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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Beldar on Goldberg and Beinart on whether Democrats have paid a political price for opposing the Vietnam War

NR/NRO's Jonah Goldberg takes issue with an op-ed in TIME in which TNR editor Peter Beinart argues that the new Democratic majority in Congress ought to "go for it" — meaning, here, Democratic party leaders continuing to act very aggressively, beyond what the Democratic Party's own center or center-right will support — in trying to end the Iraq War in very short order. As part of that argument, Mr. Beinart makes this assertion about the relevance of the political history and precedent from the controversy over the Vietnam War:

... Just before the Senate narrowly voted down a Democratic resolution calling for withdrawal in 2008, a G.O.P. staff member crowed that "the public won't go for it." Haven't the Democrats learned anything from Vietnam?

Actually, they have. Despite today's conventional wisdom, Democrats didn't suffer in the 1970s for opposing Vietnam. And they're even less likely to pay a political price for trying to end the war in Iraq.

Mr. Goldberg argues that by "going for it" in the manner suggested by Mr. Beinart, however, the Democratic leaders would do their party more damage than good:

[E]ven if you agree to his argument that Vietnam didn't hurt the Democrats in the 1970s (I think there's a debate to be had and — hey! — we just may have it)[, it] certainly hurt the Democrats in the 1980s. Reagan's popularity stemmed in large part from his ability to defeat the Vietnam syndrome. Clinton would never have been elected in 1992 with his Vietnam record if the Cold War hadn't been over, and even then it was a tough haul. The war on terror won't be over any time soon, so they can't rely on a political peace dividend the way Clinton did in 1992. And the Democrats seem to be working overtime to make their foreign policy stance as indecipherable as possible. Peter sees nuance. It's not clear to me average Americans will.

I'm not sure what I think about the ultimate issue they're debating, but on the specific issue of whether the Vietnam experience was, overall, something that hurt the Democrats, I find myself in disgusted agreement with Mr. Beinart — and in fact, I'd go farther than he does, and argue that the Democratic Party never paid a serious political price over Vietnam at any time.

Right now, though, I don't care much about whether either party pays a political price. Instead, I'm worried about the consequences for our nation, and the world, if in the current debate about Iraq, Americans fail to consider properly what happened as a result of the American abandonment of South Vietnam in 1973-1975. I'm worried about the price we'll all end up paying if we cannot overcome our national amnesia on that subject.


To many, including probably to most of us who came into our (at least chronological) adulthood in the 1970s, there are good and handy reasons to remember that decade as if it embodied a consistent set of themes and events — the way most Americans now think of the 1950s, for example, as the "Eisenhower/'Happy Days' era." But the 1970s weren't at all homogeneous, and I think both Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Beinart err in so assuming. The 1970s actually break up into discrete and dissimilar chunks.

By January 1, 1970, there were indeed still very, very committed and defiantly radical anti-war Democrats raising hell over Vietnam. But Richard Nixon had just finished beating a Democratic centrist on war issues, Hubert Humphrey. And more to the point, Nixon was about to absolutely thrash the Democratic Party's next presidential nominee, George McGovern, whose candidacy is now remembered only for two things: He was the standard bearer for the radically anti-war hard-left in the Democratic Party, and he brought the Democratic Party to an electoral nadir exactly eight years after Lyndon Johnson had done the same thing to the Barry Goldwater-led Republicans. Throughout the first 3-1/2 years of the 1970s, the hard-core anti-war Democrats had almost completely lost traction on Vietnam — or rather, they'd been effectively outmaneuvered by Nixon's combination of successes in Vietnam (albeit controversial ones) that had permitted him to withdraw most American ground forces and his overall foreign policy success in skillfully exploiting the growing China/USSR rifts.

Mr. Beinart describes the subsequent turn-around in power, and then the effective ascendancy of the hard-core anti-war Democrats, thusly:

In 1973 the Senate voted to suspend funding for American military operations in Vietnam; the next year, Congress voted to cut off aid to the embattled government in Saigon. Some of today's commentators argue that those votes devastated the Democratic Party in the mid-1970s. But if so, the Democrats had a strange way of showing it. They won the 1974 midterm elections in a landslide. Two years later, Jimmy Carter grabbed the White House. To be sure, Watergate played a major role in those victories. But if the party's efforts to end the war weren't the primary reason for its success, they certainly didn't hurt.

