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Will we never learn? 

It has been said repeatedly that those who fail to learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes, so here we are again. I remember the 1970s, the shameful ending of the Vietnam War, the loss of American credibility, the inflation, gas lines, and endless prognostications of environmental doom. If you haven't noticed, it's beginning to feel like familiar ground.

In 1972, the communist North Vietnamese launched a major conventional offensive, attempting to conquer our South Vietnamese ally by brute force using tanks, artillery, and hundreds of thousands of troops crossing the northern and western borders. It was harrowing at first but eventually the president unleashed American air power and the communist offensive was smashed, so much so that we might have decisively defeated them if our forces were not halted by our secretary of state's desire to have a diplomatic solution. That isn't my version but post-war comments made by communist generals mystified as to why we didn't finish them off when we had the chance.

In 1974 the American Congress reflected an overwhelming Democrat and anti-war victory. Their first order of business was to cut off all military support to South Vietnam, even when the North launched another offensive on March 30, 1975. President Ford pleaded with Congress to allow him to intervene but Congress refused. On April 30, 1975, a chaotic evacuation of South Vietnamese ensued as communist tanks smashed through the gates of the South Vietnamese Presidential Palace, ending the war by brute force. In Cambodia, the communist Khmer Rouge completed their conquest and proceeded to empty the cities of people, forcing millions into the countryside for forced labor. The Khmer Rouge were ideological fanatics, paranoid, ignorant, suspicious of intellectuals, and vicious—wearing eye glasses could get you executed on the spot. Over a four-year period they executed nearly 2 million of the country's 5 million inhabitants.

America wasn't in a particularly happy place at that time; inflation was building as were interest rates. Interest rates climbed to more than 20 percent, and inflation hit around 15 percent annually. Inflation was eventually curbed in the 1980s by harsh economic policy and a lot of economic pain for years. In the meantime, the Arabs were quite angry with us for our support of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, nearly lost by Israel after a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria. Israel considered using nuclear weapons to halt the Arab offensive but the president ordered a massive resupply of the Israeli military, enabling them to defeat the Arab armies in the nick of time. Arab nations retaliated, quadrupling the price of oil overnight; gas went to 50 cents a gallon in short order; some thought it might even hit a dollar a gallon. Yes, those were the good old days, if we only knew it. Gas was briefly rationed, block-long gas lines formed and fights broke out at gas stations.

In 1979, an Islamic revolution swept America's ally, Iran, expelling the Shah of Iran and seizing the American Embassy. Sixty-plus American diplomats were blindfolded and held hostage for over a year. A rescue attempt by American commandos spectacularly failed as the rescue force was unable to reach Tehran; a deadly crash at a rendezvous point left eight Americans dead. The hostages remained in captivity for nearly another year.

Twenty years after a catastrophic attack on New York and Washington, we observe the fruits of a failed national strategy with nearly 10,000 military and civilian dead. At home we panic over imagined natural catastrophes that haven't happened, ignoring natural history while taking counsel of our fears. Drought plagues the Southwest again as populations have doubled and fools continue to develop unsustainable locales. Did you know that in 1861-62 an "atmospheric river" dumped extraordinary amounts of rain on California, flooding the California Central Valley to a depth of 20 feet from Redding to Riverside County? The inland sea was 300 miles long and 70 miles wide. No greenhouse gas was required. It was followed by a drought that finished off the Spanish Rancho system. Geological records indicate this type of weather is the norm for the Southwest along with prolonged drought, sometimes decades in duration.

Our political leaders today are cooking up schemes to bankrupt the Republic, spending trillions of dollars we don't have, which Democrats claim will cost nothing. Inflation reminiscent of the 1970s looms with gas prices approaching $5 a gallon, as Biden dismantles the energy sector of the economy. Democrats are proposing enormous tax increases on the middle and working classes, about $2,000 or more a year per family, adding 80,000 IRS agents to harass small businesses.

The southern border has collapsed as 2 million migrants are expected this year and endless more next year. Our civil liberties are threatened as speech is censored by non-accountable tech companies, and parents are told it's not their place to determine what their children are taught in school. Yet, we continue to reelect the same, self-appointed "anointed ones" to office. We haven't learned anything. Δ

Al Fonzi had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Respond with a letter to the editor emailed to [email protected].

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