Thursday, February 03, 2005

Hitchens on Iraq/Vietnam

Normally I find Christopher Hitchens to be an enjoyable and insightful essayist who finds an interesting perspective that is neither patently right nor left. In his latest piece, “Beating a Dead Parrot,” Hitchens typically finds that centrist position yet fails the test on interesting and insightful. Making the case that Iraq is for Bush what Vietnam was for Johnson is a difficult or impossible task. While certain Washington Democrats have been ebulliently repeating this claim any time a television news crew is within earshot, hoping against hope that it will stick to the walls of American kitchens from coast to coast.

In rebuttal to the analogy that Democrats want to draw, Hitchens fails to illustrate the real and powerful contrasts between the two favoring only a litany of unimportant point counter-point examples about how Vietnam was not under a decade of UN Sanctions and that Iraqi insurgents are not being re-supplied by organized governmental entities. Both of these are unquestionably true. However, neither bears significantly on the validity of an equation of Iraq with Vietnam. It is much more illustrative to point out the measurable differences between the accomplishing goals in each action. In Vietnam, The US never really got past “GO.” Significant territorial gains for the South Vietnamese were never made, substantial destabilization of Ho Chi Minh never got off the ground, and from nearly the beginning US military forces were fighting against the current to maintain their positions. All that and more has been accomplished in Iraq. This past weekend’s elections are particularly important in demonstrating just how different Iraq and Vietnam are.

Perhaps the most impressively lacking portion of the article is Hitchens’ failure to address the blatantly partisan claim of an Iraqi quagmire. It is not hard to recall that the red badge of failure, quagmire, was originally foist upon this Iraqi War early on as US troops paused to allow supplies to catch up with the incredible progress ground forces were making as the assault on Baghdad progressed forward. Shortly thereafter US troops moved on Baghdad, deposed Hussein’s government and began to set the stage for a new government, an impressive reversal of fortunes to say the least. As Iraq approached an historic election, US Democrats once again tried to apply the label quagmire to a situation ready to show significant progress. Intent on inspiring fear of an unending commitment to what they paint as the killing fields of the Sunni triangle, Democrats directly and indirectly attempt to weave the tale of Iraq, Vietnam, and the joining of a quagmire. In the wake of elections with greater turnout than US elections, ink stained fingers point the way to freedom and democracy. That’s a far cry from a quagmire.


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