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May 23, 2004

Is Iraq about to become another Vietnam?

... not on the ground in Iraq, of course, but in the hearts and minds of the American people?

  Mort Kondracke appears to think that this is a very real danger:

Some Members of Congress - either out of a passion to defeat President Bush, pique at not being listened to by the Bush Administration, or simply a need to hear their own voices - are declaring the war "unwinnable" or "a quagmire," or are demanding an "exit strategy."

Both the media and Congress are obsessed with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. It is awful, but both institutions are treating it as if it were the most important occurrence of the war.

The decapitation of Nicholas Berg - which, it merits reminding, required several cuts of the knife to stop his screaming - was a front-page story for just one day. Only one newspaper that I know of, the Dallas Morning News, plus the Weekly Standard magazine, made the point that Berg's murder is "why we fight."

By now, Abu Ghraib has been a lead story for weeks. And Congress has gone so far as to pull top U.S. commanders back from the battle zone to grill them about it - just as America's enemies are launching what they hope will be the Iraqi equivalent of the 1968 Tet offensive, hoping to undermine the June 30 handover of power to Iraqis.

In 1968 - by no accident, a U.S. presidential election year - the Viet Cong launched a massive countrywide offensive in South Vietnam, invading the U.S. Embassy complex in the process.

By every military measure, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces devastated the Communist forces. (It's all recorded in the late Peter Braestrup's masterful book "Big Story.") Yet the U.S. media reported the episode as a U.S. defeat, helping convince the American establishment that the war was unwinnable.

I made similar arguments over the last month or so here and here.   (Hat tip to Instapundit.)

May 23, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink

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