During the 20th century, the United States was involved in five major conflicts: World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and the first Gulf War.
World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles, which included heavily punitive measures and ruinous reparations against Germany. The dissatisfaction of the German people was a major factor in the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement less than a decade later.
World War II ended with the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan, and both countries were occupied while they were rebuilt into functional, successful democracies that are now two of our greatest allies.
The Korean War ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire that was never followed with a permanent treaty. Thus fifty years later we still have two nations still at war glaring at each other across a heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, occasionally exchanging minor skirmishes.
The Viet Nam War ended with the Paris Peace Accords, which ended the fighting between the North and South and included a rigid timetable for US forces to withdraw. Barely two years after the Accords were signed and US forces withdrew, North Vietnam invaded and conquered South Vietnam.
The first Gulf War ended with Iraq’s accepting the United Nations’ terms of surrender and agreeing to considerable restrictions to assure they would not initiate hostilities at any time in the near future. There were some reparations and economic sanctions, but the main focus was on stripping Saddam of his most potent offensive weaponry — including his rather extensive stocks of biological and chemical weapons and his nuclear research, covering the N-B-C trifecta of “weapons of mass destruction.”
That brings us to today, and our second major conflict of the 21st century (what I like to refer to as “the Iraq campaign of the War on Terror.”) Of the five resolutions to war listed above, which most closely resembles the left’s plan for ending matters?
The Viet Nam model is the plan you follow when you are losing, or expecting to lose, or don’t care if you win or lose, or don’t have the will to win. It is the international equivalent of saying “I cared enough to fight for a while, but no more. It’s not my concern any more.”
The North Vietnamese knew when they signed the Paris Accords that they had merely postponed their victory, and made it easier on whole orders of magnitude. We spelled out exactly when we would be leaving, and what we would do if they resumed the fight. All they had to do was wait for the right balance of factors between their own preparedness and the weakness of the South’s government, and then strike without fear of our intervening again. Less than two years later, that plan came to fruition, and the Paris Peace Accords were unmasked as the patently bogus fraud they were from the instant they were signed.
The key to ending a war is to either make it impossible or unnecessary or too damned costly to resume the hostilities. And when the terms of ending that war are marked on a calendar, and not by events or conditions, then all it does is make the resumption of the war a matter of marking the appropriate dates on the calendar.