Friday, August 24, 2007

Das Boot is Bad

Max Boot that is writing in the Wall Street Journal, saying Bush's Iraq: Vietnam analogy is not wrong but does not go far enough. Interesting case of being right in one way and completely screwball wrong in the other.

Boot's point is that there were more bad lessons to be learned from having "abandoned" Vietnam than the President cited. Bush cited the Vietnamese who were killed after having supported the US. The Cambodian Killing Fields.

As historical background, remember the US troops were out of Vietnam. The Democrats cut off funding and air support to the South Vietnamese gov't, the Vietcong reneged on the prior Peace Treaty and invaded.

I don't think it was good for the US Congress to cut off funds for the support to the regime. I also think the US should never have backed up the French in the first place and gotten into the mess, but that's a different story.

The argument that is being made now therefore is not a particularly helpful one. The troops in Vietnam were already withdrawn. The Americans troops aren't. The Democrats (and now Senate Republicans) calling for withdrawal of troops are not in the same position as the 72 Democratic Congress.

Anyway, to Bush's list, Boot adds: Winning the War, Losing the Peace (Bingo: already happened, sorry Max).
--More enemy regimes/rebels than just Vietnam were "emboldened" by the US "defeat". (Mozambique, e.g.)
--Danger of Prematurely Dumping Allied Leaders (True, except Maliki and/or anyone else is useless because the central gov't has no power and Iraq doesn't exist anymore).
--Danger of not Making Plans for Refugees (agree completely. 2 million already left Iraq and the US should be right now processing people who have worked with the regime. Because we are leaving, Boot's uber hawk vision aside.

What Boot leaves out of his "complete" model is of course the following: Vietnam today after the US withdrawal, after the cutting off the funds, after the death and despair (not minimized) is a capitalist country that is helping push the rest of SouthEast Capitalist (those dominoes are now falling).

And the US won against the Soviets. No doubt there were difficulties and tragedies from the US cutting off the funds to South Vietnamese. The US shouldn't have been executing its own puppets in S. Vietnam either, just like we keep engineering the "democratic" process in Iraq.

But the Soviet curtain did fall all that considered.

The analogy might suggest that Iraq (or the countries that will emerge from the former country of Iraq) will one day be another Vietnam. Pain and change included.

That would be a more complete outlook.

There's no doubt that this withdraw from Iraq will be used as propaganda and there will be extra violence. No amount of "surging" will stop that. The US has already lost the politics or knocked down the house of cards that was the hollowed out Saddam police state. Now there are gangs, militias, and local fiefdoms.

These emboldened groups will often experience fights with each other. Or until some sort of figure/group wins out and/or a dictatorship is re-established.

This is what happens when you invade a place without an exit strategy. That's the lesson of Vietnam and Iraq.


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