Those are (mostly) the right dates. Mr. Beinart ought also have certainly included the Congressional vote in early 1975 that rejected Pres. Ford's frantic plea for financing and air support to prop up our South Vietnamese allies who, prior to 1974, had been holding their own against the North, but by early 1975 were being completely overrun in conventional military battles that American air power could have turned around without any re-commitment of American ground forces.

But Mr. Beinart just misremembers the sequence of events that led up to those Congressional votes on Vietnam in 1973-1975. The hard-core anti-war Democrats' efforts to "end the war" were not only not "the primary reason for [the party's] success," they were a politically negligible reason. Watergate and Nixon's resulting disgrace and resignation directly and damn-nearly exclusively caused not only the 1974 midterms that put the Democratic Party, still controlled by its hard-core anti-war faction, into a dominant ascendancy in Congress, but also hobbled the Republicans with an unelected incumbent whose incumbency permitted him to fend off a vastly more appealing candidate, Ronald Reagan, in 1976.


Thus, Mr. Beinart has gotten his cause and effect confused. The actual cause of the power-shift, Watergate, had two effects relevant to this argument: It both facilitated the Congressional votes in which the hard-core anti-war Democrats finally got their way, and it also misdirected American attention from those anti-war (actually, anti-South Vietnamese ally) Congressional votes. As a result of Watergate, neither the anti-war Democrats, nor the Democratic Party as a whole, ever paid a serious political price at the polls for those votes.

And that's where Mr. Goldberg also begins to get it wrong, or at least to go off in another direction. Yes, Reagan's election in 1980 marked another tectonic shift in American politics. Yes, his eager embrace of an American return to vigorous prosecution of the Cold War and his promise to turn around the shocking decline of the American military both generated substantial political support for him; some portion of the famous "Reagan Democrats" crossed over for those reasons. But my own strong recollection is that many, and probably most, of the Reagan Democrats were motivated by disgust with 20% interest rates, stagflation, gas lines, and American impotence in the Iranian hostage affair. Essentially none of those Reagan Democrats were motivated by guilt over, or disagreement with, the 1973-1975 Congressional votes on the Vietnam War as such.

In other words, in 1980 the Democratic Party and its incumbent president certainly did pay a price — both for domestic incompetency and malaise and for flabby military and foreign policy. But except for a few of us who were already part of Reagan's base anyway, pre-April 1975 Congressional votes over the Vietnam War just weren't on anyone's radar screen anymore.


Maybe when Mr. Beinart was discussing the Democrat Party's opposition in the 1970s to "the Vietnam War," he was indeed really intending to address something broader than those Congressional votes. Whether that was Mr. Beinart's intent or not, Mr. Goldberg certainly presumes that it was the Democratic Party's anti-war policies in the first half of the 1970s which created a broader change in American public opinion and self-assessment, the "Vietnam War Syndrome," that became a reflexive form of American self-paralysis. Mr. Goldberg then argues that the cure for that syndrome somehow exacted a political price eventually paid by Democrats in 1980 and after. (I'm a bit confused by his reference to Clinton's Vietnam draft dodging, but I interpret that to mean that the Democratic Party would have paid an even higher price for its anti-war past as late as 1992, but for the intervening end of the Cold War.)

But the history of American involvement with Vietnam, from the 1950s through 1975, is an incredibly relevant topic that should indeed affect current discussions over Iraq in many, many ways — including the military, foreign policy, and domestic political spheres. The anti-war votes in 1973 through 1975 that did indeed "end the war" are more directly relevant for those discussions about Iraq, I submit, than broader and fuzzier history on the "Vietnam War Syndrome," its cure by Reagan, the resulting end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War, and so forth.

What Mr. Goldberg says after re-defining Mr. Beinart's premise, in other words, may be true. It's just not what's important now, though.

Instead, for purposes of the current debate over Iraq, what's important about the history of American involvement in Vietnam, and especially the American abandonment of South Vietnam, is the blank spot in the American consciousness that continues to leave most Americans (most of whom now have come of age after 1975) serenely ignorant of what I believe to have been the single most shameful event in 20th Century American history. Millions of people died in Southeast Asia as the direct result of those votes by the anti-war Congress in 1973-1975. Almost none of the dead were Americans, though, and the American public was still distracted by Watergate and thoroughly exhausted by bitter arguments over Vietnam that by then dated back more than a decade. And as a result, for most Americans, those horrifying and eminently preventable events simply didn't happen.


