Stop beating the drum for war with Iran

March 7, 2012 12:00 am

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Out of the blue, an old buddy of mine this week sent me some photos of us as soldiers in Vietnam back when we were young and stupid -- and, really, is any other combination feasible?

That lamentable war seemed a good idea at the time, and for my part I remain proud that I served, but over the years I have come to think that the statesmen who sent us there were the stupid ones.

In their sage grayness, they thought that every challenge was ripe for a military solution. They knew little and cared less about that foreign country's history and culture. They had a theory that if South Vietnam fell to communism other dominos would topple, making all Asia in the likeness of Red China.

To the surprise of such thinkers, Vietnam after reunification soon fought a border war with China. Although the Vietnamese had invaded Cambodia -- the Khmer Rouge's brutality was too much even for the Vietnamese communists -- the Socialist Republic of Vietnam turned out not to set the dominos tumbling on the map of the world. It just wanted to be free on its own terms.

While its freedom does not match ours, free enterprise in Vietnam continually expands the old-fashioned socialist corset. Golf courses have sprung up where battles were once fought. U.S. warships now come to make hospitality calls.

So what was the Vietnam War all about? What were we thinking? Not very much. Stupid statesmen just had their dogmatic theories. It seemed a good idea at the time.

Bombing Iran seems a good idea to many in our time. Back in the balmy days of bipartisanship, politics stopped at the water's edge. Now, every partisan politician tries to drown his opponent by pushing him off the water's edge into the treacherous deep.

Keeping time to the drumbeat of war, President Barack Obama in recent days marched into a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israeli lobby, to appear tough on Iran. This was a prelude to his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is straining to take military action against Iran's nuclear facility.

Talk softly and carry a big stick -- Teddy Roosevelt's prescription for foreign policy -- seems to have been replaced with talk loudly and wave the big stick in foreigners' faces as a prelude to whacking them with it.


First Published 2012-03-06 23:12:11

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