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Nixon accurately fingered the real problem Americans had already faced in the aftermath of Vietnam and still face today, over twenty years after the publication of his book. He not only knew what that problem was but wanted to make certain that I knew it and did not partake of the “intellectual junk food” that Vietnam was an inevitable defeat and that the consequences of that defeat were somehow anything less than a bloodbath for the people of Southeast Asia. That intellectual junk food is today not only the source for the liberal template of Vietnam. It is the stark objective of liberals sentimental for the 1960s and early 1970s to use the same kind of intellectual junk food to create a Vietnam-like template for Iraq. In the minds of modern liberals — and as a college student anti-Nixon protester in 1970 I was briefly one of them — the Vietnam War era is viewed as a romanticized time of an immoral war led by amoral men that was ended by idealistic college kids as a lot of great music played in the background. And everyone lived happily ever after.
THIS FAIRY TALE IS, as George Bush was too polite to say, not just intellectual junk food. It was — and remains — a lie. In point of fact, the now romanticized McGovern campaign to defeat Nixon over Vietnam ended in a brutal 49-state defeat. Nixon, as he later admitted, did himself in by giving his enemies the sword of Watergate. Only then did Democrats gain the power in Congress to undercut the peace that Nixon had negotiated, resulting in the bloodbath that Nixon as president was scorned for predicting. The very core of today’s Democratic foreign policy ideas on Iraq have already been tried in Vietnam — and millions died as a result. A new group dedicated to the liberal Vietnam myth, billing themselves “Recreate ‘68,” is so enamored of the fairy tale of “revolution” that it is using the violence surrounding the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968 as a rallying cry to bring the same ideas to the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver. Heedless of history, they would implement the bloody failure of liberal Vietnam policy in Iraq. Intellectual junk food as foreign policy.
Richard Nixon’s No More Vietnams is today just as important a read as it was when he sent me the book in 1987. While it has many lessons about Vietnam and foreign policy in general that should be taken to heart, there is one that Nixon sought above all to make clear as he passed it down to the next generation.
“In Vietnam,” he writes, “we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. It should mean we will not fail again.”
As Americans consider the upcoming report of General David Petraeus on the state of the American effort in Iraq, they could do worse than to remember what President Nixon had to say in this book, not to mention the essence of what he was communicating to Ronald Reagan’s young staff. Iraq or Vietnam, intellectual junk food is still intellectual junk food. And in some cases, it’s the same people serving it.
Message received, Mr. President. Thank you. You were right.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online