That's what I mean when I say that the Democratic Party never paid a price for its opposition to the Vietnam war.

When we're talking now about cutting and running from Iraq, with a risk of regional and world consequences that may well dwarf the bloodbaths in Southeast Asia after March 1975, we must, as a nation, manage to see and to appreciate — and to remember with appropriate horror and regret and, yes, shame — the blood of those millions that will forever stain American history.

Note well: I am not arguing that the piles of corpses in Cambodia's killing fields and the drowned Vietnamese boat people were intended by the Democratic Party as an institution. It wasn't the Democrats from the "Watergate Class of '74" who herded families into reeducation camps and tiger cages. Our guilt and shame ought be as enablers of madmen; our guilt and shame ought to be for failing to prevent that which we could and should, as a nation, have foreseen that the madmen would do. And in discussing the current alternatives regarding Iraq, for example, I do not think that it's particularly productive, nor even very precise, to talk about the Democratic Party's collective historical responsibility, as an institution, for the consequences of those 1973-1975 Congressional votes.

But without slapping party labels around, it is altogether appropriate — it is essential, it is a moral imperative at the risk of our collective and individual souls — that Americans finally grasp and then come to grips with what happened in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in the last half of the 1970s as a direct result of the anti-war, cut-and-run, and cut-off-the-funds politicians of either party who forced this country to abandon our allies there. The lessons here need to be learned by our nation, not just by one or the other of its political parties. In that regard, I'll appropriate Sen. McCain's comment: It's not political parties who win or lose wars; it's entire nations who win or lose wars, and it's nations who bear the consequences.

Since the Vietnam War, our military forces have learned how to conduct themselves in a way that minimizes collateral casualties among innocent civilians. Most Americans now are justly proud of our military for that (and many other things, too). But many millions of innocent civilians are once again at risk of becoming collateral casualties — not of American bombs or tanks, but of gutless and short-sighted American politicians, unless they too can manage to learn the lessons of the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

What mostly suppresses my optimism now is not doubt about whether the Iraq War is winnable, nor my concerns for whether a free Iraq can grow to independent viability. What suppresses my optimism has little to do with the Green Zone in Baghdad, but everything to do with the Capital Dome in Washington. What suppresses my optimism is my fear that anti-war American politicians will doom us to repeat a past that most Americans don't even remember ever having happened.

Posted by Beldar at 11:14 AM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar on Goldberg and Beinart on whether Democrats have paid a political price for opposing the Vietnam War and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Lessons of Vietnam not learned from blogs for industry

Tracked on Mar 26, 2007 9:27:18 AM

» More Beinart vs. Goldberg on Vietnam from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Mar 27, 2007 8:10:41 PM


(1) (A different)dyer made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 11:59:46 AM | Permalink


This is a timely and well made statement. I have to agree with your fear.

I think that the memory hole is willful. A certain subset of Boomers believe the early 70's to be their finest hour. The Press has lionized themselves, as well. The memory hole is the natural result, since foundational myths and legends cannot easily be examined. The results are, unfortunately, all too predictable.

Since despair is unacceptable, I can only hope that the world allows our Republic the time it needs to absorb the lessons of that era in total. Unfortunately, it's rare for the generations necessary to pass with nothing major intruding.

(2) LazyMF made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 2:05:22 PM | Permalink

Are you arguing that the South Vietnamese could have held off the NVA had the US continued to fund the South Vietnamese after the US troops left? In that case would your definition of victory in Vietnam be similar to the result in Korea?

Also, what Nixonian victories are you talking about? I understand the US defeated the NVA in just about every convential battlefield situation, but are you arguing Nixon was achieving victory in the war? Also, in what way did the Kissinger/Nixon attempts to create a rift between China and the USSR influence the Vietnam war?

(3) DRJ made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 5:09:40 PM | Permalink

"For most Americans, those horrifying and eminently preventable events simply didn't happen."

You've summarized what I remember but could never state as brilliantly as you did. However, I submit that over-50 American liberals know it happened but just don't care.

(4) Carol Herman made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 6:42:16 PM | Permalink

I have a bigger worry. Bush is way too close to the House of Saud. And, he's acting like he's their realtor.

Is he successful? No.

But that doesn't stop James Baker from pressing. While in Israel, things are particularly goofy.

Olmert? Well, he's NOT popular! So, it's hardly likely he's in any position to give anything away!

