The Iraq-Vietnam connection

Published 2:03 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2005

By By Tray Smith
Last Sunday, Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said that the longer we stay in Iraq, the more the operation there looks like Vietnam. He is only the latest of several politicians to compare Iraq to Vietnam, and I could not agree more. Here's why.
In Vietnam, our men and women in uniform did a superb job. We never lost one battle. When we withdrew, we were winning the war and fighting the Communists out of South Vietnam. So how did we end up loosing the war? It wasn't because our military was loosing on the battlefield. It was because politicians in Washington began to speak out against the war and started trying to set military policies from Capitol Hill. Our military did not loose the Vietnam War; our politicians lost the Vietnam War. As a result, today the people of what was South Vietnam continue to live under a brutal Communist regime that has now outlived the Soviet Union itself, and thousands upon thousands of our troops lost their lives for no purpose.
So, today in Iraq, while our military is doing an excellent job and the Iraqis are laying the foundations for a new, democratic government, our politicians are once more calling for a withdrawal date, an exit strategy, and saying that the war effort looks like Vietnam! So if we loose the conflict in Iraq and pull out before the job is finished, it won't be because we cannot win, it again will be because our politicians won't let us win.
I agree that it cannot be denied that the situation in Iraq is bad and getting worse. Even though the Iraqis this week submitted a new constitution establishing a democratic government there, the violence and terror continues to escalate in that country. More and more Americans are getting killed. I agree that the President needs a new strategy and he needs to report the situation accurately to the American people. But in the end, we must realize that the Iraq War is a WAR, and war is hell. We cannot expect to be able to defend the American people if we are not willing to stand firm in our resolve and stand up to the terrorist. We must stay the course and complete the mission.
It is also important to point out that in Iraq and Afghanistan combined we have yet to loose as many lives as we did on September 11, 2001. However, each day thousands of Americas continue to go to work at the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower, and the Capitol, and no one is urging them to withdraw. Whether we like it or not, our citizens are on the front lines in this war just as much as our military officers, and we don't have the advantage of being able to run and hide in our cave every time they come after us. We have to either fight them abroad or fight them here at home.
I cannot tell you what we need to do to win in Iraq, I'm not in the military and I've never been to that country. We will have to let our military commander's decide just like we did in World War I, World War II, the Civil War, and the American Revolution. But I can tell you what we don't need is our politicians setting withdrawal dates and making exit strategies from their air conditioned offices in Washington. We have already let them loose one war, and please America, don't let them do it again. That's the bottom line.
I can proudly report to you that Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby along with Congressman Jo Bonner have stood firm in supporting the war effort, and they have not tried to draw up battle plans on Capitol Hill. We owe them thanks for standing firm in defending our freedom.
Update: If you read last weeks column, you know I suggested that Republicans agree to Democratic proposals that raise fuel efficiency standards on all automobiles, including SUV's. Then on Tuesday, the Bush administration put forth a plan to do just that.
Tray Smith is a freshman at Escambia Academy. He can be reached at tsmith_90@ His column appears weekly.

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