You know, probably the main reason me and a lot of other people now old enough for AARP were “prematurely anti-Shock’n’Awe” is that we remembered what happened when America decided to get involved in an (unwinnable) war with a distant (much less powerful) nation for vague Realpolitickal excuses. I googled ‘Vietnam Syndrome”; the second entry was the Urban Dictionary:
A view held largely by American conservatives that the “loss” of the Vietnam War has created an American public biased against any type of American military conflict.
They argue that bad memories of the Vietnam War (scandals, protests, riots, images of killed/wounded soldiers and civilians, etc.) have caused the American people to distrust any type of war at all. As a result, it is argued, any attempt by the United States to engage in a military conflict will be viewed by the American people as “another Vietnam.”
The third entry was Marvin Kalb at the Brookings Institute, just this January:
It had never really left—what was widely referred to as the “Vietnam syndrome”–but it has now returned unmistakably, certain to exercise a major influence on American foreign policy during President Barack Obama’s second term in office. It is the belief, born of brutal experience during the Vietnam War, that never again will the United States gradually tiptoe into questionable wars without a clearcut objective, overwhelming military force, an endgame strategy and, most important, the support of Congress and the American people. In today’s world of terrorist threat and guerrilla war, the Vietnam syndrome means, if nothing else, a fundamental reluctance to commit American military power anywhere in the world, unless it is absolutely necessary to protect the national interests of the country. The Vietnam syndrome is a giant step away from hard-edged policies, such as President George W. Bush’s adventurous plunge into Iraq in 2003, and toward softer-edged policies, such as President Obama has pursued in his measured anti-Qaddafi approach to the Libyan revolution and his careful, arms-length-away attitude to the complicated mess in Syria….
Why the flying fuck would this be a bad idea? Because not throwing American lives away, not destroying foreign nations and distant people, not wasting trillions of dollars desperately needed for more productive uses, not being willing to “pick up some crappy little country and throw it against a wall just to prove we’re serious” will threaten Michael Ledeen’s self-perceived manliness?
Could we just pass a law guaranteeing every neocon a free lifetime supply of boner pills, and spend the remaining two trillion dollars on rebuilding stuff (here at home, and in the rest of the world) rather than breaking more shit?