And, Iraq? The Kurds are okay. But they're betting that the sunnis and shi'a, locked in ancient battles, will never come to terms with the modern world. They'll have back-and-forth fights, just as we see between American gang cultures.

Here, in the USA, we deal with the gang cultures in two ways. ONE. Those who sell drugs are "insiders." They never touch anything except the profits. And, the bad guys live in slums. Where we now have more prisons than universities. And, more people put to work housing this crap, than even gets hired by "homeland security," to do whatever it does.

Well, ya gotta imploy people!

While Bush is pretty much just passing his time in the presidency, as he did at Yale and Haarvard. Hardly the "go to guy" when you want something done.

So we all got invovled IN Iraq, because the Saudis were hot to collect Iraq as "their gift" from the Bush family.

Hasn't exactly played out this way. Which is a very good thing.

On the other hand? Maliki had to go to the Iranians for REAL help! Because the Saudis were inflicting terrible terror on the Shi'a. In Iraq. Only the Kurds figured out how to survive better. They just lock out ALL arabs. And, they're building a fine country.

The other thing that "could" happen? The iranians may be ready to give up their 1979 "victory," and return to civilization? Who really knows.

But Bush won't get credit for anything, except prolonging the agony for the arabs; who usually don't stand up well, on their own.

(5) vnjagvet made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 8:26:46 PM | Permalink

Respectfully, I disagree that Democrats have not paid a price for VN.

Specifically, I believe they lost the 2004 election because of their stand on VN, and their failure to see how vulnerable JFKerry was to VN Veteran's outrage about his post VN anti-war conduct.

When Kerry reported for duty, he resurrected negative emotions that many of us had(even those of us who were Democrats in the past) toward the VN surrender.

I submit that, in many ways, he lost the election at that moment.

(6) Beldar made the following comment | Mar 24, 2007 9:27:25 PM | Permalink

Vnjagvet, you and I agree absolutely on the importance of the revelations about Kerry's actual war record to the 2004 election, for which the nation (and not just the Republican party, because that's not what that was about) owe a debt of gratitude to the SwiftVets and other veterans who couldn't forgive Kerry. Certainly Kerry's candidacy dredged up powerful recollections of his Senate testimony as well, with its memories of that betrayal. And I'll never forget that wimpy "reporting for duty" salute, either. But Kerry was just a mouthpiece and an excuse for radical anti-war forces in the early 1970s; he wasn't the cause of any votes in 1973-1975 to abandon our ally. While his anti-war activism and largely phony war record probably provided the margin of his loss, I don't associate that loss with the later success of the anti-war effort (by which time he was in law school and temporarily out of public life).

LazyMF: Yes, you've understood me precisely.

"Vietnamization" — the strengthening of the South Vietnamese military to permit the withdrawal of American ground forces — was finally a success by the early 1970s, at least for purposes of holding off the North in the short and middle term. The Laos and Cambodian incursions that so inflamed anti-war sentiment in the U.S. actually did have devastating effects on the Viet Cong insurgency; the heavy bombing of North Vietnam and mining of their harbors were likewise effective in causing the North Vietnamese not to give up, but to postpone their overall plans — which, from the late 1950s onward had been to conquer the South through conventional, set-piece confrontations between the South Vietnamese army and the North Vietnamese regulars.

Detente with the Russians and the famous trip to China also weakened those countries' enthusiasm for supporting the North; although the North Vietnamese continued to play one off against the other, like a child of divorcing parents, neither Russia nor China was remotely as aggressive in encouraging the North Vietnamese to commit NVA forces to a cross-DMZ invasion by the early 1970s. By 1970, China was cutting back on the huge numbers of troops it had previously sent to North Vietnam (which had allowed North Vietnam to infiltrate NVA troops south to join the Viet Cong). And of course, by the late 1970s, you had Vietnam invading Cambodia with Russian support, with China then launching punitive raids into Vietnam; all semblance of pan-Communist brothers marching arm-in-arm was pretty well blown by then.

If the South had continued to be backed by American financial and arms support plus American airpower, there is little doubt that as with the South Koreans, the South Vietnamese could have held off the North indefinitely.

