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The Vietnam analogy

Amitava Mazumdar writes that one aspect of the Iraq/Vietnam analogy may be valid:

It's pretty clear to me what these men are doing. The prospect that the Iraq project will come off successfully looks increasingly dim. So dim, that the nation's most visible war proponents have begun distancing themselves from the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

But they aren't admitting that the whole idea of the unilateral occupation and rebuilding of Iraq was an awful idea. They're arguing that if only the Bush administration spent enough money and sent enough troops, things would turn out as sunny as Kristol, Kagan, Pearl, and Sullivan had always predicted.

This is, of course, what the Vietnam War hawks said after we belatedly abandoned that costly effort. The lesson we should have taken from that war was that no matter how many troops we sent, or how many more billions of dollars we spent, we could not win the Vietnam War because the Vietnamese did not want us to win it, or at least did not care who won it. The history of Western occupation throughout Asia, should have taught us the same lesson.

But Kristol, Kagan, Pearl, and Sullivan never learned that lesson. They were seduced by the myth of the inevitable success of all things American. If they were honest and honorable, they would admit their error: that the number of troops and amount of money necessary to rebuild Iraq was predictably unaffordable, and that's only after adopting the dubious assumption that the occupation ever had any chance of success at all. Instead, they are retreating to a defense that conveniently cannot be disproved: if Bush did everything their way, everything would have gone well.

As they say, read the whole thing.


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