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Lessons of Vietnam Revisited

When word first broke that Bush would be invoking Vietnam in an upcoming speech to justify continuation of the war in Iraq, I was surprising by the response it got given this isn't the first time Bush has alluded to that long ago conflict. But after reading through some of the speech and subsequent criticisms, I can now understand why. As one blogger observed "It's a frontal assault on the rational mind".

Bush's basic argument is that the US pulled out of Vietnam too soon and the resultant chaos that followed would surely be paralleled by an "early" withdrawal from Iraq. In the course of making this argument, Bush just shows his lack of any understanding of a war he so adamantly supported yet refused to fight in.

Now I do not to profess to be any sort of expert on Vietnam. As a member of the Y Generation, I was born far too late to have witnessed the conflict first hand. But it is not as if there haven't been an encyclopedia's worth of books written about the conflict. After skimming through Bush's speech, I wonder if he has only read the ones rendered in pop-up form.

Some of the things noticed from Bush's address:

- We apparently need to stay in Iraq because of the mere chance that at some point in the future, an heretofore unknown "enemy" might cite our withdrawal as a sign of weakness. By that standard, the British would still be fighting to keep us rebelling Americans from gaining any sort of independence.

- Bush played fast and loose with the number of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. According to him, we've killed or captured more Al-Qaeda than there were Al-Qaeda to begin with.

- Did he really reference Graham Greene's "The Quiet American"? Oy.

- What's this claptrap about "the killing fields"? Is Bush admitting the US is responsible for the massacres in Cambodia? Sure sounds like it. Though to be fair, Bush probably doesn't get that it wasn't withdrawal from Vietnam but our bombing campaign that paved the way for the Khmer Rouge to ascend to power.

- Given that context, is Bush's reference to "killing fields" a dog whistle that he plans to emulate Nixon, something the neocons would giddily approve of?

Follow the various links in this post and you'll see that I'm not the only one who thinks that George Bush shouldn't be allowed to manage a Dairy Queen, much less foreign policy.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)