Instead, after the Paris accords, the return of American POWs, and the American withdrawal of ground forces, and especially after the American cut-off of funds for either direct aid to the South or even air power backing, both North and South Vietnam knew America was completely out of the war, come what may. And that's when the tanks and division-sized NVA forces rolled down across the DMZ. It wasn't anything like an insurgency then; it was a regular old military conquest; and we all know what happens to regular armies who try to come out and fight even when it's just against American air power. Instead, South Vietnamese units that previously had performed well with American backing (e.g., in repelling the NVA's 1972 Easter Offensive) began to melt away, the exodus started, and the South collapsed at a rate that the even the North Vietnamese found astonishing.

Most of the "conventional wisdom" of the late and post-Vietnam War period — to the effect that the South Vietnamese cause was always hopeless, that this was a civil war of nationalism rather than a genuine Cold War extension of hard-line Communism, that our bombing was ineffective — that's all been thrown into serious doubt by post-Cold War revelations (interviews and documents from the Russians and the North Vietnamese themselves).

Had South Vietnam been stabilized in the manner of South Korea, then at the end of the Cold War there might have still been a unification, but on the German model, with a prosperous and capitalistic (if not fully democratic) South Vietnam absorbing the North. (There's no reason to think that the North Vietnamese would have been as xenophobic and close-minded as the father-and-son dictator team has made North Korea; look at North Vietnam's current embrace of renewed relations with the U.S. and strong moves toward market capitalism.)

As it was, the years America spent in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia turned out to be crucial in preventing Thailand, Malaysia, and possibly Indonesia from going communist. By the early 1970s, neither China nor Russia were nearly so eager to export Communism down through those countries; insurgencies in Thailand and Malaysia had been contained; and the ultimate prize — resource-rich and strategically located Indonesia — had successfully purged its indigenous communist movement (albeit through a repressive government).

The post-Vietnam War conventional wisdom — to the effect that the "Domino Theory" was always bunk, and that there were no dominoes — has itself been debunked by post-Cold War revelations: Throughout the 1960s there were dominoes, and but for American involvement in South Vietnam and America's perceived commitment to resisting Communism throughout Southeast Asia, those dominoes were indeed ripe to be knocked over. That they didn't topple in the 1970s even when we abandoned South Vietnam is a reflection of changes in superpower relations and in indigenous resistance. The fall-out from the American abandonment was mostly felt in South Vietnam itself and in neighboring Cambodia (and to a lesser extent in neighboring Laos). Of course the genocide in Cambodia wasn't the result of China and Russia exporting Communism, but rather Pol Pot's and the Khmer Rouge's anarchy and insanity, which the victorious North Vietnamese were content to simply watch until about 1978. I can't imagine a still-free South Vietnam, were it still backed by America, being similarly passive as millions were slaughtered in Cambodia to create a vacuum into which the North Vietnamese eventually expanded. There would have been humanitarian as well as strategic reasons to interfere with the genocide, maybe through carrots, or maybe through sticks.

(I'll be reviewing one such important new book on the history of the Vietnam war before 1965 in a week or two; I'm almost finished with it, and I think it's the most important history book I've read in many, many years. Not crackpot stuff; mainstream, just more current and hence revisionist.)

Basically, JFK was right about Vietnam from the beginning. He certainly screwed the pooch in 1963 by permitting Lodge and others to permit the Diem coup, which set back years of progress. But ultimately, it was his legacy — "we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty" — that the hardcore anti-war Democrats betrayed post-Watergate. And Nixon's paranoid enabling of their sudden rise to power through his own domestic self-destruction becomes all the more sadly ironic in that light.

But most Americans — probably including most Congressmen who are now debating what might happen in the Middle East if we cut and run in Iraq — still couldn't pick out Laos or Cambodia on a map. They're vaguely aware (from pictures of the helicopters taking off from the American embassy in Saigon in April 1975) that there were refugees, some of whom ended up in America. But they don't remotely appreciate the full scope of even that exodus, nor the larger consequences for the millions of South Vietnamese who didn't (or couldn't) leave. Well educated Americans may or may not remember some vague details of the Cambodian situation if they saw "The Killing Fields," but they probably have that movie confused with "The Year of Living Dangerously." ("All those yellow people rioting, who can remember? Which one was Mel Gibson in? Which one had the piles of bones?") Americans who can rattle off several Nazi death camps by name and tell you how many died in the Holocaust in Europe are literally clueless about what our pull-out and abandonment of the South Vietnamese caused in Southeast Asia.

