Déjà Vu: Saigon 1975, Baghdad 2014

By | June 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Saigon-hubert-van-es[1]  U.S. Embassy, Saigon, 1975, being evacuated

embassy baghdadU.S. Embassy, Baghdad, 2014, preparing for evacuation?

Al Qaeda-linked ISIS jihadi forces capture Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, and Tikrit, and are advancing on Baghdad.
News report

Road littered with corpses, many decapitated.
News report

ISIS forces loot Mosul bank of $429 million, money that can be used to sponsor a vast amount of terrorism – not to mention the American-made military equipment seized from the dissolving Iraqi army.
News report

Sharia law imposed by Iraqi extremists.
News report

Iraqi army collapsing.
News report

Americans being evacuated from Iraqi air base.
News report.

The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.
− Joseph Heller

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.
− George Orwell

Freedom is never an achieved state. Like electricity, we’ve got to keep generating it, or the lights go out.
− Wayne LaPierre

History teaches that those countries that expect to win a short war end up losing a long one.
– Mackubin Thomas Owens

To those who do not know that the world is on fire, I have nothing to say.
– Bertolt Brecht

Obama seems to think that there is some force in the admonition that the world is watching; but history plentifully demonstrates that when the world is watching, all the world does is watch.
− Leon Wieseltier

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.
− Dwight D. Eisenhower

Whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place is arguable. But once we were there, we had an obligation to stay. We have stayed in Germany and Japan since 1945, and in South Korea since 1950. Prosperous, free nations resulted. If we had not stayed in South Korea, undoubtedly it would have been ingested by North Korea and would have disappeared into that dismal prison-state.
Or take the case of South Vietnam. After years of war and the loss of 58,209 American lives, the Paris “Peace” Accords were signed in 1973. The security of South Vietnam seemed assured. We promised South Vietnam further support, both military and financial. But the Democrat-controlled Congress cut off all aid, despite pleas by President Ford. Emboldened, the North Vietnamese army crossed the border with tanks in a full-fledged invasion. We sat and watched.
As Saigon fell, the last American and South Vietnamese refugees climbed a ladder to get on the last helicopter. That photo indeed was worth more than a thousand words. It told the world that it was more dangerous to be our friend than our enemy. And for the millions of South Vietnamese who had been our friends, fate was bitter indeed. Just look up “boat people.”
And now, to quote baseball great Yogi Berra:

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

I am far from being an expert on military affairs. But even I can see that the takeover of major parts of Syria and Iraq by Islamist extremists is an unmitigated disaster. Should we have gone into Iraq in the first place? We can argue that interminably. But even Barack Obama declared that Afghanistan was the “war of necessity.” How could it not be? Afghanistan – willingly or unwillingly – was taken over by the Taliban, who hosted Al Qaeda while that group planned and carried out 9/11.
So what can we conclude from the present depressing turn of events? Since this is a military subject, a bullet list seems appropriate.
● If we are attacked, as we were from Afghanistan, we have a right – a duty – to destroy the capacity of the attackers to wage war.
● When we have eliminated that capacity, we must decide whether to remain or depart.
● If the nation we have occupied has been a stable nation – as were Germany, Japan, and South Korea – we have the option to remain and foster peaceful development. A good argument can be made that this applies to Iraq. I believe we should have stayed.
● If the nation we have occupied is merely a collection of often-hostile tribes – without the unifying effects of a road network or an electrical grid – remaining is unlikely to be effective, unless we are prepared to remain for many years. This probably applies to Afghanistan.
● If we are unprepared to remain in Afghanistan for many years, what should we do? We could have overthrown the Taliban by brilliant Special Operations – which we did. We could have killed Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban government, the first night of the war, without waiting for the approval of a lawyer to use a drone – which we did not do. We could have tried to kill Bin Laden, when he may well have been in Tora Bora. We could have flattened the town from the air, or gone in with ground troops regardless of possible losses – which we also did not do.
● We then could have departed, leaving only a small force to secure our embassy and Afghan airfields. We could have promised the Afghans aid in modernizing their country – both financial and practical aid.
● Finally, we could have told the Afghans that we wanted to be their friends. But if they again allowed their land to be used to plan attacks against us, this time we would not send troops to be placed at risk. This time we would send planes to flatten their cities, just as we did to Germany and Japan.
Granted, things always seem clearer in retrospect. Whether they actually are clearer is debatable. In any case, I have run out of ammunition for my bullet list. Suffice it to say that in the extremely unlikely event that I were president, the last thing I would want would be vast portions of the Middle East and Southwest Asia in the hands of America-hating fanatics – armed with hundreds of tons of captured armaments, hundreds of millions of dollars of looted wealth, and (in the case of Iran) the escalating capacity to produce nuclear weapons. That would not make an inspiring legacy for a president.
Still, you can’t deny that we are making progress. In 1975, a Democratic Congress blocked aid to South Vietnam, rendering meaningless the deaths of 58,209 Americans. But in 2014, a Democratic president had withdrawn all troops from Iraq, rendering meaningless the deaths of “only” 4488 Americans. We are learning to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with fewer casualties. There, is that “progressive” enough for you?
If you wish, you can blame George W. Bush and those who supported him for having gone into Iraq. But the blame for what is happening after we left belongs to Barack Obama and those who support him. And all the bumper stickers reading “Peace Now” and “Arms Are For Hugging” won’t wash away even one drop of the blood from the beheaded corpses on the road to Baghdad.

 isisISIS on road to Baghdad

 road to baghdadRoad to Baghdad

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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