The incident at Haditha--or the massacre, as it is often called--is due for a wholesale rethinking. The allegations are that in 2005 U.S. Marines went on a killing spree and deliberately executed 24 Iraqi civilians. The casualties have drawn an extraordinary amount of political attention, becoming an emblem for everything critics say is wrong with the Iraq war--in the common telling, another My Lai....
Many, including Members of Congress, were looking for another moral bonfire to discredit the cause in Iraq, and they found a pretext in Haditha. The critics rushed to judgment; facts and evidence were discarded to fit the antiwar template. Most despicably, they created and stoked a political atmosphere that exposes American soldiers in the line of duty, risking and often losing their lives, to b criminal liability for the chaos of war. This is the deepest shame of Haditha, and the one for which apologies ought to be made.
Sometime back, Scott Johnson from Power Line wrote a column that discussed the Vietnam template used since early in the Afghanistan war to measure all U.S. military behavior:
Many have noted the media's efforts to portray the the current war in Iraq as a replay of Vietnam. These efforts date back to R.W. Apple's invocation of Vietnam on day 24 of the campaign in Afghanistan:Like an unwelcome specter from an unhappy past, the ominous word "quagmire" has begun to haunt conversations among government officials and students of foreign policy, both here and abroad. Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam?
This drum of defeatism has not stopped beating. This past week, for example, Knight Ridder reporter Tom Lasseter portrayed the situation in Iraq's Anbar province as a repeat of Vietnam. Lasseter 's article is a troubling piece with relevant quotes from officers in the thick of the action.
But the Vietnam invoked by most journalists is the media's Vietnam: the Vietnam which Braestrup exposed as a false media construct. (David Brooks's column yesterday
is a notable exception.) The elite media organs covered in Braestrup's book didn't get it right the first time around; it would be nice if they took a timeout for some introspection regarding past errors before superimposing the Vietnam template (as Austin Bay calls it) on the current conflict.
If only one could put Lasseter in touch with the Power Line reader who served in Vietnam and last week wrote in from his current post in Iraq. He finds only one similarity: "[T]he deplorable way the mainstream media with their left-leaning bias have reported the two wars."
There is another similarity, although the political left is incapable of appreciating it. During Vietnam, the media; academics, intellectuals, many public figures, entertainers, and the antiwar protesters of the time consistently and stubbornly refused to see communism for what it really was. They steadfastly ignored the millions of deaths brought about by this ideology in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, and instead focused their attention on denouncing the United States as the center of all evil in the world.
Today we have the very same people consistently and adamantly refusing to acknowledge Islamic fundamentalism and the religious fanatics blowing up themselves and others for what they are.
Once again, the left prefers to ignore and/or enable a barbaric ideology that thrives on human enslavement, misery, and death. With tedious and infinitely repetitive talking points, they continue to subscribe to the comforting notion that the US is the cause of the mayhem and butchery and ignore the real butchers. And their deluded women's movement is more interested in forcing science to acknowledge that women are identical to men in every way possible, than they are in helping the women in the Middle East get out from under the oppression of Islam.
In other words, the MSM's Vietnam "template" is actually nothing more than that primitive and immature psychological defense mechanism known as DENIAL.
In two major wars, the political left has consistently perceived America as the threat to the world, and ignored to the point of complete hysterical blindness the real oppressors of human freedom and dignity. During Vietnam they deluded themselves into thinking that communism was okay (some even believed it to be superior to a free society) as long as you didn't provoke it. And now they prefer the same delusion about the religion of peace.
Does anyone doubt that they truly hoped and believed that Haditha would be the Iraqi Mai Lai--and that it would give them another chance to demonstrate their own moral superiority by loudly expressing the latent and fashionable anti-Americanism that is never far from the surface of leftist ideology.
But, as the WSJ article points out, the moral bonfire they gleefully stoked with their rush to judgment against the Marines in Haditha only exposes the flames of their own moral vanity.