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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 31, 2007 / 17 Elul, 5766

The ghosts of wars lost

By Caroline B. Glick


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | French President Nicholas Sarkozy's statements Tuesday in support of stiffer sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons were justifiably heartening to many. Sarkozy's remarks, like his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's trip last week to Iraq, marked a refreshing departure from his predecessor Jacques Chirac's knee-jerk anti-Americanism.

Yet while Sarkozy's open support for sanctions serves to distinguish him from Chirac, his justification of his position indicates that although much has changed, much has also remained the same in France. By Sarkozy's lights, "This [sanctions] initiative is the only one that can allow us to escape an alternative that I can only call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

Praising Sarkozy on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal was quick conflate his remarks with remarks made by Senator John McCain a few months ago about the prospect of a US military strike against Iran's nuclear installations. McCain said, "There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising the military option; that is a nuclear-armed Iran."

But these statements are not the same. A moral chasm divides them. Unlike McCain, Sarkozy makes no moral distinctions between a nuclear-armed Iran and a military strike aimed at preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. For him, they are the same.

Sarkozy's moral blindness is rooted in post-World War II Europe's instrumental treatment of the legacy of that war. For the Europeans — and first and foremost for the Germans, and the Dutch, French and Belgians who collaborated with the Germans during the war — the main lesson of World War II was that militarism and nationalism are bad. This view informed post-war Europe's ideological embrace of pacifism and trans-nationalism.

But in truth, militarism and nationalism did not cause World War II. The true cause of that war was Germany's decision to embrace evil and depravity as its guiding philosophy and the willingness of the nations of Europe that collaborated with German authorities to also embrace this evil. That is, the real legacy of the war is a moral one and the real lesson to be learned from the war is not that nations must allow themselves to be gobbled up into trans-national entities or that they must eschew war at all costs. Rather, the true lesson of the war is that nations should embrace morality that sanctifies life and freedom and that holds men and women accountable for their choices.

Europe's refusal to reckon with this central truth is what brings leaders like Sarkozy today to ignore the real reason why Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons. As a regime that embraces evil and preaches genocide and global domination, Iran cannot be trusted with weapons of genocide and global domination. War waged to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power is preferable and less catastrophic than a war Iran would wage if it were to acquire nuclear weapons.

Europe is far from unique in its refusal to accept and contend with the true legacy of its wars. Humanity as a whole more often then not prefers to evade the difficult lessons of war — and especially of lost wars. We see this very clearly today in the Islamic world where the forces of global jihad base their efforts to destroy human freedom on their refusal to accept the reasons that Western nations, organized around the Judeo-Christian notion of human liberty, have defeated their forces in war for the past five hundred years.

The refusal to reckon with the lessons of war is also the central unifying characteristic of Israel's political and intellectual establishment. The Israeli establishment's denials of the lessons of its military history began at the end of the Yom Kippur War, and extend to the 1982 Lebanon War, the Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, the Oslo Process, the 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon, the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, and the war in Lebanon last summer.

In the midst of all this evasion, something refreshing, and indeed, inspiring is happening today in America. There, a debate about the legacy of an unpopular lost war has recently begun in earnest. That war, of course is the Vietnam War.

Last Wednesday, US President George W. Bush gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he discussed the consequences of America's defeat in Vietnam. Bush did not speak of the war itself. He did not connect then-president Lyndon Johnson's failure to explain the war to the American people to the US media's decision, made around 1967, to actively sue for American defeat at the hands of the Soviet and Chinese-backed Communists in North Vietnam. He did not discuss the defeat of the members of the American establishment at the hands of their children.

Bush made no mention of the fact that Congress's refusal to provide military assistance to the South Vietnamese made their loss of independence and freedom a foregone conclusion. He didn't discuss how then-president Gerald Ford's betrayed South Vietnam when he refused to provide air and naval support to South Vietnam when the North Vietnamese invaded in 1975.

