The Media's Vietnamization of Iraq
by Stephen Schwartz
It has been quite a month in the Middle East, highlighted by the resolution of the Zarqawi problem. But despite our successes, the American people have to examine and understand how our mainstream media (MSM) treat the region. I do not write as a blogger, bystander, or instant expert of the kind so commonly found today. I spent 10 years as a front-line reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, and was elected secretary of the Northern California newspaper union, notwithstanding my Reaganite politics. I know the very worst of the MSM the way Jonah knew the whale: from inside.
The "secret" of MSM mendacity is simple: the media has a Vietnam syndrome, different from the broader, political "Vietnam syndrome" – i.e., fear of U.S. intervention abroad. The MSM's management, top editors, and reporters are nearly all members or products of the Vietnam generation, as am I. But unlike those of us leftists who grew up, the majority of the MSM are obsessed with one aim: to turn every foreign conflict in which America has an interest into Vietnam. Vietnam is their security blankie, their pacifist pacifier that lets the colicky infants they are (even as they turn 60) sleep at night.
Let us review what happened in Vietnam:
First, the U.S. faced an enemy with a significant martial tradition and an unfortunate but deep-rooted association between nationalism and Communism.
Second, the Vietnamese enemy enjoyed unlimited support from China and Russia at varying stages of the war.
Third, the U.S. military was based on a draft. Fourth, immense Soviet political and financial resources were expended throughout the world, after the Russians replaced the Chinese as the main backer of Hanoi, with the goal of portraying the U.S. as an imperialist monster.
If any of the four points were linked, they were three and four. The unpopular draft and other social ructions of the 1960s intersected with the Soviet propaganda effort to produce massive defeatism among Americans.
Let us now compare Vietnam and Iraq:
First, unlike the Vietnamese, Iraqis do not have a legacy of combat, except among Kurds.
Second, unlike Vietnam, Iraq does not possess a unifying national identity. Iraq is an artificial country carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the British. It is made up of two major language communities (Arabs and Kurds) and two distinct Islamic traditions (Shias and Sunnis) as well as Christian and other minorities. The divisions between Buddhists, Christians, and the various home-grown sects and minorities in Indochina were not comparable to the present fractiousness in Iraq. Rivalries in Vietnam could be exploited but kept under control. The attempt of the Wahhabis to wage war against Shias, Sufis, and other Muslims in Iraq is deadly serious and tends to escape control, although it can and will be defeated.
But the main point of contrast with Vietnam, and the issue of greatest importance to the U.S.-led coalition, is this: Shias and Sunnis will never unite against the U.S., notwithstanding any comments recorded on the streets of Baghdad by MSM hacks or bogus analysis peddled in the West by phony experts. It simply will not happen. Arab Shias have gained control of their holy sites, Karbala and Najaf, for the first time in the entire history of their sect, thanks to George W. Bush. No amount of disinformational propaganda will change that fact.
Third, the U.S. no longer has a draft. As a religious believer I wish I could sympathize with the screeching preacher of demoralization, Cindy Sheehan, but I cannot. Her son volunteered for the armed forces. If he did not understand the risks of battle, that is her fault for not so educating him. President Bush is not required by our Constitution to submit war decisions to a referendum and is certainly not called on to defer to the leftist lunacies of a Berkeley loudmouth.
Fourth, while the terrorists in Iraq are supported by a faction in Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabis around the world, they enjoy neither the resources nor the intellectual capacity the Soviet Communists had during Vietnam. The Islamist campaign to undermine American support for the democratization of Iraq has shown poor results compared to the movement against Vietnam. The radical left is no longer much of a factor in this.
Despite the differences, every MSM zombie and political demagogue in the country wants to make Iraq into Vietnam. They seem to think that 1968 will last forever and that America will never match up to or fulfill its responsibilities as a global hegemonic power for democracy. They are wrong.
Zarqawi is dead. No death of a leading North Vietnamese or Viet Cong figure had so much potential for negative impact on enemy morale.
Al-Qaida in Iraq is a ragtag bunch of irregulars. It is not the North Vietnamese Army.
Iraqis may want foreigners to leave their country but first they want the foreign jihadists to leave, because they do not want to live under a Taliban-style or Saudi-Wahhabi regime. That was revealed after the battle of Fallujah: the Iraqis were glad to see the end of jihadist domination and thrilled to see U.S. troops drive Zarqawi's thugs away.
And like Laura Bush and so many others, I believe that Americans want to stay the course in Iraq.
Nevertheless, the MSM will continue their quest to turn Iraq into Vietnam. They will ignore major stories, distort others, and cap them with meretricious headlines. They will search for parallels to My Lai. They will try to make Abu Ghraib more significant than 9/11. They and their satellites among the fake experts will claim that the death of Zarqawi could make the terror campaign stronger, under the leadership of a substitute. Really? Did Hitler's death lead to a renewed Nazi offensive? Did Stalin's death revive Communism? Only people who don't think could accept the idiocies peddled by the MSM and its phony authorities.
Some observers call democracy in the Middle East a mirage. But even if it were, and it is not, it is a more honorable conception than the illusion of "two, three, many Vietnams" (in the words of Che Guevara) in the Middle East, peddled by the MSM and the political dimwitocracy.