On January 27, 1973, the United States, the Republic of Vietnam and the communist North Vietnam signed the Paris Peace Accords. The aim of the treaty was to stop the fighting in Vietnam and give the United States a basis to exit the prolonged conflict that had lasted well over 15 years.
The United States had already started reducing its troops in South Vietnam in 1971. The peace treaty accelerated the troop reduction and by March 1973, the last U.S. combat soldiers left the Vietnamese soil.
President Richard Nixon did say that should North Vietnam and the Viet Cong rebels violate the ceasefire, the United States would intervene militarily. That was not to happen—on June 4, 1973, the Senate passed an amendment to prohibit such intervention. So in October 1973, the Viet Cong did violate the ceasefire and led the president of the Republic of Vietnam declare in January 1974 that the war had restarted and the Paris Peace Accords were no longer in effect.
Long story short, within the next two years the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong crushed any resistance South Vietnam had to offer on its own, without the support of its main ally, the United States, and entered Saigon in April 1975. The Vietnam War was over and the communist North had won.
On October 21, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year. The withdrawal was far quicker than it had been in Vietnam, as by December 18 the last U.S. troops left the country, after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta having announced three days earlier, on December 15, 2011, that the war in Iraq was over.
Despite the U.S. withdrawal, the violence in Iraq didn’t stop. Moreover, since the Americans left the country, it has gradually become worse and has now reached the point where the Iraqi government is all but defenseless in the face of an insurgency by the Sunni-led, al-Qaida-inspired terrorist group ISIS.
Unlike Nixon though, President Obama hasn’t said he’d help Iraq, should the need arise. In fact, for weeks the Obama administration maintained that the United States would not send any troops to Iraq’s aid, and would not help the Iraqis in any way.
Could it go any worse for the Iraqis? Yes. Because on June 16, President Obama announced he’d deploy 275 American servicemen to Iraq. The bad news—on top of the ridiculously small number? These troops were to be sent to defend the U.S. personnel and the U.S. embassy, not to help the Iraqi government quell the insurgency and end the violence.
On Thursday, June 19, however, the Obama administration promised an additional 300 men. As the New York Times said in its ‘breaking news’ alert, these troops are “to help beleaguered security forces fend off Sunni militants,” but just that—they’re not there to fight, but only help. Moreover, the same news alert said, “[t]he president emphasized again that he will not send combat troops to Iraq, but he said the United States would help the Iraqis ‘take the fight’ to the militants.”
Even though the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts are completely different, it’s hard not to see the parallels. The U.S. abandons its commitment, withdraws the troops, watches from thousands of miles away how its former ally gets pounded into oblivion and then shrugs it off by saying, “it’s their problem anyway.”
And at the end of the day, it’s not even relevant any more who started the conflicts and why, and whether these wars were necessary or not. There were plenty of critics who used to say that Iraq was to turn into President George W. Bush’s Vietnam. But in fact it has turned into President Barack Obama’s Vietnam because, what matters is that he was the one who declined to see the war through, to help Iraqis rebuild their country so that they could independently fight against the terrorists, and he is the one who now refuses to send combat troops to Iraq to fulfill the commitment his predecessor made to the people of Iraq.
We can’t even say that by sending these security forces and the advisory staff to Baghdad, President Obama is doing more for Iraq than President Nixon did for South Vietnam. Because, first of all, President Nixon was committed to helping the Vietnamese, should the war continue and should the communists violate the ceasefire—his problem was that the Democrat-controlled Congress blocked the intervention. Today it all comes down to Obama’s unwillingness to do the right thing because his Democratic Party controls the Senate—and the Republican-controlled House would be more than willing to fulfill the American commitment to the freedom and stability of Iraq.
The former Vice President, Dick Cheney, and his daughter, the former Assistant Secretary of State on near-eastern affairs, Liz Cheney, wrote in their Wall Street Journal op-ed on June 17:
On a trip to the Middle East this spring, we heard a constant refrain in capitals from the Persian Gulf to Israel, “Can you please explain what your president is doing?” “Why is he walking away?” “Why is he so blithely sacrificing the hard fought gains you secured in Iraq?” “Why is he abandoning your friends?” “Why is he doing deals with your enemies?”
In one Arab capital, a senior official pulled out a map of Syria and Iraq. Drawing an arc with his finger from Raqqa province in northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq, he said, “They will control this territory. Al Qaeda is building safe havens and training camps here. Don’t the Americans care?”
Our president doesn’t seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.
They end their article by pointing out that “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.”
Today’s misfortune of both the United States and Iraq (and the rest of the world who’d like to see a strong America that comes to their aid in need and doesn’t abandon its commitments) is the sad fact that President Obama is about as useful as a cock-flavored lollipop, to quote the classics. He is indeed walking away because he doesn’t have allies; he has popularity ratings (and not necessarily the ones given by the American people). And he really doesn’t care about anything or anyone else but himself and how he looks on television after telling yet another bullshit lie—off the teleprompter, of course.