Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Banging the Vietnam Drum

As everyone on the political side of the blogosphere knows, the Left and Right view the current war through different lenses, and each of those lenses represents a 20th-century war. For the Left, Iraq is Vietnam; for the Right, it is WWII, specifically, 1938.

The Left sees Iraq as Vietnam because they see Vietnam as the emblem of the futility of war, of its brutality and meaninglessness, of the US getting involved in a situation it had no business being involved in, of the power of the people to reverse a government's bad decision and bring the boys home before more of them get killed.

The Right sees Iraq as WWII because they see WWII, especially the years leading up to it, as the time when people should have taken Hitler seriously, as the time when a small war in the Rhineland would have prevented atrocities untold, as a time when it was evident to all but the intellectuals and politicians that the Nazis posed a mortal threat to Western Civilization.

We on the Right have been impatient and contemptuous with the Left's trotting out of Vietnam again, because frankly it's tiresome: after all those movies and TV shows (M*A*S*H, especially) that beat the Futility Of War drum so incessantly, we can safely say that we get it--War Is Hell. As in, duh. Like we need 13 years of Hawkeye Pierce's pacificst tantrums to figure that out. (BTW: I have always been and still am a huge M*A*S*H fan; it's probably the best TV series ever, but I have come to resent the distorted view of the military and war that it provided.)

But now that the Democrats have taken Congress, the Left's use of the Vietnam paradigm threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They very well could cut the funding to the troops, who are currently in a support position relative to the Iraqi police and military. If we go, all their logistical support dries up, and without that support, the Iraqi army will fall. And with it, the democratically elected government.

The word the folks on the Right are using now is "chaos" to describe what will happen afterwards. Well, yes, chaos is not entirely inaccurate. But you can use that same term to describe what happens at 7am when Wal-Mart opens its doors the day after Thanksgiving. Chaos doesn't sound all that bad, because chaos has a tendency to resolve itself into some kind of order eventually.

The trouble is, when an unstable country goes chaotic, the only way the chaos will resolve itself is when the strong subjugate the weak and create a totalitarian or near-totalitarian state. Populations have a hard time being chaotic when they've got a boot on their neck.

What will that resolution look like in Iraq? Well, there are a few possibilities: the Shia and Kurds maintain control, and they go after the Sunnis with gusto. Or the Sunnis manage to wrest power from the government and they go after the Shia and Kurds. Or Al Qaeda by sheer force of arms establishes itself as the de facto power, and they go after anyone who cooperated with the US or was engaged in the democratic process.

I used the term "go after" in the above paragraph, but what I really meant was "engage in wholesale slaughter." If you think they're killing Iraqis by the bushel now, you ain't seen what will happen if we leave before they're ready for us to go.

We on the Right also have criticized the Left (and rightly so) for their bumper-sticker mentality, for their empty and misleading slogans, for the relentless memes and assertions that have nothing behind them but hysteria and distortion. However much I might dislike sloganism, I also have to admit that it is highly effective. Sound bites are what it's about in our culture, and peer pressure is easily exerted thereby. If everybody's saying it, it must be right, right?

I mean, what's more effective?

"BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED"

or

"BUSH MAY HAVE EQUIVOCATED ABOUT WMDs, BUT THE WAR IS STILL JUSTIFIED AS A MEANS OF ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF TERRORISM, AND BESIDES, THEY ARE MYSOGINISTS, FASCISTS, PRIMITIVE, AND SUPREMACISTS, SO THEY CAN'T BE ALLOWED TO TOPPLE WESTERN CIVILIZATION, WHICH STANDS FOR FREEDOM AND PROGRESS"

You get the point. I would very much like to see the Right embrace the cause of not only refuting the Vietnam paradigm, but of actively fighting withdrawal, because it would certainly result in widespread death and destruction in Iraq. There are other consequences, to be sure, such as the continuation of jihad in the rest of the ME and Europe and possibly even on our shores. But the Left cannot imagine that the jihadis might do us serious harm beyond a few blown-up malls or airplanes. So we won't challenge their lack of imagination at this point.

We should frame the current conflict in terms of Vietnam, but not in the same way as the Left does. They emphasize the bloodiness of the war; we need to emphasize the much greater bloodiness of the aftermath.

Because as I grew up, I never heard any of those self-righteous boomer protesters discuss what happened in Southeast Asia after we went home. I never knew until recently that millions upon millions died after our withdrawal, far more than died during the actual conflict. For that alone (though there are many other reasons), I cannot ever, ever trust the Lefty boomers to provide me with any degree of perspective when it comes to war. Ever.

But I can co-opt their methods. Mindless repetition of bumper-sticker slogans works, folks. Let's get to it. How about these, for starters?

WIN THE BATTLE; WIN THE WAR

WE WITHDRAW; THEY RECRUIT

FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS WITHDRAW FROM IRAQ

WITHDRAWAL IS GENOCIDE

Any more?

