Tuesday, June 28, 2005

On Defeatism, Iraq, Vietnam and the Quagmire 

Teddy Kennedy is a depressed old man, who has witnessed and experienced great tragedy in his life. He has also enabled it, as a young man, and fared poorly in the ultimate tests of character which many people face in their life. He is a bitter failure; and it is sad to see play out on television. He thinks the world keeps getting worse, and in fact each day things get better.

Among the public reflections of that bitterness and depression are his defeatism in matters patriotic. My point here is not to analyze it however. It is simply to defuse it. His rantings, and those of Senator Durbin, Howard Dean and those other anti-war types are out of synch with the requirements demanded by the American electorate of an electable candidate.

Here's the thought process. It focuses on what I believe is a fundamental journalistic misunderstanding of the period from 1968-1975, our withdrawal from Vietnam, mainstream American will, and what brought about LBJ's and Nixon's political decline. The press seems to hold out that antiwar sentiment in that era, and the American population's refusal to see continued losses in Vietnam, brought about our withdrawal. That, in my opinion, is bunk.

LBJ and the JFK administration holdovers did not have the political will to sustain the Vietnam War. So they quit. Flat out quit in 1968. Nixon barely defeated Humphrey and promptly expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia. In 1972, he beat McGovern's (the Dean of his day, but who at least had served honorably in WWII) brains out in a spectacular landslide (I guess Kerry was a better candidate than McGovern). And it wasn't due to Nixon's economic policies, which were in many cases stupid (abandon Bretton Woods; price controls?!). The American people were squarely behind his conduct of the War. How else does he pound the antiwar candidate so badly (no doubt what would have happened had Bush run against Dean)? And this is after Kent State, hippie antiwar demonstrations on TV every night, and Walter Cronkite and the Smothers Brothers whining about the War.

The problem was Nixon completely unravelled. His paranoia led to really atrocious abuses of power and, with an unstable White House (remember Agnew was chucked out for abuses as well and we wound up with Gerry Ford as VP, then President), the US was really left little choice but to hurriedly abandon Vietnam. It had nothing to do with war defeatism or exhaustion by the American public or journalistic carping. It had to do with, first, the lack of LBJ's political will and failure of leadership, and second, Nixon's lack of integrity and failure of leadership.

Most problematic -- LBJ's and then Carter's inability or unwillingness to back up Containment (which gave rise to detente) stimulated continued Soviet aggression until they spent themselves to death with blood in Afghanistan and and with money trying to keep up with Reagan's buildup. American distrust of Democratic Party security policy and national defense priorities derives fundamentally from this experience with LBJ and Carter. Clinton, not faced with the magnitude of wartime leadership decisions these Democrats faced, did not overcome this mistrust.

By contrast, Reagan and GWBush, both daily abused by the press, have been well treated by the electorate because they have not failed to lead on matters of security and national defense. The American public will support our actions in the Middle East, Guantanamo and wherever til the end as long as well feel properly led-- and no minority weak-kneed whining from the press, Teddy Kennedy, Durbin, Pelosi, Reid or anybody else will change that. It will merely ensure the inability of the Democratic Party to win the Presidency and may condemn them to isolationist minority status in Congress for 20 years. We lost 50,000 lives in Vietnam over 12 years, and the Vietnamese never attacked NY or Washington. American resolve was merely based on a theory of Containment of "godless" Soviet communism. In the current case, we've lost fewer than 2500 lives in Afghanistan and Iraq in the battles against Islamism and Middle Eastern Fascism since we lost 3000 civilians on 9/11. It's been less than 4 years. Some (like the NYT) will say Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11. Bunk again! It has everything to do with 9/11! Something like 80% of Americans think so. That's the market, not some elitist sniffing to the contrary.

Buckle in. If you think we the American people haven't got the stomach Teddy, you are dead wrong. Contrary to certain revisionist opinion (which misguidedly tortures Vietnam vets to this day), we had it in Vietnam, and we have more of it today -- because our military is better, our resources are greater, and our adversaries are relatively weaker. The press and the way left wing will have zero impact on that. Sustained political will and leadership will ensure long term victory.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 28, 12:44:00 PM:

You are delusional. GWBush daily abused by the press? The press should be ripping him a new asshole for his chronic lying (not about having sex with an intern, but about leading us to war).

Where do you pull your facts, out of your ass?

