Thursday, May 15, 2008

Frequent Wind

I'm keeping the news off, lest I be confronted with more images of human suffering. The random local and national murders aren't much -- cameramen seem to have a hard time getting closeups of such specific carnage. But the bloated rotting bodies in Burma, what's the number? Ten thousand? Thirty thousandsssss? I'm at a point where I can stand the retail chaos. It's wholesale that's starting to get to me. So, with China and its earthquake. Tens of thousands, hundreds -- millions? If not yet, eventually.

That's the planet we live on. Apparently it's not finished yet. A work in progress. Still settling into its foundations. Nothing we can complain about there. It is what it is. The outrage is the human response. I'm not talking about living by the seashore, you know, where tidal waves can get you. Gotta live somewhere. But doesn't China have building codes, that schoolhouses fall down on thousands of children? And as for Burma, with its idiot junta blocking aid, well, that's what hell is for. Eventually. Currently, hell is for imposing on the Burmese by their paranoid dictatorship. Because life isn't quite horrible enough, apparently. No worries. It'll all even out in the end.

As for us, we're really good with building codes. Once when I was a teacher there was an earthquake, and one of my students screamed and leapt into my arms. All the kids were panicky. I hardly noticed it, although it was pretty big. Later I figured out why they were so afraid. All of them were from south of the boarder. See? Down there, an earthquake means the building will fall on you. Here, most likely not. So they're afraid and I'm not. That's a good thing, our codes. It's what government is for -- enforcing community-determined standards of safety. (The courts, contrariwise, seem to be about imposing non-standard definitions of marriage -- per California's Supreme Court ruling today that "gay" "marriage" was a right. But that's another topic.)

My point is that we have to avoid contributing to the evil of the world -- whether from fallen houses or from fell governments. Not a whole lot we're likely to do about Burma. China is too shrewd and powerful. But Iraq is under our control, our administration, and we must act prudently. Otherwise the Dhems will indeed get another Vietnam, as seems to be their fondest wish. A reminder:

Operation Frequent Wind was the evacuation of the Saigon Embassy in 1975. You've seen the pictures, helicopters removing diplomats from rooftops. (What if we'd left them there?) We left the countless Vietnamese allies to fend for themselves, under the stringent mercies of the North Vietnamese fanatic communist fanatics. Unfair? That regime murdered at least 65,ooo of our deluded and abandoned allies, after the, uh, liberation. Up to one half of the entire population was interned in "re-education" concentration camps. How educational. Some remained there for over a decade. Perhaps a quarter of a million people died there, of starvation and disease, or were murdered, or worked to death. Arbeit macht frei.

Poor former non-existent South Vietnam, to trust us. Us. Us. Congress. And with such an example of US betrayal and cowardice, whither the world? Red 1974 dictatorships in Cambodia and Laos and Ethiopia and Guinea Bissau, and in '75, in Madagascar, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola. Afghanistan in 1978 and the next year in Grenada and Nicaragua, and, and ... now it's just on the tip of my tongue ... something about Persia. Another sort of revolution in Persia. It'll come to me.

That thousand deaths they talk about, that a coward dies? No, not quite right. It's other people who do the dying.

We have no prophets, now, to foresee the future. We have intelligence, however, and history, to guide us. What happens when we abandon allies in the field? Blood, blood blood. It doesn't really matter if we don't like the situation we're in. We are bound by the moral commitments made by our leaders -- a downside of democracy. We cannot abandon our adopted children any more than we can those of our bodies. We cannot forsake our friends any more than we can our brothers. And our allies are due the same commitment that we owe to our countrymen, when we have made that commitment.

Iraq can certainly be another Vietnam. Except there was no Vietnam. It was South Vietnam, now no longer extant. As there will be no more Iraq -- it will be Southern Syria, and Northern Iran. Doesn't sound like such a bad thing?

Cambodia, Laos, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, Afghanistan, Grenada, Nicaragua, and ... now, it's just on the tip of my tongue.


No comments: