Monday, November 20, 2006

More than a little bit unseemly

President Bush is eager to demonstrate just how well he's learned all the wrong lessons about Vietnam -- while visiting Vietnam:
In Hanoi, powerful reminders remain of the fighting three decades ago, the longest U.S. war and one that -- like Iraq -- divided Americans.

Asked if the experience in Vietnam offered lessons for Iraq, Bush said, "We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take awhile.

"We'll succeed unless we quit," the president said.

So, now back to Vietnam -- both the metaphor and the country.

Isn't this trip a really odd venue for the president to be arguing that staying the course basically forever is the only acceptable solution? . . .

. . .

And yet here we have President Bush, stepping on to Vietnamese soil to further our rapprochement with Vietnam, and arguing, in so many words, that the lesson of Vietnam is that we should still be there blowing the place up thirty years later.

We're really deep into the primitive brainstem phase of our long national nightmare of presidential denial and mendacity on Iraq. Poetically, politically and intellectually it's appropriate that Henry Kissinger is now along for the ride.

Indeed, to Kissinger, the only similarity between Iraq and Vietnam is how much our country's citizens are the ones responsible for "losing" their leaders' stupid wars:
"For me, the tragedy of Vietnam was the divisions that occurred in the United States that made it, in the end, impossible to achieve an outcome that was compatible with the sacrifices that had been made," former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
And it should be noted that Bush's Vietnam-coulda-been-won-if-we-had-just-stayed-the-course-like-I-want-to-do-in-Iraq lesson is something he has been thinking about. Considering that this is the third Vietnam comparison he's made or accepted in recent weeks, it probably wasn't a comment offered off the top of his head.

Even if historical accuracy isn't the goal, you would still think his advisors could have fed him a more diplomatic answer than "Nice country you got here. It's a shame we didn't keep bombing it."


The stupid is contagious.

From Prof. Cole:
AP says that Secretary of State Condi Rice asserted Saturday that Iraqis only have a future if they stay within a single state. She pointed to Vietnam's success in reforming its economy and making up with the United States and held it out as a model to Iraq.


Rice surely knows that the way in which Vietnam achieved national unity was . . . for the radical forces to drive out the Americans, overthrow pro-American elements, and conquer the whole country. They only went in for this capitalism thing fairly recently. Rice, a Ph.D. and former Provost of Stanford University, shouldn't be saying silly things like that Iraq should emulate Vietnam. I guess if you hang around with W. long enough, you catch whatever it is that he has.


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