"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush Finally Sees Iraq as being like Vietnam

Of President Bush’s recent remarks on Iraq, his words in a speech to the VFW on Tuesday have sparked some interesting and revealing reactions. In an analogy to our departure from Vietnam the President said:

“Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America. (Applause.) Whatever your position is on that debate, one 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."

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today's struggle — those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that "the American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today."

His number two man, Zawahiri, has also invoked Vietnam. In a letter to al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq, Zawahiri pointed to "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."

Zawahiri later returned to this theme, declaring that the Americans "know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet." Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility — but the terrorists see it differently.”

This has brought the usual suspects out to condemn his remarks, one of which was John Kerry who called the statements “ignorant;” this according to scrappleface has brought a suit by Kerry:

“The lawsuit claims that Sen. Kerry, a professional Vietnam veteran, “holds exclusive rights among modern politicians to the use of Vietnam imagery, metaphor and analogy to present-day circumstances.” Essentially, the suit argues that President Bush infringed on Mr. Kerry’s copyright by even mentioning Vietnam in a political context”

This “lawsuit” is about as realistic as the comments of those that condemn the presidents remarks and as Mackubin Thomas Owens notes:

“Reporters interviewed several historians who were happy to agree with Kerry. Robert Dalleck called the comparison “a distortion”:

What is Bush suggesting? That we didn’t fight hard enough, stay long enough? That’s nonsense. It’s a distortion...We’ve been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It’s a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.

USA Today asked Stanley Karnow: “Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other, as in Iraq. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge toppled a U.S.-backed government. Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?”

Of their comments Owens says:

“Of course in criticizing Bush’s reference to Vietnam, they are comparing apples and oranges. If they don’t see this, they are fools. If they do — which is more likely — they are dishonest. Take your pick.”

Opponents of the Iraq Theater have had a field day with comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, which at one point prompted this post on histories lessons. In their rush to condemn his words, they ignore many facets of the debate, which leaves the lessons incomplete.

One thing they appear to mislead themselves on is the view of their position during that era as the good guy role leading the bad guy U.S. out of a region; in a war they didn’t believe we belonged in; with zero recognition that EVERY action, including their own, has consequences. This forces the knee-jerk responses, as they do not wish to review the entire episode in our nation’s history as “cherry picking” is their MO and as the satirical lawsuit portrays how ludicrous their statements are.

This morning I had the pleasure of reading a post with a WWII analogy, which I commented on somewhat haphazardly due to all sorts of things going on around me. Revisiting Kasserine Pass,” at Political Grind offered so many opportunities for arguing against from the Left, not because the post is wrong, but because the arguments against Roger’s analogy would be cherry picked to suit what might appear to further the debate, but rather turns it to the dishonest as these “historians” in reaction to the president have done.

Owens quotes Robert Dallek as saying of Bush’s “ignorant” remarks, “It’s a distortion...We’ve been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II;” which interestingly enough was what I thought some might throw back at Roger’s analogy between Vietnam and WWII. Where does one go in a debate when a statement like this is made? This from what one would think is an educated/learned historian; I guess he would prefer we leave history to his distortion interpretation.

One thing I do find surprising, is the fact that no one went down the “Bush finally sees Iraq as being like Vietnam,” route, although I sure someone falling off the Leftward edge did, I didn’t read it. Vietnam is the chosen weapon of many of those opposed to our activities in Iraq, unless of course someone from the other side wields it back.

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