Ripped from the headlines

In my travels this morning I ran across this headline on WorldNet Daily:

Dean: America can’t win in Iraq

This totally gets under my skin. I won’t pontificate, and I’m not here to bang on the pulpit. He might be right; the only personal memory I have of Vietnam was being irritated because the news coverage of Americans coming home pre-empted Saturday morning cartoons. When I have a knee-jerk reaction, I usually try to step back and find some facts.

A quick search took me to this site, which has a timeline for the Vietnam war. (I haven’t looked at anything else on the site, so please don’t write me hatemail because the pictures were graphic and I didn’t warn you. They’re war pictures; I’m sure they’re graphic.) According to the timeline, the US started training South Vietnamese troops in 1956. The last Americans were evacuated when Siagon fell in 1975. That looks like nineteen years of official involvement; we won’t speculate on how many actual years it was. I know, we had men in Cambodia when we didn’t have men in Cambodia.

OK, fast forward: Iraqi troops rolled into Kuwait in late July, 1990. I know this because I was in the hospital after having just given birth to Alex. American troops entered the region in August, 1990. I know this because Alex was three weeks old to the day when Eric landed over there. Troops started coming home in the spring of 1991, but many of the troops who were deployed originally have been back because we never actually left. Not fully. We were there to witness the farce of the UN sanctions and enforce the no-fly zone. So far we’ve got fifteen years of official involvement.

Some will argue that they are separate conflicts. I disagree. If all of our troops had come home, and then gone back I might be persuaded, but we have had troops on the ground continuously. Men and women have left their families to keep the peace over there. They’ve missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, births, and deaths.

My big question is this: Are we there to win? The last time I checked, we were there to help the Iraqi people get back on their feet. We cut a cancer out of their society, and now we’re helping them heal. How does one win? Will we have won when the Iraqi government goes fully on line? Or when Saddam is executed for his crimes? Or when the remnant of the terrorists are routed?

You’re right about one thing, Mr. Dean. We won’t win because winning and losing is not the point. The point is to make the world a safer place.

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