Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Monday, August 27

More on Bush's Iraq-Vietnam Comparison

Cross-posted at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog:

I commented before on Bush's analogy of Iraq to Vietnam in a speech before the VFW last week, asserting that:
[O]ne unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps,’ and ‘killing fields.’
The best reactions I think I've seen came not from professional pundits but from seven pithy letters to the editors of the New York Times, published on Saturday, which essentially noted that:
1. Iraq has added painful vocabulary terms of its own, like "Abu Ghraib" and "I.E.D."

2. It's hypocritical to evoke Vietnam now, after warnings of a Vietnam-like quagmire were ignored before going to war in Iraq.

3. Bush's declaration that a free Iraq "is within reach" is "not that much removed from Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s 'Peace is at hand' remark, and we know how many more lives were lost needlessly after that statement."

4. The appropriate comparison is not to the aftermath of Vietnam but "the flawed policies that led us to these battles in the first place."

5. Bush's "deeply flawed thinking invites the question: Why didn’t [Bush] step up and go?"

6. Bush's "contorted and inaccurate" analogy invites the critical question of "how long we Americans will accept this level of dishonesty from our president."

7. Perhaps Bush will recall that "after we left Vietnam, none of the predicted dominoes fell and Vietnam became a tourist destination welcoming Americans."
Of course, implicit in Bush's analogy to Vietnam is the notion that the United States could have "won" that conflict if only it had stayed the course. This is a blatant revision of history that originated during the Reagan era and is perpetuated by some right wing pundits, despite the consensus of expert opinion to the contrary. For an authoritative example, read a paper written by Dr. Jeffrey Record, a professor in the Department of Strategy and International Security at the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, entitled "Vietnam in Retrospect: Could We Have Won?" His conclusion:
The United States could not have prevented the forcible reunification of Vietnam under communist auspices at a morally, materially, and strategically acceptable price.

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