George Bush is about to travel to Viet Nam with a contingent of 200 business leaders, on the occasion of Viet Nam's probable admission to the World Trade Organization. He will be attending the Asia Pacific Economic forum. Viet Nam hopes to showcase it's emerging economy at this meeting: we're ready to join the Asian tigers Bush has already met with Viet Namese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.
It is 2006. In 1973, the U.S.-backed government of South Viet Nam collapsed and the U.S. army fled. Millions of refugees got into boats and ended up in refugee camps. Many were admitted to the U.S. The communist government of North Viet Nam unified the country and established a dictatorship. The U.S. went on it's way to try to mess up Central America as much as possible, before watching the communist government of Russia implode (thanks largely to their disastrous attempt to foist a communist government on Afghanistan, leading to the triumph of the Taliban).
An objective person could be excused for wondering if there are lessons to be learned. In both cases, Afghanistan and Viet Nam, attempts to impose a friendly government (friendly to Russia, France or the U.S.) on a foreign nation conflicted with the nation's own sense of identity and independence, and hostile political groups were able to take advantage and establish themselves as the representative of nationalist aspirations. The determination of the occupied to expel the occupiers was beyond the wildest imagination of the invader. Both Russia and the U.S. thought that superior technology and military might would, in the end, triumph.
What if the U.S. had decided, in 1963, to just leave Viet Nam alone? What if the Soviet Union had decided, in 1979, to just leave Afghanistan alone? (Well, what if the Americans, who were funding the mujahideen, who later became the Taliban, who later became Osama Bin Laden, had just minded their own business in Afghanistan as well?)
And what if America had just stayed out of Iraq?
I think some generals already have come to the conclusion that as long as the U.S. remains in Iraq, they will be the focal point of opposition, and the opposition is always going to be led by the people most hostile to U.S. values and policies.
George Bush and his Republican apologists have been fond of saying that you couldn't just leave Saddam in power. Well, you couldn't just leave Viet Nam. And you couldn't just not invade Cuba. And you couldn't just not give military aid to the opponents of the Sandinistas. And so on, and so on. Time and time again, history shown that these kind of grand schemes almost never work out.
Time and time again, the militarists are proven wrong by history, and proven right by their own delusions: they are always ready to enter a new quagmire.