Iraq Is Iraq; Vietnam Was Vietnam

Commentator Dinesh D'Souza is tired of hearing all the comparisons between the Iraq war and the Vietnam War. He's not convinced they are at all alike.

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Michele NORRIS, host:

Commentator Dinesh D'Souza is tired of hearing all the comparisons between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam. He's not convinced they are at all alike.

DINESH D'SOUZA: Iraq is not Vietnam and here's why. First, we had no vital interest in Vietnam. The United States got involved in Vietnam starting in the 1950s due to an elaborate, but misguided theory of dominos. So if Vietnam went communist, the whole of Asia would become communist. Well, it didn't happen.

But my larger point is that when Vietnam did fall to the communists, America's foreign policy interest and economic interest were largely unaffected. Iraq, by contrast, is strategically vital. Consider its neighbors, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia. If Iraq falls into the hands of Islamic radicals, they would control two major countries - Iran and Iraq.

Next, we would expect them to target Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The outcome in Iraq affects both our security and our economic welfare. For the foreseeable future, we are dependent on Middle Eastern oil. We cannot afford to lose Iraq.

Second, in Vietnam, we were allied with the bad guys, the South Vietnamese government was corrupt and tyrannical and our only reason for supporting it was that it was a better alternative to the communist regime in the North.

In politics, it is often a necessity you ally with the bad guys in order to avoid the worst guys. But the bad guys remain bad guys. They alienate their people and the popular resentment that they provoke often carries over to us.

By contrast, in Iraq, we are allied with an elected government. Braving bullets, the Iraqi people went to the polls and elected the current regime. Some people said at the time that this was the government that America installed, but this isn't true. The Bush administration wanted the secular guy, Alawi, but the Iraqis chose the religious guy. So we have a government that represents the will of the Iraqi majority. That's a good thing, because it means we have local allies in Iraq who have popular support.

Finally, in Vietnam, there was no way to win the war and preserve our dignity. The United States in Vietnam faced several hundred thousand resolute communists on the other side. These were guerilla fighters fighting on familiar territory against American boys who didn't know why the heck they were going over there.

Sure, America could have won by bombing Vietnam into the Stone Age, but victory at that price was not worth having. Vietnam was a no-win situation. Iraq is not. America can win in Iraq. Military tacticians from Sun Tzu, the Karl Von Clausewitz, have pointed out that strength in war can be measured as resources times will.

All the strength in the world is useless if you don't have the will to fight. We saw the same lost of will over the Vietnam War. But Vietnam was a lost cause. In Iraq, we are in danger of losing a war that we can win.

NORRIS: Dinesh D'Souza is the author of "The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11." He lives in San Diego.

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