Bush did not discuss the reasons the US was defeated at all. He limited his remarks to the consequences of that defeat on Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and on the US's position in the world to this very day. He noted that some two million Cambodians died at the hands of Pol Pot's murderous Communist regime which rose to power after South Vietnam was overrun. He recalled the hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese who were imprisoned in concentration camps, the tens of thousands who were killed and the hundreds of thousands who took to sea in rickety boats in a desperate bid to find freedom in the America that had just abandoned them. He noted statements by Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri asserting the US defeat in Vietnam as proof that the US can and will be defeated by Islam.

The US mass media reacted to Bush's speech with fits of hysterical rage. The New York Times, which together with CBS News led the media war against the US defense of South Vietnam, dismissed the President's remarks as "bizarre." Major newspapers and television networks excoriated Bush for remembering the heavy and abiding toll of that lost war and for warning against repeating the mistake of embracing defeat in Iraq.

Christopher Hitchens' response to Bush's speech in the Observer was emblematic of the Left's condemnations. Hitchens wrote, "If one question is rightly settled in the American and, indeed, the international memory, it is that the Vietnam War was at best a titanic blunder and at worst a campaign of atrocity and aggression."

But contrary to the claims of Hitchens and his comrades, the question of America's memory of Vietnam was never settled. They never managed to successfully dictate America's national memory, even as they succeeded in squelching popular debate of history.

This week, author Robert Kaplan published an article in The Atlantic Monthly pointing out the unbridgeable gap between popular histories of the Vietnam War, which are largely based on the views of that war espoused by Hitchens and the New York Times, and the literature of the war read by the American military. Entitled "Re-reading Vietnam," Kaplan gives an overview of that literature, which in comparison to the Left's bestsellers, has generally been published by boutique presses.

These books tell the stories of the warriors who fought in Vietnam. They discuss the stoic heroism of the American POWs who were subjected to years physical torture and unrelenting psychological abuse during their captivity in North Vietnamese prison camps. They describe the counter-insurgency tactics employed by forces in Vietnam that by 1970 had succeeded in politically defeating of the Viet Cong in ninety percent of South Vietnam.

As Kaplan notes, in recent years, these books have been supplemented by new histories, like Lewis Sorley's A Better War, which examine the strategic success of the American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam in the war's later years after General Creighton Abrams took command from General William Westmoreland in 1968.

After the September 11 attacks, the American public began expressing a willingness to reassess Vietnam. This newfound openness to the war was manifested in the public's belated embrace of Vietnam veterans who were shunned and silenced upon their return home.

The force of that embrace was felt strongly in the 2004 presidential elections.

Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry had built his political career on his public condemnations of his brothers in arms when he joined the anti-war movement after being released from the Navy in 1970. The veterans banded together and with massive public support launched a successful campaign against him.

Although the Left has denounced Bush for his use of Vietnam as a warning for what will occur if the US is defeated in Iraq, the war's opponents have made near obsessive use of the Vietnam War as a means of convincing the American public that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. Just a week after the initial US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, some major media outlets were already invoking Vietnam and warning that "a Vietnam-like quagmire" was ensuing in Iraq.

In a recently released study of the US media's treatment of the war in Iraq, the Internet weblog "Media Busters" noted that a document search showed that since March 2003, The New York Times has published some 2,500 articles that make mention of both Vietnam and Iraq. CNN has run more than 3,000 stories that discuss the wars side by side. And always, the message is the same: As then, so today, the US cannot win, and so every American life sacrificed in Iraq is sacrificed in vain.

Bush's challenge to the received popular wisdom about the Vietnam War came then against the backdrop of these cultural crosscurrents that also inform the current debate on the war in Iraq and the war against Islamic fascism in general. Bush is to be applauded for raising the story Vietnam's legacy. His entrance into the debate will no doubt speed up the long-delayed moral reckoning with the legacy of Vietnam — of America's betrayal of its South Vietnamese allies, and of the consequences of that betrayal on America's international standing and its own self-assessment.

Hopefully, America's newfound readiness to reckon with the lessons of Vietnam will bring about a renewed and realistic American assessment and discussion of the current war against Islamic fascism. Then too, perhaps America's willingness to examine the demons of its past will prompt Europe and Israel and perhaps one day even the Islamic world, to honestly study their military pasts. For until we recognize the causes of our previous failures, we will be doomed to repeat them, time after time after time.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2007, Caroline B. Glick