George Santayana is credited with the following quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is just as true today as it was when he first wrote it.

Liberals are comparing Iraq to Vietnam, and they are right, but not for the reasons they seem to think. What do we hear? We’re stuck in a “quagmire.” We can’t “win.” The war is already “lost.” And every night the news reports every death. The media is stuck in the same rut reporting on Iraq as though it were Vietnam. But it’s not a big deal, right? After all, Iraq is just like Vietnam; even President Bush talks like it is:

President Bush said in a one-on-one interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that a newspaper column comparing the current fighting in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which was widely seen as the turning point in that war, might be accurate.

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

“He could be right,” the president said, before adding, “There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election.”

So what are the memes from this? Iraq = Vietnam, and fighting in Iraq = Tet offensive. For the people who are don’t remember the Tet offensive, it was a military victory for the U.S., but it was widely reported and subsequently viewed as a major failure. Let me repeat — the failure didn’t happen in Vietnam; it was created by our press. Walter Cronkite reported that the fighting in Vietnam was unwinnable right in the middle of the Tet offensive, and this depressed President Johnson enough that he chose not to run in the 1968 presidential election. He reportedly said, “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” We didn’t lose the Tet offensive, but it was reported as a failure.

And the North Vietnamese were closely watching the news. A former officer in the North Vietnamese army, Bui Tin, discussed the American media’s effect on the war in an interview by Stephen Young reported in the Wall Street Journal on August 3, 1995:

Stephen Young: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?
Bui Tin: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said, “We don’t need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out.”

Stephen Young: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi’s victory?
Bui Tin: It was essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Stephen Young: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?
Bui Tin: Keenly.

Stephen Young: Why?
Bui Tin: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win. [emphasis mine -- CM]

The murderous thugs in Iraq want the U.S. out of Iraq, giving them a free hand to rule and terrorize that country as they see fit. Democrats want the U.S. out of Iraq, and that will give the murderous thugs a free hand to rule Iraq with terror. Liberals scream when we question their patriotism, but why is it their desires so closely match the desires of the people who are actively fighting our military? The Democrats are the party of defeat. If Iraq becomes a peaceful country, only the Democrats lose. If we pull out of Iraq as we did Vietnam, the Iraqis will lose, our military will lose, and Democrats will win. Well, they will have won only until the emboldened killers in Iraq and around the world laugh at the American paper tiger, and they choose to bring fighting and terror to American shores.

Liberals are comparing Iraq to Vietnam, and they are right because their reporting and negativity are the same. And their constant negative reporting is bolstering the morale of the people who kill Iraqis and Americans. But there is another area of similarity: our decision to run from Vietnam led to millions of deaths, and the decision to run from Iraq will certainly lead to the same. But since liberals do not learn from history, it’s no wonder that they seek to repeat their past failures.

A while back I saw the following Pat Oliphant cartoon in a Newsweek magazine while I was waiting for a flat tire to be fixed. The political cartoon in question was printed December 11th, 2006.

Oliphant Cartoon

And now my gripes with this cartoon. Oliphant shows the two soldiers as being pretty ignorant about past military history. The military spends much time reviewing past wars and campaigns. A brand-new recruit might be ignorant of military history, but that reflects more on our public education system than it does military training. Ask the next Marine you meet to name the circumstances around the first deployment of the Marines overseas, and you’ll get an earful about the Barbary Wars. The common liberal belief that our military is filled with morons is far from the truth.

I am also annoyed by Oliphant’s take on the Vietnam War. Oliphant has one of the soldiers say we lost Vietnam disastrously, and the other says we should have just “declared victory and gone home.” This is a dig at President Bush standing on the USS Abraham Lincoln and telling the sailors, “Mission accomplished!” The U.S. didn’t lose the Vietnam War from a military standpoint, nor did it lose because of Presidential ego, as Oliphant states. Instead, Vietnam was lost “disastrously” when Congress chose to yank the funding out from under the troops. Guess what Congress intends to do now to the soldiers in Iraq. Talk about being doomed to repeat history.

