When you look at the Vietnam War Memorial, with those 57,000 names of dead Americans on it, you should feel anger.
All of those young lives were sacrificed by blundering civilian politicians and bureaucrats who made their deaths meaningless. They died because of the posturing and ineptness of politicians in Washington who sent them to war for no logical reason and with no grand strategy for winning. Then, after so many deaths, the American politicians lost their nerve and pulled out, leaving the South Vietnamese government as easy prey for the North.
Vietnam today is a communist country. It could have become a communist country without 57,000 Americans dying in its jungles, mountains and rice paddies. At no time were the communists in Vietnam a threat to the United States.
Now we have Americans dying in another country that was not and never could have been a threat to the United States. Iraq had a bad dictator. Lots of countries have or have had bad dictators. Some of the dictators were installed by the United States, and others were aided by it. Merely toppling a foreign dictator is not a legitimate use of the U.S. military.
Nor is the world safer for the absence of Saddam Hussein, as the present administration keeps saying. That's because Saddam was never a threat to the world in the first place. American politicians so demonized Saddam, you would think that he was a genius in charge of a large industrial country. He is not a genius. Iraq is not a large country. The only war Saddam ever won was against Kuwait, which is the geographical equivalent of a postage stamp. Saddam was a ruthless, but not overly bright, thug who held power in a small country with a divided population. He was a threat only to his own people.
Militarily, he was nothing but a straw man. Defeating Iraq in both wars was the equivalent of a heavyweight boxer beating up a 3-year-old. There was no contest. There was never any chance of a contest. Iraq never recovered from its unsuccessful war with Iran and was growing weaker and weaker under sanctions and bombing. It had no air force. It had no air defenses worthy of the name. Its equipment was obsolete; the discipline of the forces was weak to nonexistent.
Americans should not be deluded by the fact that the American news media made it seem like the defeat of Hannibal or a second Normandy invasion. It was barely more than a live-fire exercise. The majority of the American casualties are from the resistance, not from the war.
And you tell me: What is being accomplished by these young Americans dying in Iraq? It's not saving Americans from weapons of mass destruction. There aren't any. It's not saving America from al-Qaida. Saddam and Osama bin Laden hated each other and never cooperated. Are these young people dying just to do a favor for the Iraqis? The Iraqis don't want us in their country. It's pretty hard to justify the claim that Iraqis are grateful when they are busy killing their so-called liberators.
It might not be on the same scale, but it's Vietnam all over again. A war in a foreign country that was no threat to the United States. No strategy for victory. A complete misreading of both the country and its people. In the end, the Americans who die in Iraq will, like their brothers who died in Vietnam, have died for nothing. We'll end up installing a replacement dictator. But even if the Iraqis have elections, those elections should not be purchased with American blood.
I would hope that the American people would be (expletive deleted) tired of politicians (expletive deleted) away the lives of our sons and daughters for stupid or hidden reasons. No American soldier should ever die, except in defense of his or her own country. Period. End of story. And every politician who wastes American blood should be thrown out of office.
August 30, 2004
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.
© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.