Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Lessons of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal

Dr. Earl Tilford, a military historian and former director of research at the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute, has an interesting piece over at FrontPageMagazine today. Tilford discusses the final years of American military operations in Vietnam, focusing on the disastrous consequences of America's exit for those remaining in-country after the final evacuation:

Enormous numbers of South Vietnamese who fought for the Saigon government and who supported U.S. policy were left behind to face the harsh “justice” of the victorious communists. In Cambodia and Laos major blood baths took place. The Cambodian Khmer Rough systematically annihilated anyone associated with the Phnom Penh government along with an entire class of educated people. Millions were murdered. In Laos, the Pathet Lao, under the control of the North Vietnamese, imprisoned and murdered the Lao royal family along with hundreds of officials of the Vientiane government. The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao conducted a genocidal campaign against the Hmong, a tribal people who, with U.S. support, fought valiantly for their homes in the mountains surrounding the Plain of Jars.

In early 1975, as the communists initiated their final offensives in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the American left remained riveted on the supposed ravages of war wreaked on Indochina by U.S. military forces. A continuous cacophony bellowed about “secret bombings” and lamented an “eco-disaster” issuing from a supposed “bathing of South Vietnam” in Agent Orange. In the aftermath, the left’s silence over the murderous aftermath undertaken by the communist Vietnamese and their cohorts in Cambodia and Laos was pervasive.

The lessons for today are clear. First, any precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be costly even if it were possible, which it isn’t. Second, the sectarian violence that follows, being religiously and ethnically-driven, will be far bloodier than what happened in South Vietnam, more resembling the ethnic and class-cleansing carried out by the Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao. Third, in Indochina there was no regional power ready or able to fill the void left by America—China tried in 1979 and the Vietnamese army trounced its invasion forces. Iran, by contrast, is anxious to dominate Iraq, seize its oil, and then exercise hegemony over the Persian Gulf region.

Iran ultimately plans to establish a global Islamist caliphate. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Shi’ite mullahs in Teheran know the United States and Israel present major obstacles to realizing that vision. Make no mistake: Iran is at war with the Judeo-Christian West. If we lose this war, we lose Western civilization.

Today's left is again silent on the threats we now face - or the radicals simply dismiss such warnings as more "neocon" lies. Thank goodness we have scholars like Tilford focusing attention on the clear dangers in world politics today.