The Pelosi Democrats in Congress and the leading Democratic presidential contenders all stress that things aren’t going well in Iraq. Yet they all seem quite pleased about this. The real question is whether the Pelosi Democrats and their left-wing allies want America to lose the Iraq war, just as a generation ago liberal Democrats pressed for a humiliating American retreat in Vietnam.
With the Iraq war now in its fourth year, comparisons to Vietnam become inevitable. There was Jane Fonda on the mall at the peace rally recently, invoking the spirit of 1968. Others have been making the Vietnam analogy for some time. Typical is columnist Robert Freeman, who frets that Iraq has become a “quagmire” and is leading to “an outcome perhaps even more calamitous than in Vietnam.” Several senior Democrats have taken up the theme, with Senator Ted Kennedy calling Iraq “George Bush’s Vietnam.”
Actually Iraq is not like Vietnam. America has vital interests in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam. If the Islamic radicals seize Iraq, then they would have control of a second major state, since they already run Iran. Moreover, in Vietnam there were a million men fighting on the other side. In Iraq America faces an insurgency drawing from the Sunni faction that makes up only 20 percent of the population. Despite the ferocity of the enemy and the outbursts of civil strife, America can win in Iraq. And America must win, because the stakes of losing are too high.
But there is a whole political group here in America that is working overtime for America to get out of Iraq in the same ignominious way it retreated from Vietnam. And if America loses in Iraq, I suspect it will be less because of military defeat imposed by the insurgency, and more because of political defeat imposed by the left in this country. The political left, with its powerful allies in the media, and now with its hands on the levers of Congressional power, seems to be waging an undeclared war against Bush’s war on terror. For this group, “another Vietnam” is not a prospect to be feared, but welcomed.
Why? We commonly hear that America lost the Vietnam War, and this is true, but it is not true of the political left. The left won the Vietnam War. It won in the sense that it wanted America to withdraw and accept humiliation, and America withdrew and accepted humiliation. The result was very bad for the Indochinese, who suffered a Communist bloodbath in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal. At the same time, the result was extremely beneficial for the political left.