11.21.05

Iraq, Outside Commentary

Buchanan: “Vietnam Syndrome” is back


Pat Buchanan strikes an interesting tone in this article about the recurrence of “Vietnam Syndrome” in America. He’s been firmly against the war in Iraq from the start, but Buchanan is also a patriot and a nationalist, so he is hard-pressed to revel in the rise in anti-war sentiment, since it means the near-certain undoing of what, for better or worse, was a big project and goal of the U.S.: successful regime change in Iraq.

Part of what puts Buchanan in a strange position is the fact that he was a part of the Nixon administration during America’s last giant quagmire, and by necessity, he became invested in the idea of putting a positive spin on that war, and hoping for its success. When I have heard him speak on TV about Vietnam, he has conveyed the idea that it was lost due to a failure of will on the part of the American people. Which may in fact be the case, but only when considered in the context of just what it is that the American people were expected to have the will for– i.e., the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in order to change the leadership in a foreign land, with dubious prospects for long-term success.

Buchanan proposes that that “malady” is upon the American populace again, and he suggests that there’s generally only one way to cure it: an unsatisfying and potentially disastrous withdrawal from Iraq before it’s “done”.

He does raise the obvious point that is begged by all this– is it a lack of will from the public or a lack of leadership from the president that is at fault here?– but it comes up briefly and is dismissed as irrelevant in a practical sense. Which, at least as far as Iraq goes, it is. That dynamic is under way, and determining whoever is to “blame” won’t stop it.

However, to the extent that there is a “Vietnam Syndrome”– a distaste and impatience for foreign wars of dubious purpose — future U.S. leaders would do well to factor that into their war planning. I was only alive for about two years of Vietnam, but even I saw this Iraq strain of Vietnam Syndrome coming from a mile away. And if you plan to use U.S. forces and U.S. tax dollars to pursue a given mission, and your mission is going to be long and somewhat murky, the onus is on you, as the leader, to ensure that your citizens are willing to support that full, murky, potentially unsatisfying mission. All other matters aside– if a leader is going to expect support for a war that lasts years, costs thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and provides long stretches of uncertainty, that leader must have a cause and a mission that will engender such support. And that’s not a small matter. The success of the mission depends on it.

And if Americans “don’t have the stomach” for all that it would take to remake Iraq (and let’s not forget Afghanistan), then what of a bigger plan to remake the Middle East? What of the neoconservative desire to exert similar control in other parts of the globe?

Buchanan’s prediction, if Iraq fails, is this:

As for Bush, a retreat from Iraq and defeat there would mean a failed presidency. The Bush Doctrine of employing U.S. power to unhorse dictators and impose democracy will be dead.

America will adopt a new non-interventionist foreign policy, except where vital U.S. interests are imperiled. The tragedy is that we did not do, voluntarily, 15 years ago, what a foolish, failing neoconservative foreign policy may now force us to do in the not-too-distant future.


The malady recurs
WorldNetDaily
© 2005 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Posted: November 21, 2005

——————————————————————————–

Despite America’s triumph in Desert Storm and Tommy Frank’s brilliant run up to Baghdad, the Vietnam Syndrome is with us yet.

We never really purged it from our system.

That is the meaning of 40 Senate votes on a resolution demanding that President Bush give quarterly progress reports and a timetable for getting us out of Iraq. While 58 senators voted no on timetables, they bought into the rest of the resolution.

And what is the message? We are not going deeper into Iraq, as McCain urges. We are not going to stay the course, as Bush insists. America is coming home. It is but a matter of time.

My college dictionary defines syndrome as “a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality.”

Symptoms of the Vietnam Syndrome, clearly visible now, include a deepening divide in the country, a new savagery in politics, a reluctance to spend more blood in a cause in which one no longer believes, wounded protests that one was deceived and the portrayal of one’s loss of nerve as a principled advance toward a higher moral plane.

With 57 percent of the nation no longer believing Bush an honest and truthful man, and 60 percent believing Iraq was a mistake and we should start bringing the troops home, it is impossible to see how the president can sustain the war effort. The Senate Democrats have gone over the hill, and the Republicans only await the bugle call to retreat.

And the enemy is not stupid. They can see the American home front crumbling and know that if they can hold on, they will not much longer be facing 150,000 U.S. troops.

America’s problem is that, while we are not losing this war, we have not crushed the insurgency. And if a guerrilla army does not lose, it wins. The only way America can win this war is with a massive infusion of U.S. troops. Yet, even John McCain is not advocating that.

America appears unwilling to pay the price in blood, money and years to achieve what Bush calls victory. Whether that represents a failure of will on the part of the American people or a failure of leadership on the part of President Bush, the result is the same.

What caused the nation to turn against the war and our war president needs to be studied for what it tells us about ourselves as a people.

We Americans are lousy imperialists. We lack the patience and perseverance. We will not support the daily loss of American lives, with pictures of the fallen on television every night and in the paper every day, unless we are persuaded something vital is at risk. And who rules Iraq is not something Americans are willing to bleed or die for indefinitely.

But as the air is full of allegations of lying, we at least need to tell ourselves the truth about what we are inviting, what we are risking, if, as seems possible now, America should lose this war.

One certainty is that many Iraqis who cast their lot with us will pay the price Algerians loyal to France paid when the French departed in 1962. And if the U.S. Army and Marine Corps could not crush an insurgency in three years, it is difficult to see how an Iraqi army, trained by the U.S. Army and Marines, can do the job.

Thus, the United States must accept the possibility, if not probability, that our enemies will control the Sunni Triangle and contest Baghdad, thus leading to breakup of the nation and civil war. For the Kurds and Shia are not going to accept Sunni rule again.

America would aid the Kurds and Iran the Shia in any such war. The Sunni would look to fellow Arabs for help, the price of which might be the head of Zarqawi. As for the impact of any such war on oil prices, the only question is how devastating it would be.

Here at home, there would be years of bitter recrimination, as there were after Korea and Vietnam. The Democrats might do well to recall the fate of their fathers who voted to take us into Vietnam, then to cut off funding for the war. Between 1968 and 1988, Democrats lost the presidency in five of six elections, ruined their reputation as reliable custodians of the national security and lost the nation to Reaganism.

As for Bush, a retreat from Iraq and defeat there would mean a failed presidency. The Bush Doctrine of employing U.S. power to unhorse dictators and impose democracy will be dead.

America will adopt a new non-interventionist foreign policy, except where vital U.S. interests are imperiled. The tragedy is that we did not do, voluntarily, 15 years ago, what a foolish, failing neoconservative foreign policy may now force us to do in the not-too-distant future.

© 2005 Creators Syndicate Inc.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Related entires:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function related_posts() in /home4/lancebr/public_html/pnac/wp-content/themes/a-blog-apart-062-en/single.php on line 52