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Don't Quit as We Did in Vietnam

From the November 9, 2003 Los Angeles Times: Yes, we are haunted by Vietnam, and God forbid we should ever again betray our friends to tyrant murderers.

11:00 PM, Nov 10, 2003 • By DAVID GELERNTER
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Some Bush critics tell us that "Iraqification" is bound to be a failure and a "losing strategy," like "Vietnamization." They are wrong on the facts. Vietnamization was a winning strategy. Several years ago, political commentator Fred Barnes reviewed, in an article for The Weekly Standard, the findings of two books on Vietnam that challenged the conventional wisdom on the war. Barnes wrote, in summary: "What really worked was Vietnamization, the reliance on Saigon's forces as American troops were gradually brought home." He quoted Lewis Sorley, one of the authors: "There came a time when the war was won. The fighting wasn't over, but the war was won. This achievement can probably best be dated in late 1970, after the Cambodia incursion."

But then we got fed up and pulled the plug. We left the bill on the table and walked out, and our allies paid in blood. Yes, we are haunted by Vietnam, and God forbid we should ever again betray our friends to tyrant murderers. Or ever again walk out on a nation whose people are struggling merely to live and be let alone. Or ever again inform the natives prissily over our shoulders on our way out: Look, it's your choice; if you choose to be governed by blood-sucking murderers, it's none of our business.

Yes, America is haunted by Vietnam. It always will be.

David Gelernter is a professor of computer science at Yale University and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.