Max Boot to Kissinger — “Iraq isn’t Vietnam, Henry”

Posted By: 'Okie' | 10:47 am — 7/22/2007 | 4 Comments See comments below:

I just love a good Max Boot column, especially when it gets printed in the LA Times, ’cause I know that it’ll lead to a lot of head-banging, teeth-gnashing caterwauling by plenty of uber-Lefties in the Letters to the Editor tomorrow. Today’s essay in the LAT Opinion section is a beaut, with Boot once again tellin’ it like it is — that Iraq is NOT the new Vietnam. Of course, since Boot is a conservative, he backs up his assertion with plenty of facts and rationale, not just some fuzzy inclination or really-really-deep-seated feelings about the issue.

As congress debates the war in Iraq, it’s becoming clear that many lawmakers want to bring the troops home while avoiding the likely consequences — a ruinous civil war and a calamitous victory for Iran and Al Qaeda. This has led to much pining for some kind of negotiated solution — what the Iraq Study Group called a “new diplomatic offensive” — that might allow us a graceful exit.

Enter Henry Kissinger, the octogenarian “wise man” who is an advisor to President Bush. {…}
How seriously should we take him? Is it really possible that a super-skilled secretary of State — someone like, umm, Henry Kissinger — could deliver “peace with honor” today? It didn’t work the last time around. Why should it work now?

How many times lately have we been bombarded with the Congressional Dems shrieking that we are caught up in this generation’s Viet Nam? How many Lefties have you talked with that truly believe that we will have honored and supported our troops only after we have forced them into a mass-retreat, a pitiful and dishonorable defeat? The disconnect is staggering, at least to this ol’ Okie. Back to Boot, who has just a wee bit of nits to pick with Kissinger’s selective memories of how he and President Nixon actually got us out of the ‘Nam.

Although it is true that Kissinger used the “opening to China” to pressure North Vietnam, he also gave private assurances to Chinese Premier Chou En-lai in June 1972 that all he really wanted was a “reasonable interval between the military outcome and the political outcome.” What kind of political outcome did he have in mind? According to Hanhimaki, Kissinger told Chou: “While we cannot bring a communist government to power, if, as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, we ought to be able to accept it.”

In other words, Kissinger informed Chou that the communists could have Saigon as long as they didn’t humiliate the Americans on the way out.

That was diplomatic of ’em, huh?

He made that dismal outcome even more likely by agreeing to one of North Vietnam’s key demands, which he now fails to mention. Even as the U.S. withdrew all its troops, the Paris peace accords left at least 150,000 North Vietnamese soldiers occupying 25% of South Vietnam. This gave the North an invaluable beachhead from which to complete its campaign of conquest. No wonder the president of South Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, had to be bullied by Kissinger and Nixon into signing off on a document that, he knew, meant “we will commit suicide.”

It’s tough enough to be friends with the U.S. when the GOP controls Congress, but it’s downright self-brutalizing to be our buddy when the Dems control the collective purse, that is if military action is involved. The donkeys just love to pay attention to their base of ultra-whiny Libs, er ah, Progressives, that has an irrational sense of entitlement which leads them to believe that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” just comes to them from out of thin air — that the blood of patriots never again has to be spilt, that evil can be defeated with mere words, that, “Hey! It’s not our war, man — we’ve got really-really-super-important stuff to do . . .”

Kissinger can plausibly argue that the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia was inevitable, given the turn of public opinion against the war. But he cannot at the same time claim, as he does in his memoirs, that his diplomacy was a “dazzling success.” His machinations, however brilliant, made little difference in the end. All they did was provide the Nixon administration a “reasonable interval” and Kissinger a Nobel Peace Prize. If anything, the peace accords accelerated the fall of South Vietnam by giving Congress the illusion that the war was over and that it was safe to cut off aid.

This current Congress isn’t even going to argue that it will be safe to cut off funds for the Iraq War, won’t hint that there is even an illusion that this conflict is over. They’re going in eyes-wide-open, acknowledging that their actions might indeed cause mass-destruction, unimaginable cruelty and genocide — but hey they claim, under Saddam it was just as bad so who cares, really? Another of their, “Hey, my bad?” moments.

There is a lesson here for the present day: Skilled diplomacy can consolidate the results of military success but can seldom make up for its lack. In Iraq, there is scant chance that any American legerdemain can convince internal factions like the Jaish al Mahdi or Al Qaeda in Iraq, or outside actors such as Iran and Syria, that their interests are congruent with ours. While the U.S. pursues stability and democracy, our enemies are merrily capitalizing on mayhem to carve out spheres of influence and bleed us dry.

The only thing that could conceivably alter their calculations is a change in the balance of power on the ground. That is what Army Gen. David Petraeus is trying to achieve. But he is being undermined by incessant withdrawal demands from home, which are convincing our enemies that they can wait us out. Only if the other side faces the probability of defeat — or at least stalemate — can negotiations produce a durable accord.

You gotta admit, you’ve not heard any support from the Democrat leadership for letting the Petraeus Surge Plan have even a little time to show that it can work. It’s more like they are afraid that it actually will work, and then they’d be up that famous sticky-brown creek with no paddles in sight. Boot closes with a warning:

If we repeat the same mistake in Iraq (which Kissinger, in fairness, now counsels against), no amount of diplomatic wizardry will avert a costly defeat.

We still have a very slim veto-proof cadre of Congressional GOPers that can stop the Dem-wits from turning what is a very hard, very costly, very painful — but very necessary — situation into something a whole lot worse. Let’s support ’em folks, ’cause too many of them have feet that seem to be starting to crumble.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 22nd, 2007 at 10:47 am and is filed under A Post 9/11 World, Iraq War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.  |  Print This Post Print This Post  |  Email This Post Email This Post

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