When the editor of National Review says Iraq is — almost — another Vietnam, it bears mentioning:
For the past 30 years, left-right debate over America’s wars has traveled a well-worn rut. The Left says whatever war is in question is “another Vietnam,” while the Right denies it. After three decades of being serially wrong, in the Iraq war liberals might be making their first-ever correct diagnosis.
Writing in the International Herald Tribune, two fellows from the Council of Foreign Relations take it a step further:
Americans have heard much about the Vietnam Syndrome, which is said to have been banished by the 1991 Gulf War: a weary, chastened America withdrawing from the world and lacking the self-confidence to use force even where the cause was justified. The trauma of Vietnam left the United States a hesitant and equivocal superpower, materially strong but politically weak and reluctant to defend its interests.
An important consequence of this was an increase in challenges to U.S. interests as rivals exploited the apparent power vacuum resulting from American retrenchment. For a decade after Vietnam, the Soviet Union responded with a major increase in adventurism in the developing world, expanding its influence from the horn of Africa to Central America.
Today, a similar dynamic is already under way. With the American public divided and increasingly war-weary, and the U.S. military tied down in Iraq, wearing out its equipment and testing its morale, a wide range of viruses that a healthy American foreign policy immune system normally suppresses are now gaining in virulence…
The Iraq Syndrome is likely to get worse before it gets better – and as it does, challenges such as Hezbollah, Iran and North Korea are likely to become more common. We are in for a season of trials that could create vexing challenges for U.S. foreign policy for a very long time to come.
The nutroots is banking on war-weariness as their path to power in ’08, but that all depends on which weighs heavier among voters: their disgust with the GOP, or their fear of another golden Seventies-ish decade of weakness and “malaise” — in a word, “Iraq Syndrome.”
Enter Rudy, the un-Republican. A new Rasmussen survey puts him three points left of center, leaving him perfectly positioned to snatch the middle in the general election but in deep trouble in the primary — until you factor in Iraq Syndrome, that is. Giuliani has two major advantages over the rest of the field: (1) he’s renowned for his managerial skills, a characteristic the electorate will be starving for in its next president, and (2) because he has no political record over the past five years, he remains identified in the national consciousness with 9/11. Put those two together and it adds up to a do-over on the war on terror: electing Rudy gets us back to where it all began, with an executive who’s just as serious as Bush about the threat but, unlike Bush, whose abilities damn near everyone has the utmost confidence in. Granted, he’ll have to distance himself a bit from his support for Iraq, but the GOP nominee is going to be an Iraq-war-supporter whoever he (or she) may be. In fact, Giuliani’s steadfastness on the war might actually help him overcome his liabilities among the base on social issues. He’s a one-issue politician; McCain has to juggle immigration and campaign finance reform, but Giuliani’s candidacy — and I’m sure it’ll be sold this way — is essentially a referendum on America’s commitment to the war on terror. A vote for Rudy is a vote against Iraq Syndrome.
You could sway a lot of pro-lifers into voting for a pro-choicer if the alternative, at least symbolically, is Jimmy Carter. Especially when that pro-choicer’s bound to discover some exciting nuances in the pro-life position he hadn’t thought of before the closer we get to the caucuses.
Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure: Condi’s done.