Thursday, August 23, 2007
Why is George Bush suddenly making parallels between Iraq and Vietnam? Because he's preparing to shift the blame for another disaster.
By Matthew Yglesias
".......All this, however, was but the appetizer for a shocking embrace of a historically illiterate account of the Vietnam war. "One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens," Bush said "whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields.'" While it is of course true that people died in South Vietnam following American withdrawal, millions died during the United States' years of military involvement as well, a great many killed by the American military at enormous expense and with no end in sight. The killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia, meanwhile, were if anything more a consequence of America's destabilization of the region than of America's departure.
Unenlightening as Bush's analogies may be, they do serve as an interesting sign of the times. For years, war-supporters derided any efforts to draw parallels between Iraq and Vietnam as unwarranted, now they're eager to draw them. The reason, most likely, is that while the hawks lost the war in Vietnam and eventually even lost the debate over the war, they believe themselves to have eventually won the larger political battle as Ronald Reagan embraced Bush-style revisionist accounts of the war in southeast Asia as part of his march to the White House in 1980.
For months now, many conservatives have been fundamentally positioning themselves for the post-war era, readying the arguments that will blame the failure of the venture in Iraq on its opponents rather than its architects. That Bush himself has chosen to join them is, perhaps, on some level the clearest reflection of the reality that the president knows perfectly well that the war is unwinnable, and blame-shifting now the best hope for saving his historical legacy."