Watching the news out of Iraq brings an obvious comparison to mind. History has repeated itself in disturbing detail. This video shows how…
Hello All. And Happy 4th of July. There isn’t a heck of a lot to celebrate about the US Government right now, but there is something about the American people worth learning. It is something that should be more widely known, in Washington, DC most of all.
You may have seen the news out of Iraq recently. The Fall of Mosul, and the religious war that is likely to boil over in the coming months are putting the final nail in the coffin of the Bush foreign policy legacy. There are a lot of fingers being pointed right now, but neither party is without sin on this one. Sadly it is nothing new. We have been here before.
The last few weeks look like Saigon in 1975 in so many ways. Our second longest war, in Vietnam, was just as complete a failure. We left behind a puppet regime that fell about two years after the last US combat troops left. This iconic image of abandoned South Vietnamese desperately trying to board one oVietf the last US helicopters came to symbolize that loss in Vietnam. We will probably be spared similar images from Baghdad, but that is only because our puppet regime is quickly becoming Iran’s puppet regime.
This image has been used for years by people claiming that we could have won Vietnam if we’d just stuck with it a little longer. Some of the same people are starting to sing the same song about Iraq. They claim that ending these wars was a failure of National Will. They are half right. But ending these wars was not the failure.
The American people are simply not interested in Empire. This is the point that they keep missing in Washington, DC. It wasn’t always this way. In the 19th Century the American people dragged an often unwilling governing apparatus across North America. Imperial dreams can still sometimes briefly motivate us, and even get Presidents engraved on Mountains, but we no longer tolerate significant losses in pursuit of these dreams. We’ve got a pretty good thing going here, and aren’t interested in any more territory. We know that our interests are not served by foreign adventures. We know that our freedom is not served by taking away the freedom of others.
Washington, DC does not know this. In 1964 President Johnson used an imaginary naval battle in the Gulf of Tonkin to create a reason for a dramatically wider war. He was served by a range of bureaucratically brilliant men and women who were convinced that they could bend people they didn’t understand to their will. Sound Familiar?
The loss of Johnson’s war led to an unfortunately short lived Vietnam War Syndrome, which was an unwillingness to use US military power. The first George Bush supposedly cured that syndrome with his victory in the Gulf War. We now know however, that that victory, was just the opening act of new Vietnam.
So what’s worth learning here? Why did we have to do this twice? Well it wasn’t Washington, DC that decided to end the war in Vietnam, and it wasn’t Washington, DC that decided to end the war in Iraq. It was the American people. The lesson is that the people of the most powerful country in the world are not interested in empire. We should all be grateful for this. This lesson is one we must not forget. Last fall, we managed to stop a new rush to war in Syria. But we have to do more. We must find a way to change the military, political and corporate structures that let these wars keep happening. We owe it to ourselves. More importantly, we owe it to the millions of Vietnamese and Iraqis that our government has killed. We may not survive learning this lesson a third time.
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