Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Vietnam/Iraq Syndrome, or, David Brooks, R.I.P.

Today is Saturday, 3 February 2007.

In his New York Times Op-Ed column of 1 February (“The Iraq Syndrome, R.I.P.”), David Brooks (who refused military service but just knew the Iraq conquest would be a cakewalk to utopia) wrote: “After Vietnam, Americans turned inward. Having lost faith in their leadership class, many Americans grew suspicious of power politics and hesitant about projecting American might around the world. The Vietnam syndrome was real. It lasted all of five years --- the time between the fall of Saigon and the election of Ronald Reagan”.

What a crock.

Those “many Americans” didn’t prevent Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter from supporting vicious dictatorships like the Shah’s Iran and Pinochet’s Chile. Didn’t prevent Carter from funding the war of the Somocista gangsters (who would later become notorious when re-branded as contras) to destroy the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, primarily by terrorizing civilians and demolishing infrastructure. Didn’t prevent Carter from launching the greatest “peacetime” buildup of military might in American history (for which Reagan later duplicitously hijacked credit).

Need I go on?

Those who “suffered” from “Vietnam Syndrome” weren’t classic Republican isolationists, i.e., those who believed in an America living in splendid and morally-pure autarkic isolation from the Wicked Old Powers of Europe.

Those who drew the correct lesson from Vietnam were those who awakened to opposing American global hegemony as harmful to humanity and to America. The myth of the “Vietnam Syndrome” is simply a re-working of the Nazi myth that the German Army in World War One was defeated, not on the battlefield, but by the “stab-in-the-back” of Jews behind the lines in Germany.

Brooks is correct when he says, “Finally, there has been no change in America’s essential nature. As Robert Kagan writes in his masterful book Dangerous Nation, America has never really been an isolationist nation. The United States has always exercised as much power as it could.” Indeed: ask Native Americans, ask African slaves, etc.

The sentence immediately following, however, plops firmly back into the crock: “It has always [sic] coupled that power with efforts to spread freedom”. As when the USA/USE supported the brutal and squalid dictatorship of Mobutu in Congo, etc.?

Brooks does get it right in his final paragraph: “In short, the U.S. has taken its share of blows over the past few years, but the isolationist dog is not barking. The hegemon will change. The hegemon will do more negotiating. But the hegemon will live”.

True: most Americans still want to deploy American power to drain as much as possible of the treasure of the rest of the world into their own greedy pockets.

At least, so long as others do the fighting and dying.


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