Is Lebanon Israels Vietnam

Watching the news reports out of Lebanon brings to mind the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. Israeli troops, like U.S. troops, were chased out of the country by enemy forces. Israel's allies, like America's allies in Vietnam, scurried to reach safety before they were imprisoned or executed as traitors.

History supposedly teaches us not to repeat our mistakes. Some historians will say Israel ignored history; others will say Israel had no alternatives.

Twenty-two years ago, Israel sent troops into Lebanon to once and for all stop the bombing of civilian homes in Kiryat Shmona and other towns in northern Israel. Hezbollah guerrillas, supported by Iran and Syria, were driven deeper into southern Lebanon to a point where it became difficult for them to fire rockets across the border.

But over those 22 years, Hezbollah used Israeli troops for target practice. Israeli soldiers were ambushed and their outposts were bombed. More than 900 Israelis were killed.

While Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister, Israelis demanded a Lebanon withdrawal. Parents didn't want to send their sons off to risk death from an enemy that could not be defeated.

During Ehud Barak's campaign, he promised withdrawal would take place within a year after he was elected prime minister. But he also hoped that withdrawal would become part of a broader peace treaty with Syria. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Barak had no choice but to pull the troops out before more were killed.

Where does that put Israel? In the same place as it was 22 years ago. Families in northern Israel will likely be forced into their bomb shelters on a regular basis. Israel will be launching air attacks into Lebanon and possibly close to Syria.

Yes, history can repeat itself. But there is one major difference between Vietnam and southern Lebanon. When the U.S. troops went home, they traveled halfway around the world. Home for Israeli troops is only a few miles away.

Israel's mistake was having such bad neighbors. And it doesn't seem like something that can easily be fixed.