The more things change, the more they stay the same.
President Obama’s justifications for an indefinite global war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) echo the reasons elaborated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in April and July of 1965 for the Vietnam War — all of which proved wrong or wrongheaded.
The Vietnam War proved an obscene debacle. More than 58,000 lives of brave American soldiers were squandered in an adolescent pursuit by the U.S. government of domination for the sake of domination. The United States is now committed to defending its former enemy against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
Mr. Obama’s choice to echo LBJ’s Vietnam War ambitions and plans in warring against ISIS is like West Point invoking Gen. George Custer’s defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn as worthy of emulation.
But staggering stupidity and stupendous incompetence are earmarks of the Obama administration. Among other things, its strategy for defeating ISIS pivots on the falsehood that Saudi Arabia shares a long border with Syria.
Johnson mendaciously declared that we were fighting in Vietnam for universal self-determination indispensable to freedom in the United States.
Self-determination was crushed in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 by the Soviet Union with no jeopardy to United States independence. When North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam in 1975, freedom in the United States was undisturbed. Indeed, within a short 16 years the Soviet Union had disintegrated and the United States was the most secure nation in the history of mankind.
Moreover, we undermined self-determination in South Vietnam. We were complicit in the military overthrow and assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, and were complacent with military rule and fraud-riddled elections thereafter.
Like LBJ, Mr. Obama insists we are fighting ISIS to defend Iraq’s right to self-determination and to prevent an ISIS attack on the United States.
We are fighting to uphold an oppressive sectarian Shiite regime in Iraq and against the right of self-determination by Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds. And any insinuation that ISIS would not be instantly crushed if it threatened U.S. sovereignty is insulting to the courage and unsurpassed skills of America’s armed forces.
LBJ sermonized that the United States was fighting in Vietnam because it was saddled with the responsibility for defending freedom everywhere on the planet — a formula for perpetual global warfare. Mr. Obama similarly justifies the war against ISIS as mandated by the general U.S. responsibility for world order like a schoolmarm in a classroom.
LBJ boasted that the people of the United States would never grow tired of war in Vietnam even if it endured for an additional five, six or seven years. The United States would never be defeated.
Americans did grow tired of a war in which the light at the end of the tunnel was an optical illusion. The United States was defeated. But no dominoes fell. Mr. Obama explains that the war against ISIS will be indefinite. It will far outlive his administration. He boasts the United States will destroy ISIS.
The American people will not support endless war at staggering cost on behalf of non-moderate sectarian Iraqis or Syrians with no allegiance to the United States and antagonistic toward Israel. ISIS will not be destroyed. Yet our sovereignty will remain as indestructible as the Rock of Gibraltar.
LBJ preached that the Vietnam War was necessary to prevent Communist China from dominating all of Asia.
A few years after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, China attacked Vietnam in 1979 and was sharply rebuffed. Communist China has refrained from attacking any other nation.
Mr. Obama argues that ISIS will mushroom from a regional to a global (or even interplanetary) threat if we do not destroy it forthwith.
ISIS is clueless as to how to construct as opposed to how to destroy and kill. It was born of common hatreds toward dictatorial, sectarian rulers in Iraq and Syria. ISIS would self-destruct amid internecine hatreds and lusts for power if it ever came to rule over a defined territory and peoples.
All of LBJ’s wrongheaded thinking that occasioned the Vietnam War calamity has been repeated by Mr. Obama as regards ISIS.
His administration is ignorant of history, which invites repetition.
As LBJ is more remembered for Vietnam than his civil rights landmarks, Mr. Obama will be more remembered for his war follies than for Obamacare.