As Keane reminded his NPR audience, the United States is quite capable of fighting insurgencies when we decide that is our mission. As he pointed out, we were successful in Vietnam at stopping the Vietcong's terrorism against the South Vietnamese. We failed in Vietnam because we lost political will and we refused to fight the North Vietnamese Army on its own turf, choosing to remain on defense to the very end, despite bombing raids on the North. Despite the apologists who act as if U.S. withdrawal from Saigon "liberated" the Vietnamese people, the millions who fled or died in Southeast Asia in the aftermath of the communist takeover in Vietnam and Cambodia were witness to the horror that followed our retreat.
The big difference between Vietnam and Iraq is that our enemy will hunt us down if we leave Iraq, whereas the communist victors in Southeast Asia were content to enslave just their own people.
The president will be considering his options over the holidays, an unenviable task. He could do a lot worse than to call in Keane for a frank one-on-one discussion. At least the president would get a strategy that would actually leave Iraq a better place than we found it.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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