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Burying some hatchets

I've been sitting on this general idea for some time now, and I think it's overdue for a public airing.

The War On Terror has had some huge affects on the globe in the five short years it's been officially recognized and fought. (Yes, i agree it started a long time ago. I tend to mark the starting date of the US involvement as the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis; others put the 1972 Munich Olympics, and others argue for still other dates. It's an endlessly arguable point.) Since then, we have helped to overthrow two brutal regimes and made great strides towards helping their people establish free, representative democracies. We have put many of our traditional allies to the test -- and found some wanting. And some long-time enemies have been found to be new friends.

With that in mind, I think it might be time to look at a couple of other old enemies, and re-evaluate our stance towards them.

For decades, Muammar Qadaffi and Libya have been a major sponsor of terrorism. They have admitted their role in the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, which killed 270 people. They also bombed a disco in Germany, killing two US servicemen and a Turkish woman. He has also provided funding, training, and other forms of support for all sorts of terrorist organizations for decades. We've had several military skirmishes with Libya, including bombing the country after the disco attack.

But in recent years, Qadaffi has moved away from his past deeds. He shocked the world when he announced Libya had advanced nuclear and chemical weapons research programs -- and had turne the whole things, lock stock, and barrel, over to the United States. He has formally acknowledged his role in the Pan Am bombing, and offered reparations to the victims' families totalling $2.7 billion dollars. He's denounced Al Qaeda repeatedly and forcefully.

Now, I think it's more than fair to say that Qadaffi didn't so much see the light as feel the heat, but regardless of his motives, these are serious steps towards reconciling with the world of civilized nations.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam has made tremendous economic strides in the past few decades. While still nominally communist, capitalism is exploding. And where economic freedom takes root, political freedom usually follows.

Our history with Viet Nam is an odd one. We fought them in a long, bloody war, finally ended with a peace treaty that led to our withdrawal -- and was promptly trashed by them, as the North invaded and finally conquered our allies in the South, subjecting the entire nation to communist tyranny.

But since we lost the war, we've won the peace -- sort of. They have learned the hard way the utterly absymal, soul-shredding, tyrannical, doomed to failure ways of communism, and have rejected all but its most superficial trappings in favor of economic freedom and the democracy of a free market. They are one of the most rapidly developing economies in one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and we continue our freezing-out at our own peril.

This is not an easy argument for me to make. For many people, the wounds inflicted by these two nations run deep. Many people still remember the days of the Viet Nam war (especially when they're looking to attack the current war in Iraq), and are still very angry over it. And the families of those killed in Libya's terrorist attacks live with the loss of their loved ones every single day, and no amount of money can ever heal those wounds.

It's time for a little realpolitik, however. With regards to Libya, they have made the traditional gestures of a nation-state to atone for their past misdeeds. They have surrendered the parties directly involved in the crimes, they have publicly acknowledged their role in the attack, and offered financial recompense for the victims. There really isn't much else we can ask of Libya, and there isn't much we can do to bring Qadaffi to justice short of invading Libya -- and that just ain't going to happen.

Further, Libya spent decades sponsoring and helping terrorists. They most likely have huge troves of intelligence and information that would be of tremendous use to us. Getting our hands on that material could make a major difference in our understanding of terrorism, as well as more concrete data on such specifics as names, organizations, networks, and how they receive their support.

As far as Viet Nam goes, quite frankly we need all the friends in that area as we can get. And if friendship is out of the question (I think it is, for at least a decade or so), a bit more grudging tolerance would go a great way towards countering China's intent of regional dominance. Also, as I noted above, Viet Nam's economy is going gangbusters. They've pretty much gotten over the hard feelings from the war, and would be eager consumers of our goods. (I don't see a great demand for Authentic Vietnamese Products in the US any time soon, though.) A few gestures towards economic reconciliation (and, perhaps, some military pacts -- we've already had one warship pay a port call back during the Clinton administration) could be a great advantage in that part of the world, one where we've had almost no presence in decades.

Viet Nam is also relatively close to the Philippines and Malaysia, two countries struggling with Islamist terrorist threats.

This will not be an easy course to follow. As I said, there are still a lot of hard feelings towards Libya and Viet Nam, and those feelings are quite justified. But we have bigger fish to fry right now -- the threats posed by those nations are long past, while the dangers of militant Islam are front and center.

And in that war, we can certainly use every ally, every advantage, every edge we can get.

Comments (30)

Since closer ties are alrea... (Below threshold)

Since closer ties are already happening with these countries, I'm not quite sure what new thing you are arguing for, or why you think it is controversial. For example, here is a recent article about closer military ties with Vietnam:


Something to consider:... (Below threshold)

Something to consider:

WE did not lose Viet-Nam. We sustained no major blow to our nation, militarily speaking...

