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Saturday, January 27, 2007
A Valid Iraq/Vietnam Comparison

Mark Steyn points out:

Senator Ted Kennedy trotted out the old Vietnam "quagmire" analogies but added a new charge, bizarrely formulated: "In Vietnam," he recalled, "the White House grew increasingly obsessed with victory, and increasingly divorced from the will of the people and any rational policy."

"Obsessed with victory"? In the history of warfare, most parties have been "obsessed with victory" to one degree or another, ever since Caveman Ug first clubbed Caveman Glug. If you're not "obsessed with victory," you probably shouldn't have got into the war in the first place. It would be more accurate to say that Kennedy and his multiplying ilk are obsessed with defeat, and they're prepared to do what's necessary to help inflict it. The famous photographs of the departing choppers lifting off from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon with pleading locals clinging to the undercarriage are images not just of defeat but also of the betrayals necessary to accomplish it.

In fact, to the Left, those images are considered victory (as Steyn points out later).

To be sure, not everyone was abandoned. The U.S. ambassador sportingly offered asylum to a former Cambodian prime minister, Sirik Matak. "I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion," he replied. "I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty." As O'Sullivan adds: "It was worse than that. In the final hours, America switched sides." Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and was murdered by the Khmer Rouge, but so were another 1.7 million people, and in a pile of skulls that high it's hard to remember this or that individual. Still, it's startling, given the appalling slaughter that arose in the wake of "peace," to find vulgar braggarts like John Kerry and Pinch Sulzberger (the New York Times publisher) still preening and congratulating themselves for their stance three decades later.

James Webb, who was a hero in Vietnam but seems determined to emulate Kerry and Sulzberger this time around, rejects the comparisons.

No one knows the tragic story of America in Vietnam better than Jim Webb, first as a Marine, then as a writer. So the newly elected Democratic senator from Virginia--a fierce opponent of the war in Iraq--wants to keep Vietnam out of the debate over Iraq. "As much as possible, we need to keep this debate away from Vietnam," Webb said last week. Iraq "is not a parallel situation." But Webb feared that many who supported the Vietnam war, and watched America abandon South Vietnam as it grew close to victory over the Communist forces of North Vietnam, might see similarities.
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