Barack Obama and the Democrats spent years defaming the national security policy of the United States during a time of war. This opposition transcends criticism of policy or attacks on President Bush. Senator Reid, while our troops were in the field, pronounced the Iraq War lost. Other Democrat senators equating the conduct of our soldiers with Nazis or with rogue forces that bombed villages. The Democratic Party feted such surreal conspiracy freaks as Michael Moore and appointed anti-American Marxists like Van Jones to important federal offices. "Bush lied, People died" bumper stickers popped up like ugly pimples on the back of countless vehicles in America. Our current Secretary of State essentially called General Petraeus a liar, without the slightest evidence.
Now, as Jeremiah Wright put it, "the chickens have come home to roost." The Democrats, indeed, those Democrats most vociferously hostile to our military forces and their commanders, now run Washington. They control not only the Executive Branch but also have comfortable, filibuster-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. President Obama and his party also have complete responsibility for what happens in our war on global terrorism.
Iraq, despite the protestations of Democrats in the years in which Bush was president, was in pretty good shape when Obama took office. The policies of President Bush, ultimately, prevailed. There are many things he might have done differently in Iraq and in other parts of the Middle East (overthrowing the terrorist sponsor, Syria, at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom comes to mind; giving all support short of direct military intervention to the Iranian freedom movement also would have been smart.) The salient fact, though, is this: under Bush, America was never attacked by terrorists and under Bush we did end the regime of a monstrous, anti-American thug in Baghdad. We also held Afghanistan and routed al-Qaeda there. The strategic strategy of Bush was similar to the strategic strategy of Reagan in the Cold War: we win, they lose.
Large numbers of Obama supporters, however, do not think that America should win the strategic war on terrorism. They blame the CIA more than al-Qaeda for the dangers in the world today. They view anti-American tyrants in Venezuela and Iran as democratically elected leaders, rather than the American people, as the heroes on the world stage. As Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a Democrat herself, said at the 1980 Republican Convention "They always blame America first." Nothing, really, has changed. Carter, toward the end of his presidency, seems to have "discovered" that Soviet Communism was aggressive, amoral, and armed. Teddy Kennedy, so recently eulogized for having done, really, nothing, visited with the Kremlin behind the back of President Reagan to try to weaken Reagan politically. LBJ learned the hard way just how hostile to American success many of his fellow Democrats could be.
During the Vietnam War, there were several thoughtful options. Was it in our strategic interest to stop Communism in Vietnam? Maybe so and maybe not. France was a SEATO member and the former colonial ruler of Indochina. Why was it not the duty of France to keep South Vietnam free? Britain was another SEATO member, yet our ally ignored its treaty obligations and even traded with North Vietnam. There was a reasonable argument that America should have stayed away from Vietnam and preserved our military strength and national will for threats which addressed us more directly.
Barry Goldwater advocated fighting the war, but using our overwhelming superiority in the air and at sea to directly attack North Vietnam. Our Iowa class battleships could hit almost any target in North Vietnam with very accurate sixteen inch naval gun shells at no risk of American lives (and we had four such battleships.) Mining Haiphong Harbor, through which the majority of North Vietnamese supplies came, could have been done without any risk of American lives. The suppression of air defenses by naval guns could have given our air forces the ability to disrupt or destroy almost everything of military or economic value in North Vietnam.
Instead, Lyndon Johnson valued international opinion, the support of fellow Democrats, and the fear of Soviet power more than he did the lives of the hundreds of thousands of conscripted ground troops that he sent into South Vietnam to try to win a guerrilla war in difficult terrain. Even worse, he crippled the operational actions of our ground troops by requiring White House clearance for artillery strikes and placing certain sanctuaries off limits. We bled because of his craven incompetence. We lost a war which we either should not have fought or should have fought and won.
It looks like Lyndon Baines Obama is about to repeat the mistakes of his Democrat predecessor. If our goal is to win in Afghanistan, then we should win. Obama should whip Democrats into support or silence. He should reach across the aisle to Republicans. He ought to apologize, even if indirectly, for demonizing President Bush and his war on terror. Obama shows no inclination to do either of those things.
If he is going to keep American troops in Afghanistan, those brave men and women deserve a commander-in-chief who is willing himself to make sacrifices for them. He should do what the military leaders in the region feel is necessary. He should explain to the American people our mission and our goals. He should speak of Afghanistan as part of "our common and united war on global terrorism." He should publicly insist our NATO allies to keep their forces, whether military or noncombatant in Afghanistan for practical and psychological reasons.
He won't. Obama will not withdraw from Afghanistan, but he will not really try to win. Like four decades ago, Americans serving their nation will be led by a leader who will not lead. Like forty decades ago, our brave countrymen will be killed and maimed for no purpose greater than the political cynicism of a corrupt politician. Obama will have his Vietistan and those who risk their lives for us will pay the price.
Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.