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Compare Iraq to Vietnam? Bet to It!

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
August 20, 2006

It's fashionable for those on the left of the political spectrum to compare our involvement in Iraq to Vietnam. The problem is that when they do so, they put their own political spin on the comparison, using the same words they used in the 1970s to describe what's going on now in Iraq. When seen through the leftist filter of terms such as "quagmire" and "unwinnable war," it might indeed seem as though we are once again bogged down in a conflict half a world away whose outcome promises only negative results.

The reality is, however, that it was leftist communist sympathizers, including Democrats and newscasters and political wanna-bes such as John Kerry (it's not coincidental that the Democrats put forth in John Kerry a Presidential candidate whose actions during a time of war were arguably treasonous), who managed to frame the debate more than 30 years ago. And they're attempting to frame the debate on Iraq in the same terms today.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We lost the War in Vietnam in no small part because we allowed ourselves to be swayed by the defeatism of the Left; we will stay the course in Iraq precisely because we learned our lesson from Vietnam and we will not let ourselves be sold the leftist-Democrat program, implemented to such disastrous effect in Vietnam, of withdrawal and retreat and defeat.

For this reason, we should welcome the Democrats' and their hard-left constituents' inaccurate characterizations of the current mideast war as a chance to both correct the record on Vietnam and reframe the War in Iraq. We should salute the analogy of the Vietnam War to the current conflict in Iraq as providing precisely the opportunity we've been seeking to demonstrate how the Left in America convinced us to "lose" the War in Vietnam, and how to listen to them today would be tantamount to political suicide.

Indeed, to elect Democrats even to a majority position in the House of Representatives would be to open ourselves up to an attack from within that would make what Islamist terrorists are capable of pale by comparison.

* * * * *

It can certainly be argued that Jimmy Carter's election to the Presidency in 1976 was largely a response to the perceived "immorality" of the Nixon administration; Carter was, if nothing else, the illegitimate spawn of Watergate. But Carter's election was also an ill-advised referendum on the Vietnam War. Never mind that Richard Nixon capitulated to leftist Democrats in withdrawing our troops and sealing the ignominious fate of South Vietnam, a fate which included the brutal murder of tens of thousands of its citizens by the North Vietnamese. The Left has never flinched where innocents are murdered in the interest of advancing their agenda.

No, the Left took its revenge a giant step further, electing in Jimmy Carter a President who sold American interests down the river from Iran in the Middle East to the Panama Canal in Central America. Wherever he managed to implement his disastrous vision, Carter made sure that American interests, and those of freedom-loving people around the world, were put at dangerous risk. Indeed, Carter can legitimately be called "The Father of Modern Islamist Terrorism" for his part in overthrowing the government of the Shah of Iran and ceding it to the murderous Ayatollah Khomeini.

* * * * *

For some four decades after World War II we (the United States) were engaged in a "Cold War" against the forces of international communism. We were drawn into military conflicts in Korea and Vietnam in response to communist imperialist expansionism. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev slammed his shoe on the podium from which he was speaking and shouted at America, "We will destroy you!" Iranian Premier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared, albeit somewhat less theatrically, "We will drive Israel into the sea!" And let it be clear that Israel is in this case a proxy for western democracy, the United States in particular.

The international situation we confront today presents nothing less than a stunning and instructive parallel to that we faced some 60 years ago. If the enemy then was imperialist communism, the enemy today is imperialist Islam. If the proxies of the enemy tended half a century ago to take the form of nation-states, the enemy's proxies today have morphed into what can be called "militia-states." Such entities as Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and Hamas are proxies for the forces of imperialistic Islamist regimes (particularly Iran and Syria) in much the same way the North Korean and North Vietnamese regimes were proxies for imperialist communism half a century ago.

The parallels hardly end there. During the 1960s and early '70s, there was a decidedly leftist, pro-communist tint to the information an overwhelming majority of Americans received via network television nightly news broadcasts. Walter Cronkite became something of a grandfatherly figure, distorting for the advancement of leftist ends in soothing yet authoritative tones the version of the war that reached America's living rooms.

