Monday, October 16, 2006


Talk of Dishonor

We have been here before. May we never act again as we did then.

Over at The Corner, Michael Rubin retells a story told by David Frum in his history of the 1970s:

In his history of the 1970s, my colleague David Frum relates the story of Sirik Matak, whom the US embassy in Phnom Penh offered to evacuate as the Khmer Rouge closed in on the city. Matak refused, writing this letter to the US ambassador. It should be a must read for the “abandon Iraq” crowd:

Dear Excellency and Friend,

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on this spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we all are born and must die. I have only committed the mistake of believing you.

The Khmer Rouge shot Matak in the stomach. He took three days to die.

If we abandon the friends of liberty in Iraq and elsewhere, what we surrender will greatly outlast whatever duration of mayhem and violence our retreat would provoke. We would slink backwards towards the paltry and tin-cheap legacy of prior days.

There will be no dishonor for our onetime friends, who after all, “only committed the mistake of believing [the US].”

The same could not be said for we who leave, nor would we deserve to “find happiness under this sky.”

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