UPDATE:

Here's one inspired by a comment at LGF

WITHDRAWAL: GREAT BIRTH CONTROL, BAD FOREIGN POLICY

10 comments:

Mango said...

How about

RICH MAN'S WAR / POOR MAN'S FIGHT

or

DRAFT THE BUSH TWINS

?

PS: I responded to your comment on yesterday's Dr. Sanity post

dicentra63 said...

RICH MAN'S WAR / POOR MAN'S FIGHT

Ex-squeek me? The demographics of the military closely parallel those of the general population.

Try something that is based in actual fact, eh?

R.A.H. said...

how about: Withdrawl- It Worked for the French in WWII.

Railroad Stone said...

1. The Aftermyth
Yeah, if the US had stayed in Vietnam, they could have ... un-dropped a lot of bombs, and ... somehow ... found all those missing land mines before ... um, ... vacuuming up about 12 million gallons of agent orange including 375 pounds of dioxin.

The communists definitely killed a lot of Vietnamese, but the US will still be killing civilians and causing birth defects for a long time yet.

If Nixon had 'de-escalated' when he promised to, Pol Pot would be a name you don't recognize. The Khmer Rouge was an unintended side effect of staying when you should have gone.


2. Please stop blaming the effect for the cause.

Taking a knife out of a victim looks and hurts worse than putting it in, but you can't blame the nurse for the pain, especially not when you're the one who did the stabbing.

If there's a clever way out of Iraq, it WON'T be found by the genius minds which wanted the invasion in the first place.

dicentra63 said...

Taking a knife out of a victim looks and hurts worse than putting it in, but you can't blame the nurse for the pain, especially not when you're the one who did the stabbing.

Taking a knife out of a victim can do more harm than good if the victim bleeds out in the aftermath. The victim needs to be in a good hospital with surgeons present and waiting to staunch the blood flow.

Look, you guys can sit there and say "you shouldn't have done that!" until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't help anything. At all.

If there's a clever way out of Iraq, it WON'T be found by the genius minds which wanted the invasion in the first place.

And we're supposed to trust the genius minds who think that the US is a bigger threat to world peace than the jihadis? The ones who think we can talk our way out of this? The ones who think that if only we were more sensitive to their grievances, they'd pack up and go home? The ones who think that war is never the answer?

Sorry, I'll trust a pack of warriors over a pack of pacifists any day of the week.

Railroad Stone said...

"Taking a knife out of a victim can do more harm than good if the victim bleeds out in the aftermath."

Yes, that's my point. Withdrawal from Iraq will probably be ugly and painful.

"The victim needs to be in a good hospital with surgeons present and waiting to staunch the blood flow."

Okay, so I should have said "you can't blame the surgeons present at the good hospital for the pain". It's still the same argument about blame, which you clearly do see:

Look, you guys can sit there and say "you shouldn't have done that!" until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't help anything. At all.

That's not true. Others can learn from your mistakes, even if you won't accept them.

S. Weasel said...

We're withdrawing from Iraq? How come? We haven't withdrawn from Bosnia yet. Or Kosovo. Or Afghanistan. Or Korea. Or Japan. Or Germany. As far as I know, we only withdraw when our hosts ask us to.

If the main point wasn't getting permanent bases in the Middle East, where they're needed most, I'll be awfully disappointed.

Railroad Stone said...

Dicentra, your demographics only include the US military, but they aren't fighting themselves.

r.a.h., The French were invaded and defeated, while you're occupying a country which hadn't even threatened you.

"As far as I know, we only withdraw when our hosts ask us to."

s.weasel, what is this post called?

dicentra63 said...

Dicentra, your demographics only include the US military, but they aren't fighting themselves.

Oh, I get it. The evil, rich, oppresive US, who got its wealth by brazenly stealing it from others, is fighting its poor, desperate vicitms. Where is the justice in that?

Dude, Iraqis and other middle-easterners are poor because they live under oppressive regimes who hog all the oil revenue to themselves. Their societies aren't structured to allow people to prosper. Our wealth, like all wealth, is generated by labor in a context wherein people have control of the fruits of that labor.

The arabs and their neighbors live in prime-divider societies, wherein a select few enjoy wealth and the rest languish in poverty.

To intimate that the US acquired its wealth solely at the expense of other societies is Marxist claptrap. Where the US has defeated its enemies and been allowed to rebuild (Germany, Japan, S. Korea), we've left prosperity in our wake. It's in our best interest that other countries be wealthy as well.

Railroad Stone said...

You're imagining my half of the debate, dude. I didn't say you were taking wealth from your poor enemies. Partly because that doesn't make any sense, but mostly because the war has cost taxpayers trillions so far.

I was only intimating that you fight an enemy which is poor, and you obviously agree.

The only way an American could possibly profit from Iraq is if the US government could somehow give them a pile of US taxpayers' money!

Wait, when did you defeat South Korea?