President Bush’s speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars drew an analogy between leaving Vietnam and leaving Iraq. He also cited Germany, Japan, and South Korea as examples of nations in which we remained leading to dramatic results in democracy. His hypothesis is interesting, but deeply flawed. For example, Bush argues if we leave Iraq it will result in other nations falling victim to terrorism. The United States left Vietnam as critics argued the ‘falling dominoes” theory which insisted other southeastern nations would fall to communism. As of this date, no other southeast Asian nation went communist despite the success of communism in Vietnam.
The success in Germany, Japan, and South Korea was attributable to various factors. For example, all three nations are homogeneous and were never divided over issues of religion or fighting factions. Each of these nations slowly evolved into democratic entities because they possessed political institutions which all parties accepted as the basis of government. None of these characteristics is present in Iraq. The Bush surge has brought absolutely no evidence of increased political cohesion. If anything, political divisions have gotten even worse.
One might also point out that the United States provided economic stimulation which resulted in Germany, Japan and South Korea becoming modern post industrial societies. Iraq is much different, and contains, at this point, no prospect for economic development. In fact, over 2,000,000 have fled the country. What percent of those who fled came from economic entrepreneurs or well educated leaders? Iraq is losing its vital center of educated professionals due to violence.
President Bush, as always, is confused about history. He was confused in his speech about Cambodia which was the scene of the “killing fields” and confused those murders had anything to do with American withdrawal from Vietnam. Ironically, the examples cited by Bush represent policies that are dramatically opposite of what he is trying in Iraq.