And since we’re on the subject of not learning from history, the Vietnam-era military was hamstrung by Congress and by timid commanders who wouldn’t allow the military to do what it does best: kill people and break things. My father served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot during Vietnam. He has told me about some of the rules of engagement in that war that hampered the pilots from performing to their fullest. They were not allowed to blow up any enemy planes on the ground; the planes needed to be in the air first before our pilots could shoot them down. In a misguided attempt to lessen civilian casualties, an intended target area would be notified by leaflet drops about an upcoming American mission. This gave the North Vietnamese plenty of warning, so they could bring in anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missile launchers to mangle and destroy American pilots.

But historical realities don’t really matter to cartoonists like Oliphant. Any idea, however misguided, is a good excuse to denigrate President Bush.

Thanks to a link on Coyote Blog, I found the Maps of War site. Below are my two favorite maps. The first shows the rise of different empires in the Old World.

Imperial History

This next map shows the rise of the five best known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.

History of Religion

Be sure to check out the other maps at Maps of War.

Sometimes I have to wonder why I actually listen to Air America Radio while driving in the car. Based on what I hear, I can see just why they have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the typically lousy job they collectively do in talk radio. As I drove home yesterday, I heard a little blurb by Randi Rhodes about President Clinton.

Rhodes started off by claiming that there were plenty of issues where she disagreed with President Clinton, but I honestly wouldn’t know. I have a very low tolerance for the Randi Rhodes show. But here’s what she said that really made me shake my head: she said that, whether you like President Clinton or not, you have to admit that while he was President he kept America safe, standing like a bulwark at the shore.

Gag.

Reality check for Ms. Rhodes — radical Islamofascists have been at war with the United States for a long time, and that includes during President Clinton’s watch. Her less-than-artful invention of history doesn’t really stand up to the events that really occurred during President Clinton’s time in the White House. Here’s a short list to refresh your memory:

In retaliation to some of these attacks, President Clinton knocked down some tents and blew up an aspirin factory. You can tell how effective his limp-wristed response was in diverting future attacks. And if you want to suggest President Clinton was more effective than President Bush in keeping terrorists off American shores, first remember the World Trade Center bombings of 1993.

I find it interesting that Ms. Rhodes spent some time pumping up President Clinton’s flaccid legacy during the same week Lynne Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison for her part in smuggling messages from Omar Abdel-Rahman to his terrorist followers. Rahman is the same guy who helped plan the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

But if you listen only to talk show hosts on the financially and factually bankrupt Air America Radio, you might possibly accept Randi Rhodes’ invention of history.

I don’t know who Edmund Andrews is, other than that he works at The New York Times and wrote an article titled “Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit.”

An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year’s levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago. The rising tide in tax payments has been building for months, but the increased scale is surprising even seasoned budget analysts and making it easier for both the administration and Congress to finesse the big run-up in spending over the past year.

It’s “unexpected” that more tax revenues are coming in from corporations and the wealthy, Andrews writes. I don’t know why this would come as such a surprise to him. Every time tax rates have been lowered, the government has pulled in more money. I have to guess that Andrews is a Democrat, because as a party Democrats have always been astonished when tax rate cuts have increased government revenues. They have never learned this lesson from history.

Next time you hear a liberal say that President Bush’s tax rate cuts were just for the wealthy, you will know that you are in the presence of someone who puts more store in his or her political theories than in historical reality.

There is an interesting article posted on The Independent about “How Islamic inventors changed the world,” listing the top 20 inventions as compiled by Paul Vallely. I cannot argue that our civilization has been influenced by the Muslim world, but as you read the article, see if you can notice anything from the last 200 years.

I do have an issue with #11 on the list. The windmill is credited as being invented by a Persian caliph in 634 AD. I don’t think Persia (modern Iran) had been conquered by the spreading Islamic religion only two years after Mohammed’s death. In 632 AD the Arabian penisula had been united, but Persia had not. But this is probably just me being needlessly nitpicky.

Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.

On September 1st, 1939, German forces crossed into Poland. Two days later, on September 3rd, England, France, Australia, and New Zealand all declared war against Germany. Two days after that on September 5th, the United States declared its neutrality in the conflict. The U.S. didn’t see why we should get involved in a European matter. After all, it was happening in Europe, not in our own country, so why should we bother or care? For all we could tell, Poland might have provoked the attack.