(7) Griswel made the following comment | Mar 25, 2007 5:05:44 PM | Permalink

What's needed for the Dems to pay a political price - the only thing they care about and the only thing that will alter their future behavior - is for Conservatives to nail them for their policies.

America needs to stop apologizing for defending itself, and for that to happen the right needs to stop being so timid.

(8) Bithead made the following comment | Mar 25, 2007 6:38:05 PM | Permalink

Right now, though, I don't care much about whether either party pays a political price. Instead, I'm worried about the consequences for our nation, and the world, if in the current debate about Iraq, Americans fail to consider properly what happened as a result of the American abandonment of South Vietnam in 1973-1975. I'm worried about the price we'll all end up paying if we cannot overcome our national amnesia on that subject.

The one problem that I have with this statement is that had the Democrats actually paid the proper price, for what they did to us and the Vietnamese back in the seventies, there wouldn't be all these questions about Iraq, now. We would have fought to victory without all the argument, had the lesson of Vietnam truly been learned.

(9) MarkJ made the following comment | Mar 25, 2007 7:16:15 PM | Permalink

Can't add much more than this:

I've got a ten spot that says Peter Beinart and his pals will be the first ones to scream, "What the f*** happened?" when car bombs start exploding in Georgetown.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

(10) Pablo made the following comment | Mar 25, 2007 9:11:31 PM | Permalink

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I studied the Vietnam War as a college senior in 1985 (key texts were Lewy's "America in Vietnam" and Colonel Harry Summer's "On Vietnam" as well as Clausewitz's book on military strategy). I was dumbfounded at how ignorant of the war I had been prior to the course, and even more so at the ignorance of those around me (especially those a few years older for whom the Vietnam War supposedly shaped their world view).

I have harped endlessly that the denouement of our abandonment of the South Vietnamese is very possibly the historical low-point of our nation's foreign interactions, and that the blood of the boat people, of the victims of the killing fields, and of the poor South Vietnamese left to an awful fate after the conquest of their country is on the hands of the congresspeople who cut off American support of South Vietnam. I have wondered whence would come the voice from among the current political class that explained this to the current generation of voters. I am still waiting, but it is nice to see it explicated so well here.

(11) Ted made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 5:54:46 AM | Permalink

Griswell writes: "America needs to stop apologizing for defending itself, and for that to happen the right needs to stop being so timid."

You're kidding, right? Until mid-2006, there was no apologizing of any kind. Instead, anyone who raised questions about the war was branded a traitor. And Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson and the rest are still beating that same drum. They are losing influence not because they've stopped taking a hard line but because no one is listening anymore. They've simply been wrong too many times.

(12) Moneyrunner made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 6:30:47 AM | Permalink

"Bye-bye, GI. In Iraq you’re gonna die.”

The children of those who pushed the shameful abandonment and mass murders in Viet Nam and Cambodia are now named "Ted" and having chosen to to cover their eyes and ears and yelling "na, na, na, can't hear you" are now repeating the antics of their parents. And they bathe themselves in self-righteous hatred.

We no longer question their patriotism.

(13) ajacksonian made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 6:45:52 AM | Permalink

Beldar - A wonderful summation of what went on and the immediate problems of the Nation running. What is forgotten, however, by all involved, is that there were long term consequences of defeat far beyond the immediate SE Asian area. Very few have done that analysis and Jerry Pournelle put out some time ago, back in the '90s if I recall, that Ronald Reagan had looked at those and realized that because no one was asking the question, no one had the answer. That formed the basis of his campaign and outlook, although the far-reaching problems of a resurgent Soviet Union that saw proxy war as a way to exhaust the US and *win* globally, led to far, far worse things that could not be handled by the Cold War politicians and punditry.

The other effect of what went on by Congress is the slow, long term and continued shift of voters out of American politics. The Democrats, by having Presidents Kennedy and Johnson promise that this was a war worth fighting, took them at their word. And those that supported the Nation in that realm, to assert power when it is duly needed, were alienated by *both parties* on this. The Nation had always seen a 5% or so disaffected rate amongst the voting age population. That has climbed to become the majority, today: they will not vote as neither of these grand parties holds themselves accountable for their actions nor puts forward an honorable means of upholding the Nation. When democracy is no longer held as a common value by the majority, you are on the road to losing democratic ideals.

From that a '50/50' Nation is *not* the result, but a 30/30/30/10 with that last 5-10% the permanently disaffected. By not supporting a Friend and Ally in warfare, they saw the Nation as walking out on *them* and these individuals have walked out on the Nation in response.

