Today marks the 37th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to a conventional invasion by North Vietnamese forces.
The United States made no effort to intervene despite a signed and ratified mutual defense treaty with the South Vietnamese government.
The Generation which fought and won the Second World War has been (appropriately) memorialized as “The Greatest Generation.” What then of their children, the Baby Boomers?
If we know them by the fruits of their labor, history will not be kind to their memory. Indeed, large segments of the world even now see their impact upon the United States symbolically as the Last Helicopter.
Hassan Abbasi has a dream–a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the “fleeing Americans,” forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by “the Army of Muhammad.” Presented by his friends as “The Dr. Kissinger of Islam,” Mr. Abbasi is “professor of strategy” at the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s new radical administration. For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of “running away,” leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.
Sadly, Abbasi and those of like mind have a historical case to support their position. The litany is certainly long; Vietnam, Mayaguez, Desert One, Beirut, Mogadishu. Yet even so Mr. Taheri is less sure of the strength of that precedent:
The reason was that almost all realized that the 9/11 attacks have changed the way most Americans see the world and their own place in it. Running away from Saigon, the Iranian desert, Beirut, Safwan and Mogadishu was not hard to sell to the average American, because he was sure that the story would end there; the enemies left behind would not pursue their campaign within the U.S. itself. The enemies that America is now facing in the jihadist archipelago, however, are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. as the world knows it today. Those who have based their strategy on waiting Mr. Bush out may find to their cost that they have, once again, misread not only American politics but the realities of a world far more complex than it was even a decade ago. Mr. Bush may be a uniquely decisive, some might say reckless, leader. But a visitor to the U.S. soon finds out that he represents the American mood much more than the polls suggest.
For the sake of both my Republic and the world, I pray that Mr. Taheri’s observation proves more accurate than that of Abbasi.
Rodney G. Graves
first published on Bayosphere 30 April 2006