Iraq War – Should we Leave? Part III

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

In the last note in this series I looked at the history of our defeat in Vietnam. Like the war in Iraq, many on the anti-war side saw the United States as an invading power and that if we would only leave, the conflict would end. As one leaflet calling for mass demonstrations put it, “Our goal is to force the government to get out of Indochina and allow the Indochinese people the life, peace, and independence they deserve.” Others saw Vietnam as a civil war and we should not get in the middle of it. All opponents seemed to agree that there was no way to win. All seem to portray the people of Vietnam, not as threaten by a communist takeover, but threaten by United State Army which they commonly spit on and label baby killers. I did not enter the Air Force until 1975, just at the end of this period so I missed the worst of it, but can remember being told not to wear my uniform off base as it was not safe.

The North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin, who was the first high-ranking communist to enter Saigon in 1975, had a different view. According to Tin, the limited nature of the war, and the anti-war movement were key to the North’s victor. As Tin later wrote, “If Johnson had granted Westmoreland’s requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.” As Tin explained, concerning the bombing that was done, it “was expanded in slow stages under Johnson and it didn’t worry us. We had plenty of time to prepare alternative routes and facilities.”

As for the anti-war Movement, Tin wrote, “Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9AM to follow the growth of the antiwar movement.” Particularly encouraging were the visit to Vietnam of anti-war activist such Jane Fonda. These visits, “gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses.” The North Vietnamese leadership saw the anti-war movement as “part of it’s war- making capability, and we [turned] that power in our favor.”

Al Qaeda also has taken note of the lesson of Vietnam. Their second in command, al Zawahiri has said that “The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy.” Noteworthy indeed. When the last helicopter left the US embassy in Saigon tens of thousands of those who had supported and worked with, and counted on the US were left behind. Many were killed, tens of thousands were executed. Hundreds of thousands were place into “re-education camps” where they were horribly tortured, and not just the tough interrogation methods the liberal media currently likes to labels as torture, but actual torture.

Like the North Vietnamese, al Zawahiri also knows that the most important battles for them will not be on the battlefields. Like North Vietnam, al Qaeda has no hope of actually defeating the U.S. militarily. Thus he has said “that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” For similar reasons Osama bin Laden believes that al Qaeda will defeat the United State because, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” He clearly sees the United States as a weak horse that runs away when things get tough. In addition to Vietnam he cites the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon 1983 where “two explosions made you leave.”

He also cites “Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American soldiers into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal.”

So now, the Democrats proclaiming defeat, and demanding withdrawal out of Iraq not only encourage our enemies, it demoralizes our potential allies. Al Zawahiri’s statement about how we left Vietnam was not just a message to his supporters, it was a warning to any who might be thinking about supporting the United States. One of the things that virtually everyone agrees on is that to succeed in Iraq will take the support of the Iraqi people. But if you where an Iraqi, would you be willing to step forward and risk not only your life, but the lives of your family, on the belief that the United States will not leave Iraq as it left Vietnam, and left Lebanon, and left Somalia? When Iraqis see news reports of Americans calling for us to get out of Iraq now, and the Majority leader of the Senate saying that the U.S. has already lost, how can that not be seen as a confirmation of Osama bin Laden’s claim that America is the “weak horse.”

If Iraq is added to the list of places were the US cut and ran, then just where will we fight the terrorists? Afghanistan? If so, why wouldn’t those seeking to defeat us in Iraq, simply follow us to Afghanistan with the belief that when the death toll climbs there, so will the calls to get out of Afghanistan. Why would the Afghans risk their lives to support us given our record of cutting and running as soon as the casualties climb? In short leaving Iraq would be the greatest confirmation Bin Laden could hope for, that we really are the weak horse. Sure one can argue that he is wrong, and that we will fight, but the question remains, where?

Jul 9th, 2007

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