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"Winning the Peace"

I think it is high time that we took a minute to consider how history will remember the present administration and how it treated the men and women who it sent to fight and die overseas. Many people have publicized the Bush administration’s callous assaults on veterans’ benefits and pay–and it’s very important to keep that in mind. But what about the simple fact that the Bush administration has simply left hundreds of thousands of soldiers to die, one by one in terror attacks, so that he could unleash an illegal, pointless war, and a disastrous, hated occupation?

Conventional wisdom is finally starting to come around; even mainstream media and Democratic Presidential hopefuls are now daring to utter mild criticisms of the senseless bloodbath into which King George has led us. But they still don’t quite get it. The standard story that keeps being repeated from the liberal side is now: O.K., so the war was wrong and we never should have blundered into Iraq. But now that we’re there, we have to stick it out and continue the occupation until some unspecified date in the future, when we’re satisfied with how Iraq looks and can finally cut out.

John Kerry, for example, has this to say:

(from Iraq – Winning the Peace on the John Kerry Campaign Website)

We can and should protect our troops and we can and should meet our obligations in Iraq. But America can and must do better.

. . .

John Kerry’s plan will show that we understand real partnership by reaching out to our allies, rebuilding international good will, and asking the UN to do what it has done well from Kosovo to East Timor by putting Iraqi governance and reconstruction under UN authority. It’s not necessary for the U.S. to go it alone on rebuilding Iraq’s institutions and meeting humanitarian needs – and we shouldn’t have to.

And so on, and so forth. The idea is that Iraqis are basically imbeciles who cannot be trusted to establish a prosperous and free society unless the United States miliary and U.N. forces (of all people!) hang around to lecture them about how to do it. The idea is also that we have to leave our soldiers to die and leave the Iraqis under the jackboots of military occupation until we can claim that we’ve managed to win the peace. That way, we won’t ever have to admit that we made a mistake, and that it cost the lives and freedom of many, many innocent Iraqis, as well as the senseless death of hundreds (perhaps thousands, by the time this is over) of U.S. troops.

It’s a bunch of damned rubbish, of course, it’s a bunch of damned rubbish that we ought to have the wisdom and the historical memory by now to recognize. Here’s how the view was skewered by–well–John Kerry, when he was younger and wiser:

(from Modern History Sourcebook: Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry, 1971)

Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.

Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, the first President to lose a war.

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Happy Veteran’s Day.

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