I saw the title: How Vietnam Really Ended. It was in the left-leaning publication, Slate, and while I thought I knew how that war ended, having been actively caught up in it, I wanted to get it just right, so where better to learn about the missing pieces than from the world's last rational liberal?
Now I know what you're saying, "Ted, how do you know this fellow is the last rational liberal?"
In fact, I don't. All I know now is that if there is one out there, it's not (and I'm not making this name up) Gideon Rose, the one who placed a lot of words below the above mentioned title.
First, here's what I know: Vietnam escalated because of an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin which never actually occurred, and whether Johnson lied to us or simply didn't want to acknowledge the facts because he was anxious for an excuse to involve usfurther, he committed five hundred thousand or so individuals to fight a war he, and subsequently Richard Nixon, had no stomach for winning.
As a result, and because at the time young men could be simply ordered to subject themselves to horrific conditions and random death, fifty-eight thousand of us died for nothing.
None of that is true about Iraq, but I only mention it because Rose's real purpose was not to tie up loose ends and unsettled questions about Vietnam, it was to argue that George Bush is even worse than Johnson or Nixon – which is, at minimum, mathematically impossible.
But before that, Mr. Rose says that Vietnam ended with a whimper because the American people got tired of it, and the (Democratic) Congress cut off funds, which is true – if you consider that to be the end of the Vietnam war.
The trouble is, it wasn't for the Vietnamese or for a whole lot of (future dead) people in Southeast Asia. just as our pullout from Iraq (which Rose doesn't care to get into) will only be the beginning of a "struggle" (what it becomes after we leave) between sectarian factions (average Iraqis, Christian Iraqis, peaceful Kurds, and other groups too small for liberal radar be damned).
The wind-down of Vietnam for us thus meant turning our backs on friends and innocents, and liberals have shown no qualms about doing that again – and this time it's even despite the fact that many of those whom we're fighting will look to fight us elsewhere, continue to advance their ideology, and seek to expand their control of territory – to the entire world.
And so it is that a liberal has to draw his argument to an artificial and premature conclusion because to continue would mean getting into indefensible territory and awkward moral positions, not that they know the meaning of that word.