Monday, February 24, 2003

With Saddam Hussein posing no immediate threat, and even the administration's pet Iraqi dissidents calling their postwar plans "Baathism with an American face", the case for war now looks a bit iffy. What's reluctant hawk to do? Here's one last argument:

As much as I'm unhappy about how the Bush administration has mishandled everything, backing out now could have disastrous consequences. And so we liberal hawks hold our noses and hope for the best.

As I've noted before, this was Henry Kissinger's argument for why the United States needed to stay in Vietnam. He spent years seeking a way out of the war which would somehow avoid conceding the obvious --- that the Vietnamese had kicked us out, as they had the Mongols and Ming emperors before us. He failed, and the only thing there is to show for his efforts are thousands of unnecessary names on unnecessary marble slabs on a wall.

The power and prestige of the United States was not diminished nearly as much by the surrender as it was by the war that preceded it.

Update: Well, that's the only thing that Americans have to show for it, anyway. David Byron, commenting on Atrios' blog, reminds me that the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians have plenty to show for it as well, in mangled bodies and poisoned land...


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