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.

8 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Sapo said...

I am going to be upset about that speech for weeks.

It is awful that he believes the Vietnam War should have been prolonged.

It is sickening that he is now cavalierly commenting on a war that he avoided with his father's help.

It is disgusting that he is blind to the suffering that war causes, and it is appalling that he is now now playing bullshit propaganda games to shore up support for a amazingly counter-productive foreign policy that is accomplishing nothing but mindless death and destruction.


8/25/2007 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Great Summation, M.D.!

REAL HISTORY is provided by Wizbangblue: Bush's

. . . .argument is a popular one among neoconservatives embittered by the disaster in Iraq and seeking to shame the American people into supporting a continuation of this debacle until a Democrat occupies the White House and can be blamed for losing the war. But it is historically inaccurate. . . .

The Vietnam War lasted from 1959 until April 30, 1975 when Saigon fell to invading North Vietnamese forces. The final death toll was estimated at 1.5 million. Another 500,000 were killed in the aftermath of the war. What many people in this country don't understand however is that the Vietnam War and the First Indochina War that preceded it didn't have to happen at all and were only the result of meddling by Western powers in Indochina after World War II.

. . . . our withdrawal from Vietnam was in no way responsible for the killing fields of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge and its predecessors were in existence long before the Vietnam War began heating up. Our intervention in Cambodia did, however, succeed in increasing support among the Cambodian peasantry for the Khmer Rouge. Our savage bombing campaigns drove the enraged populace into the arms of the Khmer Rouge which had never enjoyed widespread support before then. This turned out to be a key factor in the rise of Pol Pot who eventually overthrew the Cambodian government and began the mass slaughter of millions of people.

And we all know who eventually toppled the Khmer Rouge and put an end to the killing fields. Not the Americans. Not the French. Not the British. That's right, it was the Vietnamese Communists who invaded Cambodia and toppled the Khmer Rouge putting an end to that genocidal regime.

. . . . President Bush, because of his ignorance of the actual history of Vietnam, has clearly drawn the wrong conclusions with respect to Iraq. The conclusion we should draw is that civil wars in foreign countries are best settled by the people in those countries themselves. In Vietnam, our meddling greatly extended the conflict and increased the number of casualties on both sides.

On Iraq?

President Bush, because of his ignorance of the actual history of Vietnam, has clearly drawn the wrong conclusions with respect to Iraq. The conclusion we should draw is that civil wars in foreign countries are best settled by the people in those countries themselves. In Vietnam, our meddling greatly extended the conflict and increased the number of casualties on both sides.

In Iraq, we will have the same influence given that we are now arming and organizing Sunni militias which will most likely one day violently engage with the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army and police. By perpetuating our involvement in Iraq, we are only increasing the final death toll of this misguided and unnecessary war that didn't have to happen. There didn't have to be a civil war in Iraq, and there might not have been if we had just allowed events to take their natural course. We don't know what will happen if we leave, but we do know that our continued presence will be a source of conflict for years to come just as it was in Vietnam.

I have excerpted from Wizbangblue. There is more Real history to be found there.

8/25/2007 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

The Vietnamese were horrified with Bush's statement. To them, the war was a continuation of their centuries old struggle for independence from foreign aggressors: first China, then France, and finally the US.

8/25/2007 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Suzie-Q (S-Q) said...

Bush just confirmed once again, with this speech, that he is a total idiot!

8/25/2007 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Ziem said...

That speech had me as pissed off as the "we are going to was with Iraq" one.

There's nothing I can say, M.D. already said it, and quite well I might add.

Sonsabitches, every last one of them.

8/25/2007 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

This war and this president make me sick. In fact, the response of the American people makes me even sicker. As soon as he invoced Vietnam in this way people should have been rioting in the streets, but there was NO visible response. Even the media glossed over it. OUR SOLDIERS ARE DYING. This is serious, people. They are DYING. Do we know what they're dying for? Do we know why we're at war? Do we know when they'll come home? Do we trust that our politicians are doing the right thing? Death is not something we should be turning the other cheek to. I am so disappointed to be an American.

8/26/2007 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Thanks for this post, Emily.

(1) it's important for the record, to record Uncurious George's curious re-opening of the Pandora's Box of the Vietnam Scenario. Now that he has broken it open, he certainly owns it, and because he's not going to be doing any better than he has with anything else. But he needs to be pasted with it with a broad brush.

(2) Rosa Brooks and Larkin's comments have been watershed responses to it.

As far as the comments in this thread, I can associate with all of them, except M.D.'s which seems far, far, far too moderate.

8/26/2007 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger United We Lay said...


8/26/2007 06:37:00 PM  

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