SOUTH Viet Nam lost that war. The country, and culture, ceased to exist.

Very true, what if you made... (Below threshold)

Very true, what if you made the 'supposed' enemy- Iraq of Afghanistan or Muslims your ally? Then we would be friends and there would be no war. The war should be with 'particualr' evil people and not with everybody. Good to see that we agree that we all need to be friends and allies.

Yogimus ,It is ver... (Below threshold)

Yogimus ,

It is very sick. You sound happy that you destroyed people. Isn't that sad? Get a life.

He does not sound happy to ... (Below threshold)

He does not sound happy to Me. just sober.

MU,North Vietnam des... (Below threshold)

North Vietnam destroyed South Vietnam.
The US pulling out is what allowed it to happen. It's the same reason we can't pull out of Iraq until Iraq is ready to fend off internal AND external threats.
Iraq and Afghanistan were never the enemy, Saddam's Baathist regime, the Taliban and al Queda were (and still are).

Hold your friends close, an... (Below threshold)

Hold your friends close, and your enemies closer

I was in Libya in March and... (Below threshold)

I was in Libya in March and the nation in general appeared to want to "get back in the game" with the US. No hostility, just a smattering of "American Agression" posters from a bygone era (more of a relic, really), and a few women with modern Western attire.

In my hotel there were lots of business-persons from all over the world doing "deals".

Curious, friendly, and tired of the old way... Yep, could be a new ally with LOTS of oil...

I agree with Jay on the Lib... (Below threshold)

I agree with Jay on the Libya issue, they seemed to change their ways very quickly and I have no doubt it was to avoid being next.

what if you made the 'su... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

what if you made the 'supposed' enemy- Iraq of Afghanistan or Muslims your ally?


To point out the glaringly obvious, but just what the hell do you think is going on now? The new governments and countries of Iraq and Afghanistan are our friends. They are no longer under the brutal regimes and thugs of Saddam, the Taliban or al Qaeda who repressed, tortured and often murdered the very Muslims they claimed to be protecting in the name of Allah. This war is NOT against Muslims or the peoples of Iraq or Afghanistan, but the radical and fascist Muslims within your midst who have brought a decidedly unholy war to the world in the name of all Muslims.

As a matter of fact, Yogimus should be happy--as you should, too--that people like Zarqawi have been wiped off the face of the earth or captured like Khleid Sheik Mohammad or put to trial (why, I don't know) like Saddam for their crimes against all humanity, including Muslims.

And finally, for good in the world there is evil. There cannot be one without the other or there would be no sense of right and wrong. It is philosophical and moral contradiction to say evil does not exist.

Rightwing slime machine kic... (Below threshold)

Rightwing slime machine kicks into high gear as the wingnuts over at the Powerline blog slime the family of one of the dead GIs slaim by AlQaeda in Iraq. Sickening.

I challenge all of you true blue republicans to call these jingos at Powerline out and reject their Ann Coulter style attacks on the families of those killed by terrorists.

I've read Powerline and don... (Below threshold)

I've read Powerline and don't come away with your interpretation at all. Maybe DFL stands for "Dumb F**king Liberal", eh? Just a thought.

Thanks DFL for posting some... (Below threshold)

Thanks DFL for posting something completely unrelated to the current discussion. Hell, it's not even about something on this blog. Stay on topic, or stfu.

DFL is monkeying something ... (Below threshold)

DFL is monkeying something he read on KOS and didn't bother to check it out himself. It would be hard for anyone to be offended by the entry on Powerline.

But should we care if an uncle is offended? I think not. It is the soldier who voluntarily enlisted who sacrificed for his country, NOT the uncle who stayed at home. Clearly, "innocence by association" is not a reasonable way to deflect criticism of your words.

Just another attempt by the... (Below threshold)

Just another attempt by the liberals to trot out an "unassailable" source for quotes, just like the 'Jersey Girls'. Ann was right.

Yogimus is correct that the South lost the war, but it was *ONLY* after the '74 Anti-War Congress in the US defunded them.

Gmac is right on. DFL just ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Gmac is right on. DFL just tried to prove Coulter 's point. She was so accurate about liberals that they keep proving her point.

"dangers of militant Islam"... (Below threshold)
Drew E:

"dangers of militant Islam" ...yep North Korea is no threat..keep your eyes on Iran..(after all in 5 years they may also have nuke capibility and a missile that can reach the U.S.)...of course the billions we have spent on "missile defense" ......

