Hillsdale College Symposium Examines the Enduring Significance of the Vietnam War
During a speech last month at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City, President Bush hearkened back to the destructive legacy of self-perpetuated U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War as a warning to those who would effect the same outcome today in Iraq. In doing so, he tapped into a firestorm of criticism, particularly from liberals who were outraged that someone else was using the analogy they themselves have been pushing relentlessly since 9/11.
Indeed, America's military response to the Islamic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 has engendered nothing but opposition from the keepers of the 1960s anti-war movement and their misguided offshoots. And ubiquitous and false comparisons to the Vietnam War "quagmire" has been their modus operandi.
In making an accurate allusion to the Vietnam War, particularly by referencing the frequent statements from al-Qaeda leaders (who also found inspiration in the 1994 U.S. withdrawal from Somalia) hoping for a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and the inevitable slaughter that would occur (as it did in Vietnam and Cambodia) as a result, Bush turned the tables on today's pushers of defeat. As Weekly Standard associate editor Matthew Continetti put it:
It's not because he brought up the lessons of Vietnam. It's because he brought up lessons which the opponents of that war and the current one--who so often seem to be the same people--deem incorrect.The entire episode served to underscore how controversial the Vietnam War remains in the American mind. Its significance, both from a historical and a political standpoint, cannot be emphasized enough.
It is for this reason that Michigan's Hillsdale College will be holding a four-day symposium from Sept. 9-13 titled, "The Vietnam War: History and Enduring Significance." Featuring speakers such as Mark Moyer, the author of "Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965," Colonel H.R. McMaster of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Hoover Institution historian and author Victor Davis Hanson, Lewis Sorley, author of "A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam," conservative author and talk radio host Michael Medved, the New America Foundation's Michael Lind, and Mackubin T. Owens of the Naval War College, the symposium promises to be watershed event.
That it's taking place at Hillsdale College, which has a proud tradition of upholding conservative principles (the college accepts neither federal or state funds) and providing its students with a solid foundation in the tenets of Western Civilization, is particularly fitting. For, unfortunately, it seems that the only unbiased treatment of the Vietnam War being offered up these days emanates from the right side of the American political spectrum.
As someone who has not only been personally affected by the Vietnam War (my mother was an entertainer for the troops in Vietnam [see her documentary EntertainingVietnam.com for more information] and my father, who served with the U.S. Marines in Korea, was working with a civilian company in Vietnam) and a journalist who has striven to provide a relevant reexamination of that pivotal episode in American history (I've written about it here, here, here, and here), I'm pleased to announce that I'll be attending the Hillsdale symposium.
For those interested in an honest examination of America's role on the worldwide stage, both then and now, stay tuned for a forthcoming article on the subject.