Saturday, August 25, 2007

America's next invasion is not Iran but Vietnam?

The Bush administration is not fresh out of ideas!

Perhaps because Bush was AWOL and comatose for the years during and immediately after Vietnam, Bush has been re-learning its lessons via his on-the-job-training as President while putting us all through his stumbling, blundering paces.

What are those lessons?

Rosa Brooks tells us in yesterday's LA Times:
Don't fight needless wars; don't go blundering around in countries where you don't know the language, history or culture; don't underestimate the power of nationalism, ethnicity and religion to bind together -- or tear apart -- people whose interests otherwise seem to diverge or converge; and, most of all, don't imagine that military force can solve fundamentally political problems.

But the president, who has his own very special set of history books, drew the public's attention to some entirely different lessons from Vietnam. To Bush, the "unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens."

Right! To Bush, the tragedy of the Vietnam War is that we didn't let it drag on for another decade or so.
The problem is that Vietnam revisionist historians did not start counting Vietnamese casualties until we were leaving:
Some might quibble with Bush's understanding of historical causation. Yes, many innocent civilians suffered in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam -- but it's more accurate to attribute their suffering to the prolongation of the war itself, rather than to the U.S. withdrawal as such.

It's hard to be precise (as is the case in Iraq today, no one kept careful count of Vietnamese civilian casualties, and all sides in the conflict had an incentive to fudge the true figures), but somewhere between 1 million and 4 million civilians died as the war needlessly dragged on, many killed by U.S. weapons. Millions more were displaced.

But those are details.
Yes, and the Neo-Revisionists of the White House have done somersaults with history: The withdrawal from Vietnam emboldened our enemies! Brooks details the logic so that it's "blindingly clear" for us:
Step 1: In 1975, the Vietnam War ended and young Osama bin Laden, age 18, saw that the mighty U.S. could be brought low and that an unhappy citizenry could push a democratically elected government to end an unpopular war.

Step 2: This step is a little tougher. Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11. Then Bin Laden, bearing the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam constantly in mind, um . . . somehow tricked us into going to war in Iraq . . . where Al Qaeda had no presence prior to the U.S. invasion . . . because he knew we'd make a mess of things . . . and that Al Qaeda could move in while we were bogged down fighting insurgents . . . and bog us down even more?

And from there, we easily reach Step 3: We are stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, just as in Vietnam! Millions of civilians are paying the price for U.S. over-reaching -- just as in Vietnam! Our credibility is suffering -- just as in Vietnam! The American public has lost faith in the war -- just as in Vietnam! Bin Laden is happy to see us brought low -- just as in Vietnam! If we leave, more bad things may happen, and Bin Laden will also be happy -- just as in Vietnam!

Step 4: Therefore, as the president explained Wednesday, we must stay in Iraq forever, until every last terrorist or every last Iraqi civilian is dead, whichever comes first.
I'm sure it's clear to everyone what Brooks thinks is step 5. Of course it's to undo the mistake we made in Vietnam!
How can we show the innocent civilians of Southeast Asia that we haven't forgotten them and simultaneously send a message of resolve to the Iraqi people? How can we show Al Qaeda once and for all that the U.S. is not to be trifled with?
We have to re-Invade Vietnam. Because no matter what they say -- it's never too late to repeat the mistakes of the past.