Now, in our current fight which is a minor back-alley tussle considering the tender mercies that World War inflicted on the gruesome 20th century, we find that there is nothing to hold the Nation together. We do not and, indeed, cannot fight this new 'Long War' like the last one as it is not a conflict of Nation to Nation: it is an attack against Peoples to *have* Nations. If we forget that there were honorable ways to fight before the 20th century that were perfectly acceptable to this Nation, we can reformulate what warfare *is* and where the responsibilities lie. They do not rest wholly on Government, but it is necessary in this fight to have that, so we can fight for this Nation.

Because the final protectors of all we hold dear is not the Armed Forces, not the CIA, not the FBI, not the Federal Government nor any of the States of the Union. It rests wholly and completely upon those who call themselves "We the People". And no political party will say *that* as it means that they are not the power in this Republic. Because they wish us to forget that politicians serve the People, and slide us into the People serving the politicians. And neither of the main parties escapes that, because both have marginalized any discourse into polar opposites and offer no common ground.

(14) Kevin McDonnell made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 7:05:23 AM | Permalink

This historical reality, and the insanely obvious truth of it on its face, combined with the fact that this truth in real time, simply does not matter at all in terms of political imagery and the will to power, has been a major (and painful) part of my personal ideological maturity process. It does not matter much what is true or even factual, because we live in a hermetic Platonic Cave the likes of which have never been seen before, and the sublety of which is terrifying in its power. THIS is real. Reality itself in our mass consciousness, is secondary to a narrative that undermines the dignity of the human spirit and diminishes meaning in the human endeavor. And we then surrender our free will willingly to imagery that plays to our most vulgar vanities and deepese fears. We call the fruit of this "nihilism" and then reject it as a peripheral epiphenomenon that applies to others... who are of course few.

Those, almost invariably of some falvr if "progressive" ilk, who think that by the superiority of their intellect and sentiments, they can play this metaphysical state to their advantage... are in fact its most pliant tools and servants.

If we could see this in its totality for just an instant, from some slightly higher plane that exceeds the capability of any small and humble individual human mind (as they ALL are), we would see true EVIL in all its grotesque glory, and understand what that word really embraces. Deceit and ruthlessness culminating in a noxious mileiu raised to high science and fine art. No wonder we are cultivated in our sensibilities to reject the meaningfulness of the word itself. It is becoming ubiquitous like never before.

This, in the 21st century, is the way it is. The kinds of mass deceptions and historical revisions that are actually part of older chapters history that we can observe and read about today in ignorant bliss under the illusion that this ancient folly could not possibly be at play in our modern world, is itself a folly, with unspeakably tragic and poisonous consequences because of what the modern world REALLY is.

Oh but they meant well right? They were for PEACE after all.

(15) daveinboca made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 9:59:08 AM | Permalink

I believe Kevin has summed up the trahison des clercs and its consequences quite well. The mass psychosis of nihilist multiculturism is becoming accepted as reality, and defending ones culture and traditions inappropriate behavior. To paraphrase:

Love is Hate.
Freedom is Slavery.
Truth is a Lie.

Orwell was a prophet.

(16) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 2:54:45 PM | Permalink

The bottom line is Bush did far more damage to the national interest getting us into Iraq then the Democrats did getting us out of Vietnam.

I think an American withdrawal from Iraq is inevitable as most Americans (like me) are not willing to keep spending American lives and treasure indefinitely trying to keep Iraqis from killing each other.

(17) Moneyrunner made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 7:10:35 PM | Permalink

Americans (like me) are not willing to keep spending American lives and treasure indefinitely trying to keep Iraqis from killing each other.

Thanks for illustrating perfectly that Liberals are both feckless and witless.

(18) Moneyrunner made the following comment | Mar 26, 2007 7:16:53 PM | Permalink

The kinds of mass deceptions and historical revisions that are actually part of older chapters history that we can observe and read about today in ignorant bliss under the illusion that this ancient folly could not possibly be at play in our modern world,

There are consequences to this moral evil. So far those moral eunuchs who perpetrated this have been exempt from paying the price. When the day comes that reality intrudes they will say "Who? Me?"

(19) James B. Shearer made the following comment | Mar 27, 2007 10:55:55 PM | Permalink

Moneyrunner, I am not a liberal so don't blame them for me.

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