Saturday, August 25, 2007


I've been saying for years that the left drew all the wrong lessons from Vietnam, and it's about darned time the President called them on it.

Want to compare Iraq to Vietnam?

Bush's argument is uncharacteristically constrained. He acknowledged that Vietnam is a "complex and painful subject for many Americans." He conceded that the "tragedy of Vietnam is too large to be contained in one speech." He recognized that "there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left." Yet he also cautioned that "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,' 'reeducation camps,' and 'killing fields.'"

Ooooh, don't want to bring those inconvenient topics up, do we? Heck, according to none other than war hero John Kerry, such things never even happened. But back to the Weekly Standard piece:

Another set of critics argued that it was impolitic of Bush to bring up Vietnam. This was a line often repeated in media reporting on the VFW speech. A Time magazine web article had the headline: "Bush's Risky Vietnam Gambit." The columnist Dan Froomkin said Bush had entered "risky rhetorical territory." The report in the print edition tut-tutted that Vietnam "remains a divisive, emotional issue for many Americans." Guest-hosting MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle asked, "What does the president have to gain by opening old wounds?" Senator John Kerry said "invoking the tragedy of Vietnam" was "irresponsible." And yet, during the entire debate over Iraq, opponents of intervention have brought up Vietnam frequently. When that happens, no one deems it "risky" or "irresponsible" of them to bring up this "divisive, emotional issue."

Imagine that.

The author saves his best statement for last:

Bush's opponents don't have a problem with Vietnam analogies. They have a problem with Vietnam analogies that undermine the case for American withdrawal. They see Vietnam as the exclusive property of the antiwar movement.

They're entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. They can't wish away communist oppression, no matter how much they scream about being oppressed and supposedly losing their liberties to "George Bush's Patriot Act". Maybe a visit to a real reeducation camp might do them some good--but probably not.


Queen of Dysfunction said...

I love this post. I have often wondered why more people haven't looked at the lessons of Vietnam and seen within them the case for staying in Iraq.

We are making a big mistake if we think that the people who are fighting our forces in Iraq today didn't watch what happened in Vietnam and learn a very valuable lesson about the resolve of the American public. I hope we don't prove them right.

Darren said...

The linked article mentions a quote by Dr. Zawahiri (Osama's goat trail buddy in the mountains) making just your point, Queen. He's very specific about the American withdrawal from Vietnam.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Kerry refers to the "tragedy" of Vietnam. It was a tragedy because Kerry and his buddies were complicit in forcing an early withdrawal by exploiting weak politicians who tried to cater to polls rather than being resolute. The job was left unfinished and millions suffered. I acknowledge that the war was not led well, I know first hand. But the cause was just. Weak politicians dishonored the deaths of 58,000 Americans. They deserve nothing but comtempt.

Ellen K said...

If Kerry would bother to talk to any Vietnamese expatriats he might find that they have little sympathy for the liberal push to withdrawal. I have many kids from there and their parents suffered immeasurably at the hands of the NVC. Many of their parents were professionals-doctors, lawyers, police, teachers. They were the first ones sought when the south fell. What is ironic is that some of the NVC commanders believed they were losing after the Tet offensive. But our media managed to seize the day and create a vacuum that killed a great many people. If you want a more accurate comparison for Iraq-look at the Kurds.

allen said...

"NVC commanders believed they were losing"? The Tet offensive was a friggin' disaster for the Viet Cong. They were never militarily important after that and the war in the south was an almost exclusively North Vietnamese affair.

I still remember "the most trusted man in America" - Walter Cronkite in case you're not of an age - intoning the catastrophic nature of the Tet offensive *for*America*. Even then I knew there was something off kilter about the Tet offensive being described as a defeat for America. In a matter of a couple of days all the gains that the communists made during the first few hours were reversed. The high-water mark of the offensive was the seizure of the city of Hue and they lost that along with *everything* else.

I was just a kid then but even I realized that an offensive without victories isn't much of a success.

But that minor consideration didn't deter Walter Cronkite and much of the mass media, especially TV news, from declaring the war lost. When that turned out very decidedly to *not* be the case they quietly dropped the entire episode and went back to nickle-and-diming the war to death.

Cameron said...

Okay, wait a second. Did Bush just say that America's withdrawal was responsible for "killing fields"? As in the Cambodian ones? I'm pretty sure that Khmer Rogue was responsible for that. Who ended the killing fields? The Vietnamese Communists, that's who. Also, remember that 750,000 Cambodians were previously killed by American bombing runs. And yes, because the Vietnames Communists were the ones trying to stop the killing fields, it was America that supported Khmer Rouge and sent them aid. We were at least partially to blame for the genocide, but not because we left.

Darren said...

Cameron, you're misinterpreting the President's remarks and are demonstrating--how shall I put this delicately--a novel interpretation of historical events.

How do you like Santa Cruz? Are you even there yet?

Oh, and I do *not* want to hear from you about First Rain. Ewwww! =)

Cameron said...

Actually, I still have three weeks or so before I go. It's been a very long summer, but I can't wait to get there.
I tried getting onto campus yesterday but the principal made me leave. Bad luck.

I won't give you any of the details about the "festivities," don't worry.