Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where pundits fail - the real lesson of Vietnam

Lawrence Haas in The Examiner posts yet another warning to Democrats about the lessons of Vietnam. He trots out the oft repeated refrain that the Democrats lost their standing when they finally ended that ill-fated war by Congressional fiat and subsequent events proved our adversaries were emboldened by our dovish stance and went on to wreak havoc in the world. Haas lays out the conventional wisdom.
Just as Soviet expansionism in the late 1970s reminded America that the Cold War was still on, so may the aftermath of Iraq remind Americans of the larger struggle at hand.
Haas apparently doesn't remember that didn't work out so well for the Soviets. Their misadventure in Afghanistan bankrupted them and eventually weakened them to the point where they lost significant status as a world power. Today the USSR doesn't even exist and it didn't cost us billions and potentially trillions of dollars and buckets of blood to achieve. Their own hubris took them down. Perhaps we should look to a lesson in that as we bleed our own troops and treasury on the same sort of imperial adventure. Hass goes on:
Clearly, a failure in Iraq will create a haven for terrorists, including those from al-Qaida whom we are fighting there today. It will create a regional power vacuum to be filled by an increasingly emboldened Iran, which is stoking the fires in Iraq while ignoring international efforts to stop its nuclear program.
Maybe Haas should take off those rose colored glasses for a moment and look at the reality on the ground. Iraq is already a haven for terrorists, where it wasn't before and the administration's ill-advised strategies are directly responsible for the enhanced position of Iran today. If we hadn't bombed Iraq out of stability into chaos, Iran would still he held at bay by its arch-enemy, the now crudely beheaded Saddam. And still Hass goes on with his fantastical view.
The world will grow more dangerous, not less. Failure in Iraq, leading to an exodus of U.S. forces, will provide merely the illusion of peace. The terrorists will challenge the United States in more places around the world while plotting to bring more turmoil to our homeland.
The world has already become infinitely more dangerous since Bush took office. Terrorist attacks have risen to phenomenal rates all over the world and just yesterday some fringe nutjob AQ cell in Saudi Arabia, who I remind you are our allies, called for attacks on US interests worldwide. If anything has emboldened the radical fringe of Islamic jihadists, it has been a foreign policy based on a "bring 'em on" mentality that goaded them into answering the President's challenge.

These doomsday predictions for the Democratic Party seem to appear with regularity but while the lessons in military strategy may be valid, the analogies simply don't work in terms of political ramifications. Militarily, the lesson is military might can't win against a determined group of guerrilla fighters who have no trouble recruiting as long as their people are being killed by foreign powers.

But the analogies fail on the political ramifications of taking a rational and diplomatic approach to world affairs in the internet age. There are no historical precedents now - we're in new territory. As the lead character in the TV program House is fond of saying, "Everybody lies." All governments have lied to their people from the beginning of time but the difference now is that it's not so easy to cover it up.

It took 40 years for the lie that resulted in the Gulf of Tonkin resolution to be exposed. It took only 3 years to expose the Bush administration's WMD claims to be false to the majority of the public's satisfaction. The Republicans succeeded in painting the Democratic Party as soft until now because they were able to misrepresent the Dem's historical record while ignoring their own. Now that the people have the ability to review the record in its orginal form via news accounts and videotapes, instantly available on the internet, neither party will be able to hide from their past or paint over the historical record for their own ends.

If the Democratic Party fails in the future, it won't be because they "moved left" in response to the will of the people; it will be because they listened to out of touch, old guard pundits like Haas instead of heeding the people's voice.

[Thanks to The Blog Report for the link]
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out SEEPROGRESS the new video channel for the Center for American Progress.

Watch it on YouTube at

3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

3:55:00 PM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) ever since we took on Russia in the Cold WAR.

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control.

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

6:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Clearly, a failure in Iraq will create a haven for terrorists, including those from al-Qaida whom we are fighting there today"
What? Like the whole muslim world hasn't provided a haven for terrorists even before we got there? The real problem as you have continually stated is the Dems who were voted in to clean this mess up and are now sitting on the fence, afraid to make a move. Rosecolored has got it right,"Politicians make no difference." But, as you pointed out, Libby, remaining in Iraq could very well drain our resources to the point of disrupting our country's ability to function let alone prosper - not to mention the horrific loss of life suffered by American families each and every day. The Iraqis are not children and we are not the big brother of the world. Iraqis have their country back and must now work out their own government structure. It's time to come home...

6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

RCG - thanks for the comment. I hope you're right and it implodes soon. I don't we can afford to wait much longer.

Rocky - I love it when you talk like that. And I think we're getting close to the same situation that ended up taking down the USSR.

9:20:00 PM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

Here's a link to an astute article by a former consultant to the CIA. It appears in the bog. "Thomas Paine's Corner, Republic or Empire" which I follow closely.


10:55:00 AM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...


11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thanks for the link RCG.

4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosecovered, an enlightening article and great history lesson. I think we should add The Patriot Act to the excutive abuses catagory. Never before has any one president tried to undermine the Constitution so sweepingly as this illiterate, mental midget we have ensconced in our White House!

8:03:00 PM  

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