Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Repeat After Me: Iraq Is Not Vietnam, No Matter How Hard The Left Wants It To Be.

The Daily Kos (no link from me, I like to keep my hands clean) posted a rebuttal to all the euphoria about the Iraq elections. He quoted a 1967 New York Times article talking about the high turnout in South Vietnam's presidential elections.

I can't add much to Jonah's response:

And the guy's point is....what, exactly? That we were right to abandon our Vietnamese allies? That we should do the same to Iraqis? That the left wing of his party hasn't been moved by the democratic aspirations of those facing totalitarianism for four decades? Or maybe his point is to illustrate that the only foreign policy prism he and his kind can see through is Vietnam, even though the two conflicts have exactly nothing in common -- save their ability to elicit incoherent rage and bad historical analogies from the left.
The Left loses no sleep over the abandonment of the Vietnamese, so why should we?

I understand that in the school of Realpolitik, the concept of guilt should not enter into international relations. Nations are not people, they do not have emotions, and their obligations are determined purely by their national interests. Altruism is sometimes in the national interest, but sometimes it is not.

That said, I personally do not subscribe to the school of Realpolitik. I *do* think that America has an obligation to the people we've promised our help to. Whether they were the South Vietnamese, or the Shia in 1991, or the Kurds afterwards. Or Israel today. When we have failed-- or, more accurately, *chosen* to fail-- it is unavoidably a moral stain on our country.

The Left long ago decided to abdicate any consideration of morality as it exists in the world today. They would rather have their utopia than settle for "good enough," hence their endless opposition to anything that falls short of their utopia. They'll glibly trot out "Never Again" as a tool to bash their own government's policies, but when our government says "Never Again," it can only be for the most nefarious of intents.

Like it or not, the Iraqis are depending on us, for their very *lives*. If they don't need our help, we can step aside. If they need our help, we must help.

During the 2004 campaign Senator Kerry spoke often about the "Pottery Barn rule": you break, you buy it. Well, how come whenever America break the pots, Senator Kerry and his friends are the first to rush out of the store?

Can someone please tell me why the Left-- always willing to paint a sign talking about standing with the oppressed peoples of the world-- why the Left is never willing to stand alongside those they can't stand themselves?

Oh, but nations do have emotions; when enough of a nation's people experience an emotion, then the nation exhibits it. That is why Vietnam is such a sore subject, and always will be, because a majority of Americans believe that we behaved irresponsibly, that we abandoned the South to its fate despite our promises not to. The same was true for some (including me) in 1991; after we encouraged the Iraqis to revolt, we stood there with our hands in our pockets and watched them be slaughtered. We knew that was wrong even if it didn't seem to be in the nation's interests one way or another.

Or at least people of a certain mindset felt that these things were wrong. Conservatives, who spend more time looking back than progressives, seem to be much more attuned to such traditional values as honor, and duty, and personal responsibility. We think that our nation should share these values, and we lament when it does not.

Progressives, on the other hand, seem to spend so much time looking forward that they lose sight of the past. They fail to see the incremental progress from one era to another, instead focusing on how far from the goal they are. This leads to frustration and impatience, which in turn leads to disillusionment. It is a short step to depression, where you lose the ability to function, going through the motions of daily activity but not really participating in the present.

Doesn't it seem that "evil" conservatives are much more optimistic and upbeat than "pious" liberals?
I fail to really get the whole comparison to Viet Nam as well. Other than both being land wars in Asia there really isn't much else to compare. Some coincidental parallels, possibly, but you can find those in just about anything if you look hard enough.
Even if I had a sudden change of heart (or, more probably, a lobotomy) and decided that I wanted to be a leftist, I realize that I don't have the Arts & Crafts chops to make it. Signs, paintings, costumes, big damn puppets, it's like they are all 6th grade art teachers. I was barely able to put on a nice jacket before I went off to see Bush speak last year, these guys have the time and energy to whip up a twelve foot long diorama and paper mache Cheney-eating-puppies float.

This has only the most casual relationship to the topic you posted, but I was reminded of it as I read that bit about sign painting.
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