Americans have a very poor sense of history – even recent U.S. history.

It’s time for a quickie review of recent U.S. wars to prevent another disastrous mistake in foreign policy concerning Iraq.

Let’s start with Korea.

U.S. forces, under the United Nations flag, fought gallantly to beat back a Communist Chinese invasion of South Korea. But the U.S. stopped short of invading North Korea and accepted the standoff at the 38th parallel that still divides the two countries to this day. Acceptance of the Communist tyranny in North Korea set up the situation that exists today – the continuing threat of invasion of the south, the deaths of millions in the north from starvation, a nuclear threat to the U.S. and allies, and the establishment of what has been accurately described by President Bush as a pillar in the “axis of evil,” a nation that supports terrorism and supplies weapons of mass destruction to America’s enemies.

It wasn’t the worst debacle in recent American history, since South Korea remains free and prosperous, but the failure to achieve decisive victory has created long-term problems not only for the U.S. but for North Koreans and the rest of the free world.

Can anyone even suggest today that the costs of decisive victory would not have been worth it?

Then came Vietnam. The U.S. fought a long, bloody war with no clear objective, no effort at decisive victory over the Communist aggressors in North Vietnam, against support by China as well as Russia. Ultimately, Americans tired of the stalemate and the war became increasingly unpopular. After the U.S. withdrew from South Vietnam, the Democratic Congress pulled the plug on military support of the free people in the south, leading to the fall of Saigon and encouraging more Communist aggression throughout Southeast Asia. The result? A holocaust of unimaginable proportions in South Vietnam and Cambodia – millions dead. People who were courted to trust the U.S. were betrayed.

Can anyone even suggest today that the costs of decisive victory would not have been worth it?

Grenada was a different story. The U.S. used overwhelming force to topple a Communist tyrant in the island nation and to chase out Cuban troops who were building a military airstrip. Today, Grenada is free. It also represented the beginning of the end of the Cold War – the first time America fought back and rolled back the Communist threat through the use of its military.

Can anyone even suggest today that the costs of decisive victory were not worth it?

Then came the Persian Gulf War. The U.S. used overwhelming force to achieve a limited military objective – chasing Iraqi invaders from Kuwait. But the U.S. withdrew before toppling the regime of the man who led the invasion, Saddam Hussein. It meant the U.S. would have to fight another day.

Can anyone even suggest today that the costs of decisive victory would not have been worth it?

And that brings us to the current Iraq war. The stated goal was regime change because of the threat Iraq posed as a supporter of terrorism and a developer of weapons of mass destruction. That part of the war couldn’t have gone any better. Saddam Hussein’s forces were beaten in a matter of days. Later, when terrorists flocked from all over the world to make Iraq a place of showdown with U.S. forces, Washington set rules of engagement that turned soldiers into policemen. In many ways, Iraq did become another Vietnam as a result.

Now it appears a Democratic Congress is on the verge of ensuring the worst of U.S. history repeats itself. Victory over the terrorists killing Iraqis and U.S. troops is no longer even considered an option. It has become a question of how quickly U.S. forces can be withdrawn. It’s hard to imagine how Iraq will ever be perceived in history as anything but a victory for America’s enemies.

Can anyone even suggest today that the costs of decisive victory would not have been worth it?

The overall lesson?

The U.S. military should never be used unless decisive victory is the goal.

No more American blood should be spilled in vain.

We should not ask foreigners to side with us and trust us unless we are prepared to stand beside them and lead them to victory and a better way of life.

America’s national interest is never served by fighting politically correct wars – wars with rules of engagement that place us in positions of tentative indecision and defensiveness.

Related special offer:

“Don’t Tread on Me: A 400-Year History of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting”

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