Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bush is finally comparing Iraq to Vietnam

But I think he's missing the point. He frames Vietnam as a war that we abandoned too early - and points to a lot of badness that happened subsequently (Khmer Rouge, re-education camps, etc.) as the result of our withdrawal.

What this misses is the exact same lesson that I believe he is missing in Iraq today: that you can have all the military success in the world, but having great success on a military mission that is fundamentally a political/social problem is like trying to keep your house dry by building the most incredible concrete foundation while ignoring the leaky roof above. You need the dry foundation for sure, but without the roof you're kinda wasting your time.

As far as I can tell, our military is doing a very good job of providing security, given the job we're asking them to do. The problem, however, is that our floundering on healing of ethnic divisions is counterproductive to the job we're asking the military to do. Every day that the divisions are not addressed leads to more people growing frustrated and taking up extremist roles. This is not "blaming America", but merely pointing out that we haven't fixed the leaky roof so we should hardly be surprised that the watertight basement is nevertheless filling with water.

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