A recent op-ed in the New York Times by William Shawcross and Peter Rodman entitled “Defeat’s Killing Fields” examines the prospect of defeat in Iraq in light of America’s historical experience in Vietnam. The fact that these two authors evidently sparred over the conflict in Indochina back when it was raging gives the piece some weight, and I commend the two writers for attempting to inject some historical perspective into the Iraq debate – a place where it is urgently needed yet often sorely lacking – but I take issue with some of their conclusions.
They are right to point out that the rosy view taken by some of the
That said, the authors also make some dubious arguments, particularly when they advance the notion that, had the
This history – both what Shawcross and Rodman get right and what they get wrong – does have some bearing on the situation in
…anyone who thinks an American defeat in
They cite a full-fledged and grizzly civil war, a massive refugee crisis, an increase in attacks by emboldened champions of radical Islam, and an empowered
I have some major qualms with the authors’ argument, however. First, and most relevant, they don’t propose what an American alternative ought to be. Looking at the current situation in
The real question, to my mind, is whether or not that course of action will still be possible in January of 2009 when there is leadership change in