When liberals want to argue that Iraq is an unwinnable war they simply raise the specter of Vietnam. But what about Buchananite conservatives who still believe the Vietnam War should have been fought (and could have been won) but who oppose the war in Iraq? To what historic debacle can they compare our current struggle? This question has been answered by Gregory Cochran of the American Conservative, in a word: Spain.
Cochran says that Bush’s war in Iraq has a historic parallel in Napoleon’s horrific invasion of Spain. This comparison is even more absurd than the liberal comparisons with Vietnam. Here’s a shot list of important differences:
1) The war in Spain was nearly two hundred years ago.
2) The French had not only to deal with Spanish Guerillas, but also with British regulars led by Wellington (a fact that Cochran only mentions once, and even then he buried it at the end of his essay).
3) Cochran compares Abu Graib (shameful as it was) to the atrocities depicted by Goya, but there is simply no comparison. Also, the perpetrators of Abu Ghraib are being prosecuted and punished, while the French atrocities were simply French policy.
4) All Napoleon had to offer the Spanish was the leadership of his older brother. We are offering the Iraqis democracy, and the election showed that they are excited about it.
5) While the fight was going on in Spain, Napoleon faced an uprising in Austria and he had an entire army destroyed in his insane invasion of Russia.
6) Cochran unjustly compares the Iraqi National Guard to the worthless Spaniard troops who enlisted with Napoleon and then ran away at first hint of gunpowder. If Cochran would read a newspaper every once in a while he would see that our Iraqi allies are taking significant losses as they improve at beating down insurgents.
7) Also, for the duration of Napoleon’s war in Spain his navy was bottled up and rendered pretty much useless by the British. The best way of moving troops and supplies at the time, the sea, was cut off to Napoleon. America, by contrast, dominates both the sea and the sky.
The list could go on, but I’m bored with this post (and I should probably do some actual work). Please, opponents of the war, I beg you. No more absurd historical comparisons.