CLELAND ON IRAQ
Max Cleland compares the Iraq War with the one he fought in Vietnam, where he lost an arm and both legs in combat. He lists several similarities and winds up with,
Instead of learning the lessons of Vietnam, where all of the above happened, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and the deputy secretary of defense have gotten this country into a disaster in the desert.
The president has declared “major combat over” and sent a message to every terrorist, “Bring them on.” As a result, he has lost more people in his war than his father did in his and there is no end in sight.
Military commanders are left with extended tours of duty for servicemen and women who were told long ago they were going home. We are keeping American forces on the ground, where they have become sitting ducks in a shooting gallery for every terrorist in the Middle East.
Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn’t go when you had the chance.
The price Cleland paid for his service earns him the right to be heard. It does not, however, make him right. Some of Cleland’s criticisms are perfectly valid, but they are wasted in such an over-the-top piece. For example, the idea that one’s intelligence can ever be “bullet proof” is so unrealistic as to be baffling, coming as it does from a man who clearly knows better.
The assertion that a war in which we’ve lost a grand total of 297 soldiers is comparable to one in which we lost nearly 59,000 is idiotic. In Vietnam, American forces were inserted into the midst of a civil war on the side of an unpopular regime (or, technically, a succession of them) against a charismatic, populist leader. In Iraq, American forces quickly deposed a brutal regime and is a few months into the process of turning the country over to a democratically-chosen native government. The two wars could hardly be more dissimilar.
(Hat tip: Kristopher Vilamaa)