Failure of the Will
Gary Cruse’s latest Best of Me Symphony is up. In this week’s entry, Wince and Nod has a piece on the war in Vietnam. He reviews McNamara’s view of the war in contrast to Dr. Jerry Pournell’s, and finds Pournell’s the more convincing argument. The war in Viet Nam was not, Pournell argues, a war against the North Vietnamese, it was a war against the Soviet Union – a war we were winning:
Well, I don’t disagree except that we did not lose the war in Viet Nam. We accomplished what we needed, which was a long campaign of materiel attrition as part of the Seventy Years War. In 1973 we demonstrated that at small cost we could hold South Viet Nam forever, and bleed the North and their Russian allies white as we did.
The Democrats threw away a victory. We weren’t defeated, we simply came home when the Democrats decided that having won it wasn’t worth defending the Gooks with American blood and treasure. If that sounds harsh, I am sorry, but it’s what happened. We had won. The border was stabilized in the sense that it took a large army to cross it and ARVN with U.S. supplies and air support could destroy any such large army. Every time and to the last man.
Yet that “small cost” was more than enough to let the media tell us that “we couldn’t win” over and over until we believed it.
I grant you the North had the will. Americans had the will, too, and would have kept it if our leaders had not failed us. First Johnson, McNamara and the defense department failed by running the war poorly from 65 to 68. Then Nixon failed by blowing up his own Presidency and his own party. Then the Democrats failed in 1975, when all they had to do was provide supplies and air power. At that point we had successfully Vietnamized the war, but they required American style material, air power and logistical support, which we abruptly and cravenly cut off. I cannot forgive the Congressional Democrats for dishonoring our commitment in this fashion. From whence do you think our reputation for having no staying power came?
Wince leaves out the power of the 5th Column of the media. Howard Fineman’s January 12 MSNBC piece on “The Death of the American Mainstream Media Party” illustrated that power:
Still, the notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press was, to me at least, worth holding onto. Now it’s pretty much dead, at least as the public sees things. The seeds of its demise were sown with the best of intentions in the late 1960s, when the AMMP was founded in good measure (and ironically enough) by CBS. Old folks may remember the moment: Walter Cronkite stepped from behind the podium of presumed objectivity to become an outright foe of the war in Vietnam. Later, he and CBS’s star White House reporter, Dan Rather, went to painstaking lengths to make Watergate understandable to viewers, which helped seal Richard Nixon’s fate as the first president to resign.
The piece I referred to yesterday where Knight-Ridder Newspapers has declared the war in Iraq “unwinnable” is another.
Vietnam and Iraq do share many parallels. The most striking one is that what we are fighting isn’t the “insurgents” in Iraq, just as what we were fighting in Vietnam wasn’t the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. In Vietnam we were fighting the Soviet Union. The VC and North Vietnamese army were their proxies. We were fighting the ideology of communism by, as Dr. Pournell points out, bleeding it white economically. In Iraq we are fighting another ideology, but this time it is not one we can defeat economically. It’s one we can only defeat by establishing the conditions necessary for individual freedom in the Middle East. I’m not Steven Den Beste, and I’m not Victor Davis Hanson, and I’m not Bill Whittle, but even if I cannot express it as logically, clearly, or eloquently as they, I understand that what we are fighting is militant Islam – a force in the world that is virulent, powerful, and dedicated to the destruction of freedom and democracy throughout the world. This is a religious war, because one side of it isn’t a country, but a religion.
Another parallel is that the government’s announced reasons for fighting in Vietnam weren’t the core reasons we fought. We did it to fight Communist expansion, but the goal was the actual destruction of the Soviet Union. As Dr. Pournell pointed out, that took seventy years. Certainly we invaded Iraq to unseat Saddam Hussein and remove him as a threat, but the more important reason was, as Steven Den Beste diagrams in his “strategic overview” of the Global War on Terror:
The large solution is to reform the Arab/Muslim world. This is the path we have chosen.
Any bets on how many decades that will take? Any argument on just how important that goal is?
As I said yesterday, the only way we will lose this war is if we lose our will. The media is doing everything in its power to sap our will, and I’m goddamned tired of it. The media lost the war in Vietnam, and it’s trying to repeat the achievement. But this time an American pullout means a lot more that the deaths of a few million brown people and the loss of American pride. We pulled out of Vietnam after we had accomplished what needed to be accomplished, and then we abandoned the South Vietnamese in an unconscionable act of cowardice. THEY paid the price of that cowardice. If the media “wins” again, WE will pay, and so will the rest of the world.