The pro-surge, pro-war Iraq hawks (of whom there are fewer and fewer these days) seem not to be able to make their arguments without relying on the same sort of disinformation and outright dishonesty that took us to war there in the first place.
Sen. John McCain said on Meet the Press this morning, arguing in favor of the surge in Iraq and essentially supporting President Bush's "stay the course" strategy, that his analysis of military history didn't show him any cases in which withdrawing troops led to a positive result (and I'm paraphrasing here because I don't remember his exact words). He was debating Sen. John Kerry (both men are Vietnam veterans and former naval officers), who pointed out that, since the real goals are political and not military, we should be able to withdraw a substantial number of troops from Iraq, and that such a withdrawal will apply leverage to the Maliki "government," forcing them to actually decide how Iraq will be governed. With an unlimited, open-ended commitment to keeping the troops in place, there's no pressure on the Iraqis to change anything or make the necessary moves.
McCain is, of course, forgetting about his own war, Vietnam.
Yes, after we withdrew our forces from Vietnam, there was a long bloody period. But there had been a long bloody period there from the 1950s on. Our presence there ensured only that some of the blood spilled was American blood. After we left, Vietnam became a Socialist state, as it remains today, but it did not become a falling domino, tipping the whole region into Chinese rule. Now, as a Socialist state, it is implementing economic reforms and has become a trading partner to the U.S. and a relatively stable nation. Are the Vietnamese people in general better off now than they were when war ravaged their country, every adult was conscripted to fight for one side or the other, and bombs rained down on the landscape? It took time, but the answer is undeniably yes.
Bush mentioned Vietnam recently, saying that those who advocated leaving Iraq had forgotten the lesson of Vietnam. Never mind the unbelievable hypocrisy of someone who took the extreme measures of utilizing family connections to get himself a safe perch in the Air National Guard protecting Texas and Alabama from the Communist advance, and then failing even to fulfill that obligation, presuming to preach to the nation about the lessons of Vietnam. By his logic, the lesson of Vietnam is that we shouldn't have left. Would the nation have stood for the U.S. still having the same number of troops there now that we had in 1972? Would the world be a safer place in any way? Bush completely fails to understand what lessons Vietnam has to teach--primarily that it's nearly impossible (if not absolutely impossible) to militarily win a guerrilla war against an enemy that has the support of the populace, and that it's a bad idea to get in the middle of another country's civil war.
Bush and McCain both talk about the "chaos" that will descend upon Iraq if we leave. The fact is that 4 1/2 years of war have already thrown that country into chaos. 4 million people, out of a population of 25 million, have fled their homes. 2 million have left the country, destabilizing the neighbors who have been swamped with refugees. Our presence there has brought an al Qaeda element to the country that wasn't there before, and that the Iraqis seem determined to reject--but who they'll be able to reject much more easily and forcefully when we aren't there as a recruiting tool. Iran has made inroads into Iraq, its ancient enemy, because of our involvement there. Everything Bush and McCain predict will happen if we leave has happened because we invaded and stayed.
The consensus now seems to be that we'll have to keep some troops there indefinitely, as we have in Europe, South Korea, Japan and elsewhere. Ideally not in combat situations, but to "safeguard our interests," make a diplomatic presence secure, continue the training of Iraqi forces, and so on. So Bush lied us into a war that has become one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in American history, and now we're stuck there, with a commitment that will continue long after his presidency is over. What a legacy.
I wonder if the war hawks of the future will accurately remember the lessons of Iraq.