Many conservatives, including leading conservative voice Rush Limbaugh, have often suggested the left is using Vietnam as their template to derail our efforts in Iraq. I agree with the premise; a concerted effort is being made to limit or deny our success in Iraq, but I don’t believe that Vietnam is the template being used. A study of the left’s actions during the French war in Algeria from the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s reveals many of the activities being used by the left today.
Somewhere among the Democratic planning cells at least one smart person has studied the actions of the left in Algeria and identified the activities which made them successful. Those tactics have been incorporated into the overall Democratic strategy to use Iraq for political gain, attack the President, and/or force our surrender in Iraq.
After World War II the French were ultra-sensitive to anything that might be perceived as Nazi-like or even slightly infringed upon any civil liberty. (It’s easy to understand why after their occupation by the Nazi’s). During the French war with Algeria, the left was successful at equating the actions of their government to those of the Nazi’s. They invoked the fear of repeating that terrible history and created anti-war, anti-government sentiment. Senator Dick Durbin’s comments that our soldiers were conducting themselves at Guantanamo Bay as the Nazi’s did during World War II and John Kerry’s accusation of our soldiers “terrorizing” Iraqi “families in the middle of the night” are both carbon copies of that very tactic. Additionally, the recent onslaught of attacks against the White House on the grounds of civil liberty violations is similar in nature to the fear the French cultivated in making comparisons of their government to the dictatorial and prohibitory civil rights policies of the Nazi’s.
The French Government was accused of (and through the course of the war proven to be) directing an incredibly brutal and morally unacceptable campaign in Algeria. Witnesses and evidence proving this fact emerged and were cooberated throughout the campaign. This gave the anti-war groups the ammunition they needed to fuel their cause.
Even though the U.S. has been conducting this war within all given legal and moral parameters, and punishing those individuals who do not, the left in the U.S. has been trying to use that same strategy of portraying the government (military included) as brutal and immoral. They have attempted to get every inch of anti-war, anti-administration sentiment out of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. They have a standard practice of immediately thinking the worst of our servicemen. All of which fit the model that made the French left successful.
Now, I agree that the actions of a few of our soldiers at Abu Ghraib were intolerable and needed to be met with maximum prosecution and punishment. However, the incessant drone and thumping of the Abu Ghraib rhetoric drum is truly reminiscent of the Algerian War. Guantanamo Bay turned out to be unfounded accusations. But how hard have the agents of the left and Senator’s like Ted Kennedy and Durbin tried to make those events fit that same model, using it to portray our servicemen and the administration as brutal or immoral? Remember the television footage of the Marine who was shown shooting an allegedly “innocent” man in that room during the second assault on Fallujah? How fast did the left’s media trial and punishment happen for that young Marine? Almost immediately. A page pulled right out of the Algerian playbook.
Original opponents to the Algerian war included the most vicious political opponents of the French administrations, communist and socialist groups, as well as other radical left-wing organizations. Anti-war leadership was thus derived from those groups opposed to the government at all times. As time passed, they were able to enlist others to their cause. They became the messengers and make up of the left’s leadership, eventually capitalizing on the mistakes of the French government and military.
Extremely liberal, vocal, left-wing politicians like Kennedy, Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, and Nancy Pelosi have led the charge against this war. Their rhetoric and actions work hand in hand with radical groups like MoveOn.org. They have brought others like Chuck Hagel to their side to participate in the anti-war, anti-Bush effort. Socialist and communist groups have been critical to the anti-war demonstrations here. The most liberal politicians and loudest anti-war, anti-Bush groups have been placed in charge of our defeat, regardless of the facts that show impending victory in Iraq.
(It is noted that the American left is having difficulty making the template fit because, unlike the French government and military, ours are conducting themselves with integrity and morality.)
Similar comparisons of the left’s actions during Vietnam may be made, but ultimately Algeria may be the original template. In order to effectively defeat your opponent, you must understand his game plan, his strategy. To do so, allows you to take defensive and offensive action against him much more effectively and secure victory. If the right is looking to bark up the “Vietnam tree”, they may be more effective at combating the left if they look harder at Algeria.