Baghdad: The New Saigon?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
11/14/06 "WND" --- - It appears the Beltway bombing halt
agreed upon at the Bush-Pelosi summit is over.
The incoming chairmen of the Senate’s armed services and
foreign affairs committees, Carl Levin and Joe Biden – and
Majority Leader Harry Reid – say a phased withdrawal of U.S.
forces from Iraq will be their first priority. Troop
redeployment, says Reid, “should start within the next few
White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton counters: “I don’t
think we’re going to be receptive to the notion there’s a
fixed timetable at which we automatically pull out, because
that would be a true disaster for the Iraqi people.”
John McCain says we need more troops to crush the Mahdi Army
and militias, and achieve victory. If we set a deadline for
withdrawal, said McCain, we risk a Saigon ending, with
Americans being helicoptered off the roof of the U.S.
embassy. McCain appears to be adopting the George Wallace
stance of 1968 – “Win, or Get Out!”
And so we come to the endgame in a war into which we were
plunged by Bush Republicans and those neoconservatives now
scurrying back to their think tanks, and the
Clinton-Kerry-Edwards-Biden-Reid-Daschle Democrats, who
voted Bush a blank check in October 2002 to get the war
issue “out of the way” before the elections.
America has been horribly served by both parties. And as the
Democrats have now captured Congress, they assume
co-responsibility for the retreat from Mesopotamia. Which is
as it should be.
While our leaders never thought through the probable result
of invading an Arab nation that had not attacked us, we had
best think through the probable results of a pullout in
We are being told that by giving the Iraqis a deadline,
after which we start to withdraw, we will stiffen their
spines to take up greater responsibility for their own
country. But there is as great or greater a likelihood that
a U.S. pullout will break their morale and spirit, that the
Iraqi government and army, seeing Americans heading for the
exit ramp, will collapse before an energized enemy, and
Shias, Sunnis and Kurds will scramble for security and
survival among their own.
Arabs are not ignorant of history. They know that when we
pulled out of South Vietnam, a Democratic Congress cut off
aid to the Saigon regime, and every Cambodian and Vietnamese
who had cast his lot with us wound up dead, in a
“re-education camp” or among the boat people in the South
China Sea whose wives and children were routinely assaulted
by Thai pirates.
In that first year of “peace” in Southeast Asia, 20 times as
many Cambodians perished as all the Americans who died in 10
years of war.
In Iraq, a collapse of the government and army in the face
of an American pullout, followed by a civil-sectarian war,
the break-up of the country and a strategic debacle for the
United States – emboldening our enemies and imperiling our
remaining friends in the Arab world – is a real possibility.
Yet what Edmund Burke said remains true: “[N]o war can be
long carried on against the will of the people.” And the
American people are losing, if they have not lost, the will
to continue this war. They are weary of the daily killing
and dying, and of the endless talk of “progress” when all
they see is death. They believe the war was a mistake, and
they want to come home.
Our hawkish elites bemoan the fact that Americans seem ready
to give up on Iraq when U.S. casualties are not 10 percent
of those we took in the Korean War. That is because they do
not understand the nation.
Americans are not driven by some ideological vocation to
reform mankind. We do not have the patience or perseverance
of great imperial peoples. If an issue is not seen as vital
to our own liberty and security, we will not fight long for
some abstraction like democracy, self-determination or human
It is a myth that we went to war to save the world from
fascism. We went to war in 1941 because Japan bombed Pearl
Harbor. That Hitler had overrun France, booted the British
off the continent and invaded Stalin’s empire was not a
reason to send American boys across the ocean to die.
In 1990, Americans were not persuaded to throw Iraq out of
Kuwait until Bush 1 got to talking about Saddam’s nuclear
weapons. Even after 9-11, Americans were skeptical of
marching to Baghdad until we were told Saddam was building
weapons of mass destruction and probably intended to use
them on us. Americans have often had to be lied into war.
Democrats are probably reading the country right. Americans
will not send added troops to Iraq, as McCain urges. They
want out of this war and are willing to take the
But those consequences are going to be ugly and enduring.
That is what happens to nations that commit historic
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