“It’s Vietnam all over again,” declared noted conservative apostate Bruce Bartlett on his Facebook page. Bartlett’s comment accompanied a link to an opinion piece published in the English newspaper, The Guardian: “Intellectuals with blood on their pens: Afghanistan and Iraq show how ‘eggheads’ are making this century as violent as the last one.”
The Guardian opinion piece espouses standard left-wing moral equivalence between 20th century Western imperialism and 20th century totalitarianism; and it argues that American and British counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are part and parcel of this continuum.
Of course, this is complete and utter nonsense. Western imperialism, for all its faults, never exterminated tens of millions of people as did the fascists and the communists.
Nor did Western imperialism try to enslave people. In fact, quite the opposite: the British introduced into their colonies the English common law and classically liberal concepts such as natural law and natural rights, and a belief in the inherent dignity of the individual.
This is not to say that Western colonialism is blameless; only that its record is far better than most lefty journalists and academics are willing to admit — and it is in no way comparable to fascism or communism.
(For additional insight about the reality of Western imperialism and Western colonialism, I would refer readers to the seminal work of Lord P.T. Bauer, author of — among other great books — Equality, the Third World and Economic Delusion.)
As for Iraq and Afghanistan, has there ever been a more selfless and noble undertaking in the history of war? The United States and Britain, after all, have never had any interest in annexing these countries; and our rules of engagement have been breathtakingly restrictive.
Indeed, we have put our troops in greater danger than any other military would dare to endure precisely to avert civilian casualties. Moreover, our aims and objectives are pure. They are to allow the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in peace, free of fear, terror and subjugation. This because a free and self-reliant people are our best defense and our best bulwark against violent Islamic extremism.
So it’s not, as the Left would have it, “Vietnam all over again.” The United States and Britain are not fighting an “immoral and unwinnable war.” Iraq and Afghanistan are extraordinarily just and winnable wars. (So, too, of course, was Vietnam, but that’s another story…)
However, it is Vietnam all over again in this sense: The Left continues to propagate moral equivalence where moral equivalence does not exist; and it continues to demonize the West. What else is new?
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