08 February 2006

Lessons of Vietnam

A year ago, I wrote a post that I was pretty proud of about how the different lessons that the right and left had taken from Vietnam were informing thinking about Iraq. I said that in the right's memory ...

Vietnam was a failure of American will — had we really tried hard enough of course we would have "won." But the meddling politicians, under pressure from the cowards in the antiwar movement, dishonorably stayed our military's hand.

I had always imagined that this was a myth of Vietnam that emerged in the late '70s, after the dust had cleared a bit and mythologizing could begin.

It seems I was wrong. This idea was brewing at least as early as 1969, while the war was going on, as demonstrated by this Nixon speech which I just stumbled across.

So tonight: to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support. I pledged in my campaign for the Presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge. The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed, for the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris. Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat — or humiliate — the United States. Only Americans can do that.

Any failure is the fault of political opposition to the President. Why does that sound familiar?

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