Day By Day

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

American Credibility, American Purpose, American Will

Mark Steyn explains something that is blindingly obvious to people outside this country, but to which our politicians and pundits seem oblivious:
[A]s Iran reminds us, the enduring legacy of the retreat from Vietnam was the emboldening of other enemies. The forces loosed in the Middle East bedevil to this day, in Iran, and in Lebanon, which Syria invaded shortly after the fall of Saigon and after its dictator had sneeringly told Henry Kissinger, "You've betrayed Vietnam. Someday you're going to sell out Taiwan. And we're going to be around when you get tired of Israel."

President Assad understood something that too many Americans didn't. Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it's only about the place you're fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The " Vietnam war" was about Vietnam if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon. But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is. Osama bin Laden made a bet that, pace the T-shirt slogan, "These Colors Do Run": They ran from Vietnam, and they ran from the helicopters in the desert, and from Lebanon and Somalia -- and they will run from Iraq and Afghanistan, because that is the nature of a soft plump ersatz-superpower that coils up in the fetal position if you prick its toe.
Read the whole thing here.

The costs of retreat from Vietnam, which so many on the Left refuse to countenance, are not just an immense humanitarian disaster afflicting the peoples of the region but also lasting damage to America's reputation around the world. In Iraq and Afghanistan we have an opportunity to reverse this perception of American weakness and in George Bush a leader with the fortitude to see these conflicts through to a satisfactory conclusion. Nothing could be better for the peoples of the world than a reassertion of American strength and resolve. It is time to put the ghosts of Vietnam finally to rest.