Iraq and Vietnam

January 18, 2005

Powerline has a thought provoking post citing a piece by Michael Gove in the London Times on the international news media viewing Iraq through the lens of Vietnam. I think that’s doubtlessly true, and it also applies to the Old Media in the United States.

Powerline’s Hindrocket posts some interesting paragraphs from the Times piece, but I think Hindrocket’s closing paragraph is most interesting:

It is remarkable how reactionary the conventional critique of President Bush’s Middle Eastern policy is. Conventional wisdom on the left now is that we should have left Saddam in place, and, going forward, we must do nothing to disturb the precious equilibrium represented by near-universal tyranny in that region. That policy was never right; and, if September 11 proved anything, it is that the reactionary approach to the Arab world isn’t safe, either.

This is exactly right. The Old Media and Dems are forever saying that by attacking Iraq we have enraged the Muslim world and spawned thousands, maybe millions, of new terrorists. They never seem to remember that the terrorists attacked us without provocation. Not just on 9/11, but in a series of incidents over the past decade and more. There was no equilibrium in place, at least not one that would insulate the United States from terrorist attack.

But Hindrocket’s statement that the conventional wisdom is that we should have left Saddam in place also deserves comment. The Left has been very shifty in their opposition to the Iraq War. Sometimes they say we should never have attacked; other times they say we should have done so, but only after we organized a larger coalition, blah, blah, blah. What’s noteworthy is that the degree of their insistence that we should never have attacked Iraq is directly related to their perception of how we’re doing there. If they think we’re experiencing greater difficulties they’ll come right out and say that attacking Iraq was the wrong thing to do. If we’re doing better they might soften their approach. Nothing like foreign policy through a 20/20 Hindsight lens. Even the New York Times Tom Friedman is apparently vacillating again, saying good things about President Bush’s foreign policy. Do you think he senses that the elections are going to usher in some evidence that we made the right decision? Nevertheless, most of the Old Media and International Media boys and girls are basking in the glow of our difficulties in Iraq and boldly saying, for now, that we never should have attacked. It will be interesting to see what these people say if and when things do finally settle down in Iraq and the people begin to exercise self-rule.