Today, the Big Five networks (they've grown to include not only broadcast giants NBC, CBS, and ABC, but also cable players CNN and MSNBC) spew much the same left-tinged cant as their forbears generated three decades ago. The kicker is that today they — and the leftist agenda they support — face a challenge from conservative radio talk show hosts and conservative internet pundits, as well as the lone beacon of light among cable news outlets, Fox News.

No longer does the tainted version of events Americans are "allowed" to receive go unchallenged. And that's precisely why the analogy between the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq, while instructive, is ultimately not applicable.

Americans are no longer in the dark with regard to the account of events they receive. No longer does the Left dominate the narrative of what is happening in the world that reaches the American public. If Dan Rather (breathes there a more audaciously left-leaning purveyor of information than Rather . . . unless you include his CBS predecessor Walter Cronkite, that is?) had had his way, we'd all have swallowed the blatantly and shamelessly forged documents on which Rather based his false assertions that our President had avoided service in Vietnam through high-level shenanigans. As it was, Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes, both unapologetic to the end, were summarily dismissed from the CBS news team.

If nothing else, this episode characterizes the differences between the War in Vietnam and the War in Iraq. In Vietnam, we (the American citizens) were not allowed access to what was really occurring on the ground. We received only a left-skewed version of that war via a media hegemony already, even at that time, beholden to leftist political interests.

And while today a similarly distorted version of events of the War in Iraq is still perpetrated by the so-called mainstream media, those of us who seek a less-biased account have many more venues through which we can choose to view world events. It's no longer the case that we're held prisoner to the leftist rendering of the world that prevailed during the Vietnam era.

After Jimmy Carter ceded the political (and moral, if you want to know the truth of Carter's leftist-relativist agenda in this regard) high ground to murderous tyrants in the Middle East, it was left to President Ronald Reagan to right the ship of state through his insistence on "peace through strength." It was precisely through the reinvigoration of the American spirit and the re-validation of the American military that Reagan was able to effect the change in the international political dynamic that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire, the very enemy the Democratic left told us we could not defeat only a decade earlier in Vietnam.

Today, after roughly a decade in which a Democrat President (Bill Clinton) weakened the American military and appeased through negotiation and military withdrawal the terrorist forces that were even then planning their strategy and massing their military strength for nothing less than an all-out assault on the west, we're faced with an emboldened enemy, a terrorist movement that has direct support from Iran and Syria (and indirect support from North Korea and Venezuela). Throw in the fact that Israel's accommodationist Likkud Party Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, lacked the vision and will to use the 35 days granted Israel to inflict truly devastating military losses on Hezbollah, and you've got the makings of another Cold War.

The current Cold War is characterized by an uncanny number of similarities to that of the one we waged during the second half of the last century. First, we face any number of certifiably insane national leaders. Where their names were Khrushchev and Mao and Ho Chi Minh and Kim half a century ago, today they are Ahmadinejad and Khomenei and Chavez and, uh, Kim (some things don't change).

And the aims of these wack-jobs are virtually identical to those of their dictatorial predecessors: Destroy western capitalist democracy; eliminate political and religious freedom of choice; and impose on all of the people of our planet a murderous and restrictive ideology that denigrates the values of love and creativity and forgiveness and stifles the human spirit.

It is precisely this that our Islamist enemy — as did our communist foe in the last century — seeks to bring about. And it is precisely this against which we are waging a war that has the most profound implications for our collective future.
Such long-term wars — and make no mistake about it, we're engaged in a very long-term war against Islamist terrorism and its tyrannical cohorts — require nothing less than a profound commitment to defend the values and principles on which our nation, and western democracies throughout the world, are founded.
It is precisely for this reason that we must not let down our guard. In this case, the phrase "let down our guard" means that we must not fall prey to a version of events similar in its leftist bias to the one Walter Cronkite and his confederates managed to present with regard to the American military effort during the Vietnam era.
The parallels between the Vietnam war and the War in Iraq are eerily similar. It is up to us to analyze what we did wrong more than 30 years ago and to apply the lessons we learn toward prevailing in the current conflict.

Among the most important things I hope we have learned is not to listen to those on the left who would spread a message of retreat and defeat. It is only through maintaining a strong and vigilant military presence against our declared enemy, and not giving in to the insistence of those on the left that we capitulate to Islamist terrorism, that we will again prevail in the current "Cold War," this time against Islamo-Fascism.


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