09/11/2007 05:43 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraq and Vietnam: A Simple Equation

It seems to me that the Iraqi situation is a relatively straightforward repeat of our Vietnam dilemma -- namely, just the way our soldiers served as the only security upholding a series of corrupt South Vietnamese regimes over a decade, our troops in Iraq have been the only force propping up a series of venal Iraqi governments now for five years. In both cases, we hoped that these administrations would gain public backing, but found them to be failures. In the end, our country has to decide, just as we did in Vietnam, whether we are going to continue to send our men and women, our military and infrastructure resources, and our tax dollars to keep this ineffectual Iraqi rule going -- or whether, like a bad poker hand, we finally throw the cards in and leave the game, and allow the tribal forces on the ground to come to their own settlement.

The American people have spoken repeatedly through regular polling data that they want us to leave -- not precipitously, but nonetheless with dispatch. However, the hearings in Congress over the last two days does not give one much confidence that this message is getting through. By next year, under the Bush/Petraeus plan, indeed, we'll have absolutely the same number of troops in Iraq by next summer as we have had for the past years. In other words -- absent the surge extras -- we are back where we started and another year will have passed, more lives lost, more Iraqis displaced, more mayhem in the streets, more waste of US assets. Despite Bush's standing at 28% in the polls, it appears unlikely Congress will do anything to change his Iraqi policy (unlike what it did about Vietnam) leaving him as mastermind for the next 17 months. This is a wrenching outcome.