Trying To Force Logic Onto An Illogical World

President Bush's recent speech making comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam has really raised the dander of many of the nation's intellectuals and elitists. Somewhat to my surprise, even Christopher Hitchens has been critical of the comparison, but he's missing the point. In his recent piece he gives us a laundry list as to why the regimes of Ho Chi Minh and Saddam Hussein were different. That's all well and good, but no one is making the claim they were identical, nor are we necessarily debating here the reasoning for going to war in each case. What President Bush is talking about is the consequences that the U.S. and Southeast Asia suffered by us abandoning our mission in Vietnam and how these consequences could prove very similar should we pull out of Iraq.

A transcript of Bush's speech is here, I suggest you read it. The reaction of the elites and Hitchens has to do with their misguided view of communism. Though they refuse to admit it and even offer shallow lip-service with under-their-breath statements that "Stalin was indeed and very bad man," these people will always have a soft-spot for the Marxist ideology because of central (yet false) credo "equality." The reality is that communism is an ideology based on man's self-hatred. Communism seeks to crush every human desire, good and bad, and with that, everyone is "equal." Hitler and the Nazi's weren't quite the same. Theirs was an ideology based on race...they hated everyone but themselves, very similar to the Islamofascists (hence the reason we use the term) of today. Many try to say Vietnam didn't have it so bad after we left. John Kerry, most famously. Max Boot tackled this subject:

After all, isn't Vietnam today an emerging economic power that is cultivating friendly ties with the U.S.?

True, but that's 30 years after the fact. In the short-term, the costs of defeat were indeed heavy. More than a million people perished in the killing fields of Cambodia, while in Vietnam, those who worked with American forces were consigned, as Mr. Bush noted, to prison camps "where tens of thousands perished." Many more fled as "boat people," he continued, "many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea."

That assessment actually understates the terrible repercussions from the American defeat, whose ripples spread around the world. In the late 1970s, America's enemies seized power in countries from Mozambique to Iran to Nicaragua. American hostages were seized aboard the SS Mayaguez (off Cambodia) and in Tehran. The Red Army invaded Afghanistan. It is impossible to prove the connection with the Vietnam War, but there is little doubt that the enfeeblement of a superpower encouraged our enemies to undertake acts of aggression that they might otherwise have shied away from. Indeed, as Mr. Bush noted, jihadists still gain hope from what Ayman al Zawahiri accurately describes as "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."

Bush was not giving a history lecture at NYU, he was trying to explain some real world realities in a short amount of time. Like they say in football, you can have all the great stats you want but the only stat that matters is how many W's you have. In this world, the only stat that matters is America's win-loss record, because when America loses, freedom loses. You don't have to like it, but you do have to face it.