A matter of compassion, &c.


The headline over this story tells us, “Clyburn says compassion necessary in deficit talks.” Who’s Clyburn? A member of the Democratic House leadership. You know what I think compassion is? Saving the country from insolvency. Not dooming future generations to penury. As far as I’m concerned, Paul Ryan and his Republican allies are just about the most compassionate people around.

This headline is related to our current woes: “Number of 100-year-olds is booming in US.” In the story we read, “. . . turning 100 isn’t such a big deal anymore.” Which is wonderful. But we have to figure out how to handle this tricky — very, very tricky — matter of what goes under the name “entitlements.”

Who says the Obama administration is taking no action on Syria? Eat your words! “US urges Americans to leave Syria amid violence.”

I know more than a few conservatives the cockles of whose hearts would be warmed by this story: “Belgium goes 1 year without full government.” Of course, to people who think that compassion equals government, those who would be warmed by this story have no hearts. Or cockles. (What are they?)

I settled down to read a long piece on Samantha Power, the Obama foreign-policy aide. I figured I should learn more about her. But I couldn’t get past the first paragraph. I couldn’t continue reading. That paragraph begins as follows:

Humanitarian intervention — the conviction that American presidents must act, preemptively if necessary, to avert the massacre of innocents abroad — is steadily acquiring a new prominence in the Obama administration. For America’s foreign-policy elite, it is a precept that provides a way to expiate the sins of the past, either bellicose action (Vietnam) or complacent inaction (Rwanda).

Let me say something about Vietnam. Why do people fail to appreciate the magnitude of what we Americans, with South Vietnam, were trying to prevent? When Reagan, after the war, referred to Vietnam as a “noble cause,” our liberals, broadly speaking, freaked out. Why? (Well, we know why. I’m just being rhetorical. When they finally got their way — a complete cutoff of the South — great horrors ensued.)

Face the facts: When the Communists brought peace and unification to the peninsula, they killed approximately one million people. You don’t like that number? Too high? Okey dokey: Call it 783,694. Happy now? This is to say nothing of other unpleasantnesses in “reeducation camps” and elsewhere. It is also to say nothing of what the Communists did in neighboring Cambodia (i.e., murder over 20 percent of the population).

I remember the words of Gen. Vernon Walters, words I have quoted in this column before. They are (in paraphrase), “For over ten years, bombs rained down on every village and hamlet in South Vietnam, and no one budged. It took the coming of a Communist ‘peace’ to send hundreds of thousands of people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, or might float, to risk dehydration, piracy, drowning . . .”

“Bellicose action,” said the above-quoted article, about America in Vietnam. More like merciful action, I would say.

I have a memory of August 2007. President Bush gave a speech in Kansas City, before American war veterans. Our media establishment howled in pain and fury. At no time in the Bush presidency did they howl louder — and they did a lot of howling in those eight years. What did Bush do? He was warning of the danger of leaving Iraq too soon. And he took note of Southeast Asia. An excerpt:

In 1972, one anti-war senator put it this way: “What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince, or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they’ve never seen and may never have heard of?”

A columnist for the New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the Communists. “It’s difficult to imagine,” he said, “how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone.” A headline on that story, dateline Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: “Indochina without Americans: For Most a Better Life.”

Oh, did they howl. It’s not nice to mention the aftermath of the Vietnam War, you know. (For the full speech, go here.)