Thursday, August 17, 2006

Opportunities Lost

The last two years of George W. Bush's tenure as President of these re-United States are shaping up to be bad ones for the home team, and the fault for it is entirely his. Frankly, as much as I like the man he is, I can't help but think that he has squandered the opportunity given us five years ago. Instead of acting boldly on his vision of the world at war with terrorists and their sponsors (World War III, IV, or V depending on which historian you listen to), he fell into the same trap that Johnson and Nixon did in the 60's with Vietnam.

For the better part of a decade we tried to gingerly shape the battlefield in the war with totalitarian socialism by fighting the Vietnam War with one arm (and one leg) tied behind our back. We never took the political, economic, and military actions necessary to decisively defeat the Viet Cong insurgency early in the war and the North Vietnamese Army upon their entry in the latter stages of the war. By the time we started to really get serious about isolating the North Vietnamese from their sources of supply (China and the Soviet Union)--we mined Haiphong harbor to prevent supply ships from getting in--and punishing the North Vietnamese with heavy strategic bombardment of their homeland, the American public had grown weary of a war in which our heavy involvement by that point had lasted 7 or 8 years, and cost over 50,000 American lives. Had we gotten serious in 1967 instead of 1972, we might very well have achieved our objective of a free and democratic (not perfect, by any means) South Vietnam, at probably half the eventual cost of American lives and treasure. We didn't get serious because we were 1) afraid of going nuclear with China and the Soviet Union, and 2) we didn't want to jeopardize the explosive growth in the standard of living in the US. But, China and the Soviet Union would not have pulled the nuclear or even conventional triggers against us, because our nuclear deterrent was too great; and the eventual total cost of the longer war was more than we would have spent if we had gotten serious early on.

The same pattern has developed since 19 fanatical muslims got our attention on 9/11. Instead of leading the great campaign of Roosevelt to utterly destroy fascism, Bush has led the timid campaign of Johnson to have "both guns and butter." Roosevelt was triumphant because we fought against Germany and Japan with unmerciful attacks of both their fielded forces and their homelands. The deaths of a few thousand in today's wrestling matches in the Middle East pale in comparison with hundreds of thousands each killed in one night of fire bombing Dresden and Tokyo. Horrible, gruesome work. But, we speak English in freedom today.

Bush was given the opportunity for greatness, squandered it, and will now be impeached by the democrat party when they win back the house and senate this fall.
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