S. credibility for years to come – and far more than it did after we abandoned Vietnam in 1975.

William Shawcross – who saw the hell Vietnam descended into after America left – warns against inflicting the same disaster on Iraq.  In the same way that Vietnam was one major battle in an overall war against violent communist totalitarian expansion by armed revolution, Iraq is one major battle in the war against a growing fascistic form of Islam.

Make no mistake: violent Islamic jihadism has been exponentially building for over sixty years, beginning with the rise of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egyptan prisons. The United States was brutally introduced to the building threat of Islamic militarism beginning with the in 1979 Iranian Revolution and subsequent seizing of American hostages taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and again with the 1983 Bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. Throughout the Clinton Administration, the United States suffered repeated attacks on its sovereign territory, from the 1st World Trade Center bombing on 26 February 1993, to the simultaneous 8 July 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa, to the 12 October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. In addition to these attacks, the 3 October 1993 “Blackhawk Down” ambush by Muslim warlord Mohammed Adid’s forces – and the humiliating withdrawel – must also be noted.

The 9/11 attacks – as terrible as they were – would have been far more terrible had they been carried out with weapons of mass destruction. Rather than sustaining 3,000 deaths, 30,000, 300,000, or even 3,000,000 Americans could become casualties. Therefore the United States policy became 1) the pursuit of the terrorists who attacked us; and 2) the pursuit of anti-U.S. governments that had the willingness and ability to arm terrorists with WMD.

Iraq, which was known to have had WMD (they used them repeatedly on their own people) also had ties to terror (for example, Saddam Hussein paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; U.S. intelligence found evidence of senior-level links between Iraq and terrorists including al Qaeda; terrorist camps inside Iraq trained thousands of terrorists – including al Qaeda terrorists – under Saddam’s rule; and former Clinton administration CIA director James Woolsey believes that Ramsay Yousef – who participated in the first World Trade Center bombing and who entered the United States on a forged Iraqi passport, was an agent of Iraqi intelligence).

Under the Bush doctrine, it was simply unacceptable to allow the possibility of terrorists obtaining WMD. “You are either with us or against us” was a statement that the vague, nebulous policy of indecision would be replaced by an active defense of the United States. And the most likely scenario of terrorists obtaining such weapons was that an anti-American, pro-Islamic nation-state would provide weapons of mass destruction.

President Bush therefore – under the valid authorities of both the ceasefire agreement won by President George H.W. Bush and by the U.N. resolutions – demanded that Iraq totally destroy its WMD program and open itself to inspection that it had done so. Saddam Hussein refused (some have speculated that he did not want to reveal that his country was essentially declawed in the hostile Arab landscape). In any event, without that confirmation, President Bush followed through with his “… or else” and invaded.

There was another motivation to the invasion of Iraq, however. Many believed that if Saddam could be deposed, and a pro-democratic government could be implemented in the heart of the Islamic world, that a powerful alternative to the militant Islamicism that was increasingly dominating the Islamic world could be created. Iraq was as good of a candidate for such an experiment as any: it was officially secular; it had a higher level of education than most other Arab states; and it offered more rights to women than most Arab states.

Thus there was a negative reason to invade as well as a legitimate hope for a positive outcome following an invasion.

Five years and counting after the invasion, it is now widely acknowledged that we went in with too small of a force for the subsequent occupation/counter-insurgency, and that we allowed the social and political structure of Iraq to deteriorate far more than we should have as a result.

Previous failures acknoweledged, it remains the case that the relatively new strategy of the surge has demonstrated that American forces can remain in Iraq with few casualties. We therefore need to ignore Democrats’ demands to cut and run – whether on a timetable for “organized” withdrawel or otherwise – and remain a powerful presence in Iraq, or we will be doomed to repeat some very bad history.

It has taken time, blood, and determination, but American forces in Iraq have gradually but steadily won the loyalty and support of increasing numbers of Iraqis, most significantly the sheiks. We won their cooperation by promising that we would not abandon them, that we would stick by them, that we would offer our aid. If we go back on our promises now – and abandom these brave men and women to their deaths – we will lose credibility with potential Arab allies throughout the Islamic world. And it is unlikely that we will ever be able to regain it.

Allow me to end with two historic withdrawels, and the mindset of our enemies who determined to use our lack of resolve against us.

Bui Tin, a member of the North Vietnamese General Staff, was interviewed in Wall Street Journal on Thursday, 3 August 1995. Part of the interview reads as follows:

“Question: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?
Answer: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi

Minh said, “We don’t need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out.”

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi’s victory?
A: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?
A: Keenly.

Q: Why?
A: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.”
http://www.grunt.com/scuttlebutt/corps-stories/vietnam/north.asp

In his 1996 “Declaration of War Against the Americans,” Osama bin Laden cited the U.S. retreat from Somalia in 1993 and went on to say: “You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew. The extent of your impotence and weaknesses has become very clear,” he said. “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

“We have seen in the last decade the decline of American power and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars, but unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut in 1983 when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia (in 1993).”
http://www.jfednepa.org/mark%20silverberg/papertiger.html

Osama bin Laden went on television to say, “This proves the U.S. is a paper tiger.”

Leaving Iraq without establishing a free and stable Iraq will prove Osama bin Laden right, which means terrorists and rogue nations will know they can defeat us simply by piling up enough bodies – if necessary the bodies of their own people. It remains up to the collective will of the American people to prove him wrong. Abandoning Iraq simply must not be an option.

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