Mark Steyn has a great new column up. Here is an excerpt:
“As the New York Times put it, “In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.”
Well, it had a “few negative repercussions” for America’s allies in South Vietnam, who were promptly overrun by the North. And it had a “negative repercussion” for former Cambodian Prime Minister Sirik Matak, to whom the U.S. ambassador sportingly offered asylum. “I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion,” Matak told him. “I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty … . I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans.” So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with about 2 million other people. If it’s hard for individual names to linger in the New York Times’ “historical memory,” you’d think the general mound of corpses would resonate.
President Assad understood something that too many Americans didn’t. Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it’s only about the place you’re fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The “Vietnam war” was about Vietnam, if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon.
But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is. Osama bin Laden made a bet – that, notwithstanding the T-shirt slogan, “These Colors Do Run”: They ran from Vietnam, and they ran from the helicopters in the desert, and from Lebanon and Somalia – and they will run from Iraq and Afghanistan, because that is the nature of a soft, plump ersatz-superpower that coils up in the fetal position if you prick its toe. Even Republicans like Sen. John Warner seem peculiarly anxious to confirm the bin Laden characterization.
Depending on which Americans you ask, “Vietnam” can mean entirely different things. To the New York Times and the people it goes to dinner parties with, it had “few negative repercussions.”
-2 Million People Dead.
-American Credibility Demolished.
“few negative repercussions.”