President Bush, yesterday: "Now, many critics compare the battle in Iraq to the situation we faced in Vietnam. There are many differences between those two conflicts, but one stands out above all: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does.â
There are so many problems and distortions with this statement that it is difficult to know where to start. But here's one place. Can we review the main arguments for why we were in Vietnam? Or at least try to distinguish them from the ones for getting out?
President Bush appears to be embracing the argument that the Vietnam War was a fight against Vietnamese nationalists who wanted to kick us out of Vietnam but had no interest in us one way or another beyond that. Certainly they weren't going to launch attacks against the US mainland. But that was the Doves' argument. The premise of the war was that it was a battleground in the larger Cold War struggle, one against the Soviets (who certainly had the ability and arguably had the intent to attack us), the Chinese (though that's much more complicated) and international communism generally.
In any case, the arguments for staying in Vietnam and staying in Iraq are actually quite similar -- and the arguments for leaving actually have a degree of parallelism too.
Of course, if we're worried about armed jihadism, which we certainly should be, it's really difficult to think of a better way to exacerbate the problem than to permanently occupy a country at the literal and figurative heart of the Muslim and Arab worlds.