Just wondering...how old we... (Below threshold)
Drew E:

Just wondering...how old were you "experts" on Viet Nam in 1969 when I enlisted? C'mon.. for once no BS... At 19 no U.S. male was thinking about "moving away from home" "college" "family" "girlfriend" ..what to download to our ipod or video game ...it was about the DRAFT...so please kiddies don't talk to me about Viet Nam ....I deserve no respect for "joining"...I deserve no respect for "serving" I deserve no respect for being a disabled vet..but i am waiting for someone here to simply post "I enlisted today" ....anyone under 40 can you know...go buy some more twinkies and ask your mother if supper is ready yet....but don't pretend you know anything about who won or lost in Viet Nam ...if you want to know who lost go to D.C. and rub your fingers across the names.

Drew, I don't know ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

I don't know whether you know that the US military now is voluntary. You may (or may not be drafted during the VN war). That 's the difference.
Anyway, we now have VN as an object lesson on the despicable hypocrisy of the left and the bloody consequence of their cut-and-run policy. That 's the fact.
Many members of my extended family died battles and re-education camps (thanks to the left) in VN.

You are right again about Ann Coulter 's point that people like Murtha and Kerry deserve no respect simply because they served in VN. They are disgraceful.

Drew, you are a prime examp... (Below threshold)

Drew, you are a prime example of why foot soldiers are generally NOT experts on military tactics or history. I don't actually believe you ever put on the uniform, but even if you did, it is irrelevant to any expertise about the Vietnam war. In fact, you have offered no reasoned opinion and said nothing important at all.

Republican wight wing nut o... (Below threshold)

Republican wight wing nut on Powerline attacks the families of the fallen. That is sick It is twisted. It is a black eye for all republicans.

The nutcase over there says, "In a sick coda, Menchaca's uncle, Ken MacKenzie, appeared on the Today show and recited weirdly inapplicable Democratic Party talking points in relation to his own nephew's death...No shame."

It is he who has no shame and no class and no clue.

The right wing nutcase at P... (Below threshold)
Gus Moore:

The right wing nutcase at Powerline also failed to demonstrate on what the uncle said are "democratic party talking points." I thinik that guy listens to too much Rush or Hannity. He suffers from their disease. These sick freaks think everyone they disagree with is a democratic talking point or a liberal conspiracy. I don't know how they function given their stupidity and paranoia.

Thanks for the tour of some... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the tour of some of the US military adventures during the last few decades.
Why no mention of the US support of the IRA campaign of terror against the UK?
US citizens poured thousands of dollars into the into the IRA so that it could destroy and maim my countrymen - men, women, children and even some horses for God's sake.
9/11 came and many members of the New York Fire Department lost their lives. Two weeks later a dinner was held to raise funds for the bereaved. The guest of honour was Gerry Adams.
Do you people like kicking your friends in the teeth or what?

Please don't infer that I a... (Below threshold)
Drew E:

Please don't infer that I agree with the cross dressing Ann (yes he/she does have that adams apple and does not date)If he/she is your hero that is fine. If she nurtures you shemale fantasy that is fine. My comments only refer to me. Ann feeds to the KKK young white male frustration. Her comments toward the widows of 9/11 ...you know the 9/11 Bush always talks about..can appeal to only those who want someone else to agree with them...(by the way link one picture or article involving a man in her life? If she is so hot c'mon?)

Gus, why the hell are you l... (Below threshold)

Gus, why the hell are you lambasting the PowerLine guys here? They don't post here. I doubt they even read this stuff.

Besides, if you scroll down a little, you might see Paul discussing the very same story. Why not go down there and discuss the matter where it's actually GERMANE?


The liberal posters on this... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

The liberal posters on this thread have shown again their despicable behavior. Two US soldiers were tortured and killed by the terrorists. They couldn't muster an ounce of anger towards the terrorists. Their first instinct is to blame powerline, Bush, rep. Just compared to their reaction to Haditha, Gitmo etc... These people don't seem to be angry at the terrorists at all.

It is predictable and sad.

Drew, why do you have to fo... (Below threshold)

Drew, why do you have to focus on Ann Coulter's physical appearance and alleged characteristics, and not on what she says? Gee, could it be because you can't refute her points, and instead need to desperately go after her personally. Kinda reminds me of the old "shooting the messenger" bit...


Drew, You refuted y... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

You refuted your very own point. What is so special about the 9/11 widows? Their husbands died at the hands of the terrorists. What did they do? Tried to blame Bush and took advantage of the opportunity to become a celebrity and a Dem campaign tool? This is despicable in my humble opinion again.

BTW, the Vietnam vets deser... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

BTW, the Vietnam vets deserve a lot more respect than these opportunistic 9/11 widows.

Jay, fifty years from now y... (Below threshold)

Jay, fifty years from now you might be saying the same thing about the Iranians,and the North Koreans. But I know who you won't be saying we should bury the hatchet with; the Palestinians.

When are we going to have some "realpolitik" with them? And wouldn't that go a long way in solving some of our problems in that region?






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