The Corner

Enough With Vietnam

Look, I’m fine with folks who want to make the case that Iraq is this, that or another thing. If you want to argue it’s a disaster, argue it’s a disaster. If you want to make the case it’s going swimmingly, that’s cool too.

But can we please just drop the Vietnam analogies? It was a jungle war. It was a proxy conflict in the Cold War. It was a war in a country with a wildly different culture. We had a different politics. We had a draft and draftee army. The Civil Rights movement was in full flower. The domestic Left was more powerful, more radicalized and more listened to. Al Jazeera did not exist. Our media was controlled by a monopoly symbolized by Walter Cronkite’s “the war is unwinnable” statememt. We had different weapons in Vietnam. Nor did satellite television and 24 hour cable news. Islam wasn’t an issue. We didn’t occupy the whole country. Some of these factors could easily be argued against our presence in Iraq. That’s not the point. The point is that Vietnam is different. Our experience there illuminates, at best dimly, and often not at all what is happening today. Get over it.

What also drives me nuts about the Vietnam analogies is that there are obviously better examples in one sense or another from our own military history (the Phillipines perhaps?) and certainly from the British experience (everywhere). But either because the authors of op-eds don’t want to do that sort of homework or because editors think Vietnam moves copy for the historically illiterate like stories about dogs and Britney Spears do for everone else, they don’t want to run that stuff. There is of course the larger cultural background radiation of babyboomer obsession with Vietnam as if no obsession with it is unjustified.

I don’t know where these guys from

Slate fall into that picture, they seem like smart and decent enough folks. And others can take apart what seems to me just so much statistical legerdemain. But personally, I have just stopped taking seriously any argument which hinges on Vietnam analogies.

I mean even if Iraq was like Vietnam in one sense or another, what exactly does that mean? Are the lessons from Vietnam so clear-cut that given everything else that has changed — technology, the demise of the Soviet Union, military strategy — we must still follow the liberal anti-Vietnam protestor’s advice and cut and run? There is no nostalgia more myopic and infuriating than liberal nostalgia.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More