Battlepanda: To be strong and wrong...


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, July 29, 2005

To be strong and wrong...

Are we over Vietnam yet? Publius of Legal Fiction argues 'no'.
It’s one of the great puzzles of contemporary American history – why are the people who were right about Vietnam shunned by so many (including the political majorities of their day)? Why aren’t they celebrated the same way the abolitionists are celebrated? After all, they were right - demonstrably so. And as for “excesses,” the protestors weren’t “excessive” enough if you ask me, and I suspect that a few ghosts whose names are etched on a black marble wall on the National Mall would agree.
But anyway, my larger point is that America is still suffering from a “Vietnam syndrome,” but not the one you’re thinking of. The original “Vietnam syndrome” referred to the reluctance of Americans to send troops to war after the fall of Saigon. The critique that many conservatives and hawkish liberals made was that this reluctance morphed into irrational knee-jerk hostility to the use of any and all military force. What I call the “other Vietnam syndrome” is precisely the opposite. It refers to the mindset of those who are so anxious to distance themselves from the anti-war movement of the 60s that they have developed an irrational and knee-jerk acceptance of any and all exercises of military force. [snip] matter how bad Iraq gets, and no matter how convinced Americans are that it was a mistake, I’m certain that no anti-Iraq candidate has a prayer in 2008. To be “credible” on the national level, you had to have supported the invasion.
It's read-the-whole-thing material. As a progressive, you will be chilled. As an American, you will be saddened. How raw the wound of Vietnam still is. Sometime it seems like we've surely had enough time, distance and buddie-movies to have come to terms with it. But the sting of defeat is still there, right beneath the surface. Perhaps the more Iraq resembles Vietnam, the harder it is not to think of it as a second chance to do things right. Eventually the sheer magnitude of Bush's blunder will convince (nay, is convincing) the American people that Iraq was a mistake. But the greater the hurt, the harder it will be to say 'I told you so' without becoming a traitor in American hearts.