At the end of 1975 I went to the Thai-Cambodian border to talk to refugees. Their horrific stories of people with glasses being killed as “intellectuals” and of “bourgeois” babies being beaten to death against trees were being dismissed as CIA propaganda by the anti-American Western Left, but it seemed obvious to me that they were true. I wanted to discover how the Khmer Rouge had grown and come to power; I wrote a book called Sideshow, which was very critical of the way in which the United States had brought war to Cambodia while trying to extricate itself from Vietnam.That is pretty much the key.
But horror had engulfed all of Indo-China as a result of the US defeat in 1975. In Vietnam and Laos there was no vast mass murder but the communists created cruel gulags and, from Vietnam in particular, millions of people fled, mostly by boat and mostly to the US. Given the catastrophe of the communist victories, I have always thought that those like myself who were opposed to the American efforts in Indochina should be very humble. I also think it wrong to dismiss the US efforts there as sheer disaster. Lee Kuan Yew, the former longtime Prime Minister of Singapore, has a subtler view. He argues that, although America lost in IndoChina in 1975, the fact that it was there so long meant that other SouthEast Asian countries had time to build up their economies to relieve the poverty of their peasants and thus resist communist encroachment — which they probably could not have done had IndoChina gone communist in the 1960s.
That long view seems to me to be the one that has to be applied to Iraq. I still believe the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was the correct thing to do — and it was something only the United States could have done. For all the horrors that extremist Sunnis and Shias are inflicting on each other today, the US rid the world of the Pol Pot of the Middle East. So long as the vile Saddam family regime remained in power there was no hope of progress in the region. There is still hope — if we do not abandon the Iraqi people.
We must not abandon the Iraqi people the way we abandoned the people of South East Asia. I supported the abandonment at the time because I believed John Kerry, the Communists, and their American supporters. So I get the humble bit. In fact it is a stain on my soul. The best I can do now is never forget.
H/T Powerline via Instapundit
And for my e-mail buddy linearthinker who thinks this is very important. It is. It may be that the Revisionism of Vietnam is finally going to get revised. About time.
Cross Posted at Power and Control and at Classical Values