Mittwoch, Oktober 28, 2009

The Left, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Allies...

This drew my ire.

One of the defining aspects of the modern American left is their commitment to a cost-free foreign policy. They basically want the world to listen to what we say - much like they'd like the US population to do the same thing - but they don't want to spend money and make commitments that entail American soldiers dying overseas.

It's really that simple. They want a foreign policy without costs, without lives lost. They don't want the lives lost because any life lost is a "waste" (regardless of why) and they don't want the costs because they've got "better" things to do with the money. Scratch any modern leftist and you'll find someone who would rather spend money on poverty (one of the greatest absurdities of all time: the War on Poverty was won, but by poverty) and union jobs rather than on the men, women and weapons needed to defend the country. Their overarching, supremely naive and internationally ignorant belief is that if we can just sit down and talk to people, they'll understand that war is a bad thing and won't do it.

Sure, I'm oversimplifying, but the core of the matter remains.

Now, in Vietnam the South Vietnamese and the US won the military war (yep, that's the case: go read your history books instead of the drivel that passes for education that most receive) and beat off an invasion from the North that used more tanks than the Germans had at the beginning of WW2.

The war was lost when Congress cut funds to South Vietnam to the extent that North Vietnam knew it couldn't lose when it rearmed and sent another massive military force to invade the South again. This time the South Vietnamese, despite the sacrifices of the ARVN 18th Division (outnumbered 7:1, it destroyed three NVA divisions before being overrun), collapsed: bereft of logistics and abandoned by Washington, the South Vietnamese military collapsed and the country was rapidly occupied by the North Vietnamese.

The key point here is that South Vietnam, for all its problems and corruption, was a functioning country, largely pacified (the Viet Cong had been destroyed by the Tet Offensive and rural pacification over the following years) and most certainly viable, but threatened by massive forces from the North (armed by the Chinese and Soviets with logistics and weapons) that made the country extremely vulnerable, economically, militarily and politically.

North Vietnam won because they were able to help US domestic opposition to the war spread the propaganda from the North. Outrages such as the "Column of Tears" where over 120 000 civilians were killed by the North Vietnamese forces in pursuit of South Vietnamese forces retreating (the civilians were fleeing the fighting and the North Vietnamese made no efforts to avoid killing civilians in the pursuit of the ARVN forces, which were mixed in with the refugees) were dismissed as propaganda, while the peace movement swallowed the fiction that it was the Viet Cong who were taking over the country (it wasn't: it was a massive invasion of the South by the North in blatant disregard for the Geneva Accords between the two countries).

Are we now seeing the same in Afghanistan?

First of all, Richard Cohen dismisses General McChrystal as a "celebrity soldier", making fun of his popularity with the troops and his commitment to fitness.

Second: reducing the request for troops to "that's what Generals do", Westmoreland did it before "reality" (read: domestic opposition to the war) stopped him.

According to Cohen:

Those whose own battle cry is "Give the generals what they need" are actually saying "Give the generals what they want" — which is not responsible policymaking.

No, Mr. Cohen: giving those to whom you have given tasks that require resources less than those resources is not responsible policymaking. History has taught that trying to do too much with too little is a repeatable recipe for higher losses and getting beaten on the battlefield. It is the height of irresponsibility to tell the troops (and Mr. Cohen, the troops aren't dumb) that because the government wants to reform health care, more soldiers are going to die because the US has decided it doesn't want to win the war and is dithering about what to do about it.

Short-changing the troops in the field is a recipe for disaster that can be seen by anyone with a modicum of understanding of logistics and the military: it costs real money to fight a war. It also costs lives that Americans always regret (our opponents aren't so squeamish: they understand what they are doing).

But it costs even more to abandon allies.

To repeat: the Democrats want a cost-free foreign policy that requires no commitments of money and blood. Obama isn't making a careful and weighed judgment about the war in Afghanistan. He's trying to find a way to avoid making decisions that he will have to back up. He's procrastinating. He wants to send in drones and fight a nice, sanitary war where no one on our side ever gets hurt.

Abandoning Afghanistan has, for the Left, enormous attractiveness: corrupt government, mostly ignorant and extremely religious peasants, not much of value there (besides drugs), and we get to look good in the eyes of Leftists everywhere to show that the US won't live up to its commitments (since these commitments were the cornerstone of anti-Soviet policy and remains the outrage of the Left (that the US is an imperialist power, just like the Marx, the Soviets and Mao told)). They get to then scale back the military - we don't wanna fight wars no more - and spend the money on all those important domestic agendas that they hope will ensure that they remain in power. For the Left, abandoning Afghanistan, just like abandoning Vietnam, is a win-win-win situation in every imaginable way.

Why then, would anyone conceivably want to ally themselves with the United States?

The world is not a perfect place, filled with puppies and unicorns, and we'd all live happily ever after when the government takes care of you from cradle to grave. Where we'd all get along together if we could just talk things out.

The world is filled with attack dogs that grew from those puppies, and there aren't unicorns out there, but bears and big cats, and as long as there is evil in the world, men (and women) will kill for fame and profit, in order to control their fellow men and enslave them, in order to enjoy the fruits of other people's labor and to hear the lamentations of their women and the cries of their children.

Mr. Cohen and his like are the core of the problem. They are not the solution.

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