It wasn’t until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 that the U.S. realized it could no longer maintain a neutral position in the war. After this rude awakening, the U.S. geared up for war and began to slug it out on two separate fronts. It took many years and the force of an entire nation backing the war effort before we celebrated V-E Day and V-J Day.

This history should be familiar to us, not only because we studied World War II in school and we watch it nightly on the History Channel, but because the same thing seems to be happening now–albeit with a twist of locations. And I need to credit Glenn Beck for first pointing out this historical linkage.

In current history, it was the U.S. and not Poland that received a Blitzkrieg attack. While some of our allies–notably England–have rallied to our aid in this war against the terrorists, most of Europe is sitting back and declaring itself neutral in the conflict. It’s almost as if the world is at a pre-December 7th state in the conflict, but this time the positions of Europe and the U.S. are reversed. Will there be an attack equivalent to Pearl Harbor that will engage Europe fully in this war? Or will the parallel break down? I joked with my wife that since there is a slight twist to these events, I couldn’t really say the two time periods are parallel–more like perpendicular events. Eh, so not everyone appreciates math humor.

To round out this historical parallel, one would expect an attack on Europe as devastating and as unsuspected as the 1941 attack in Hawaii. Imagine the horror of an attack by Islamic fanatics in Berlin, causing the death of thousands. Germany has remained neutral in the war on terror, so any attack against Germany would be unwarranted and unexpected. I hope Europe might be spared the horror and tragedy of such an attack, but I also believe that without the impetus of such an attack, Europe will not fully engage with us against our common enemies. And since the terrorists hate the West and Western civilizations, Europe does have a common enemy even if it chooses not to engage them.

If such a vicious and unexpected attack does occur in Europe, I hope it will serve as a wake-up call. So far the majority of Europe has ignored, however uneasily, the March 11 attack in Madrid, the July 7 attack in London, and the weeks of riots in France. (To be honest, England has been our ally since before the London bombings, and France seems to have found its backbone after the riots, as the Prime Minister recently stated France would be willing to use nuclear weapons against anyone who attacked the nation.)

Having watched the brouhaha surrounding the Danish political cartoons about Mohammed, I am somewhat less than confident in Europe’s strength and determination. So far, Europe has not stood by the Western democratic principle of free speech and has buckled under to Islamic pressure to publicly censor the cartoons. No one really cares about insulting Christianity because they know that Christians don’t believe in cutting throats and turning themselves into human bombs to make a point. But Islam does–or to be more accurate, many followers of Islam do.

I am afraid that Europe is going down the road of acquiescing to Islamist threats. I can’t help but picture the Islamic fanatics as international bullies, threatening and carrying out violence if they don’t get their way. When you are confronted by a bully, you have only a few options. You can run away, assuming that you won’t encounter him again, or that you can successfully run from him again if you do. But as the world shrinks with the swiftness and availability of travel, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide from those who would hurt you. Alternatively, you could surrender to the bully’s threats. You sometimes see this with dogs. The dog who surrenders to the stronger dog will roll over on its back and piddle on itself to show its submission. I’m not all that keen on the idea of politically rolling over and piddling on ourselves to resist Islamist brutality. The last option is to resist the bully. Yes, fighting against the bully may hurt, and the bully may win the first fight, but if you fight again and again and again, every time the bully confronts you, either you will win the fight or the bully will come to realize that it’s not worth fighting you over and over. Bullies are basically cowards at heart, so when someone stands up to them and fights back, they are likely to roll over and piddle themselves.

Before September 1st, 1939, there were several times when Hitler took risks: arming Germany contrary to the Versailles treaty, sending troops into the Rhineland, and annexing the Sudetenland. He later remarked that he would have backed down if any of the European nations had called him to account for these acts. But because no one had the political backbone to hold him accountable, the world had to endure years of bloody fighting against the Nazis. We saw, and ignored, certain attacks made against us: the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of our embassies in Africa, the attack against the U.S.S. Cole. Because we did not act decisively against these weaker attacks, I can’t help but believe we encouraged the terrorists to strike us in a way we could no longer ignore.

As much as I’d like to see Europe to join with us in the war against the terrorists, I don’t want them to go through a Pearl Harbor-like event of death and destruction. I just despair that without some historic equivalent, Europe won’t stand up against the bully of runaway Islamofascism.