Since no one else could find a link between Iraq and 9/11, other than the one that Bush contrived, you should be congratulated. "Something like 80% of Americans think so." You're not just bad with facts, you're bad with math and you're a joke.

I do myself a great disservice even responding to idiots like you.

[Note to myself: don't waste time with people who not only refuse to acknowledge the truth but who will fabricate information to support otherwise untenable premises.]  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jun 28, 05:57:00 PM:

Goodness, what a brilliant comment.
How can one respond to such exceptional criticism as "you're a joke," "facts from your ass" and "you're an idiot." Why bother to take the time to type? To prove you can spell such challenging words?

I would take the position that had 9/11 not happened, we would not have invaded Iraq. Period. Hence, whether you think Iraq was directly involved or not, the Iraq War and 9/11 are in fact linked. Furthermore, long before GWBush, President Clinton also linked Saddam to al Qaeda. It was one of Clinton's justifications for firing a few cruise missiles at Osama in Afghanistan. I recommend you read Steven Hayes' The Connection for ample sourcing of Clinton's linkage between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Finally, as to the reference to the 80% number, I have to find the poll (which goes back to the election) which cited that statistic. In fact, at one point, CNN trumpeted an even higher number as evidence that Cheney and Bush were misleading the American public on this issue.

We disagree. Big deal. Get over it.  

By Blogger Admin, at Tue Jun 28, 06:07:00 PM:

what if you are wrong?  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jun 28, 07:14:00 PM:

Wrong about what precisely? Staying power? We are in Iraq. You can't go back. We have arrested a disgusting tyrant. Killed his successors. Freed the country. Conducted elections. Now the country has to be secured. We have already won. Draft the constitution. Get on with the building of the country and infrastructure.

We left tens of thousands of troops in Korea (currently 37,000), Germany and countless other stations around the world. Of course we will leave troops in Iraq for a long time. We should. Not 150,000, but 50,000 certainly. Garrisoned out of the way and in the desert. And the country will naturally stabilize with the passage of time. It seems to me unlikely that Islamist non Iraqi Arabs will continue to slip into the country as Iraqi forces develop greater strength. If they want to keep bombing other Arabs, I suppose that's their prerogative. Seems a waste of cannon fodder to me.

While the MSM has carped about US Army recruiting, they've overlooked Iraqi army recruiting, which is actually pretty impressive.

I could be wrong. So what? I am an optimist who believes that whatever challenge we confront, we can overcome. Betting against our country has been a loser for nearly 230 years. No point in doing that now.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 28, 08:35:00 PM:

i noticed you left out vietnam completely.  

By Blogger Admin, at Tue Jun 28, 08:36:00 PM:

"Some (like the NYT) will say Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11. Bunk again! It has everything to do with 9/11!"  

By Blogger Admin, at Tue Jun 28, 08:36:00 PM:

you can't be serious.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Jun 29, 08:15:00 AM:

Uptown Ruler - Dead serious. You may not see it. Ok. fine. But my view is that, all other things being equal, we don't invade Iraq without the occurrence of 9/11. So they're linked. Do you think we would have undertaken to invade Iraq without 9/11 (and no other similar precipitating event)? By the way, I would have supported that anyway (I wanted Bush I to finish the job, and I wanted Clinton to go in 1998). Full disclosure.

Anonymous - I don't understand your point - "I left out Vietnam completely." I extensively posted on my perspective on why we withdrew from Vietnam -- that we did so as a consequence of an absence of leadership from LBJ and Nixon (for different reasons), not due to a lack of will or staying power on the part of the American public. Vietnam (and Korea, and even Persian Gulf War I) point up the limits of Kennan's Containment. War is mean for winning, not stalemate. Stalemates are demoralizing and cost too much in lives.

Again, the fact remains that Nixon won the 1972 election by massive landslide against the antiwar candidate in the face of televised demonstrations and Kent State having expanded the war in Southeast Asia from Vietnam to Laos and Cambodia. To say the American electorate lacked will or staying power is, in my judgment, wrong. It is wrong today too.

To me, what Vietnam and the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago actually demonstrate is that (and the recent election also showed), in the post-1965 world, when the US is at war, the Democratic Party fractures roughly in two. It makes it exceedingly difficult for a conservative Democrat (on foreign policy matters) to emerge from their primaries because you can't speak out of both sides of your mouth on war. The national electorate can't deal with that.  

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