Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Vietnam Analogy

I'm sure the following insight has occurred to many other opponents of the Bush Administration and its disastrously failed war in Iraq. But I need to state it out in the open, to add my own little sandbag against the flood tide of forthcoming GOP spin...

They know that Iraq is lost. They know we will have to leave. They are trying to create the impression that we are suddenly starting to have "success" now, however small, in order to control the post-withdrawal narrative. (That was the whole point of the September report/deadline, after all, even though it will have to be over-written by the White House to still perform its intended function.) It is no coincidence that all this talk of previously-so-adamantly-denied Vietnam analogies comes at just the time when the Masters of War have cajoled many elite pundits and strong-defense-hawk-wannabee Democrats (including, sadly, leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) into muddying the waters and making it sound like the transparently manufactured appearance of "success" they have created is a real change in the long-term prognosis of this disastrously failed war. They are ready now to perform the same contra-factual historical spin trick they pulled on Vietnam (for some) to make Americans believe we could have won if the all-powerful-yet-somehow-also-fringe anti-war movement hadn't made us leave.

We can't let them do this. We were right; they were wrong. We can't let America (even half of it) be fooled again.


Ambivalent_Maybe said...

Gosh--there is a lot of disinformation to wade through here. First is the bizarrely prevalent myth that the US could have won in Vietnam. Next is Bush saying Iraq is just like that mythical war, the one they used to say it was nothing like. Then there are the horrible consequences for the people of Vietnam once the US pulled out.

My guess is that while too many people now might believe that the US could have 'won' in Vietnam, most people don't see Iraq the same way. So in the short term Bush's latest angle won't accomplish it's immediate goal. BUT, people closer to the events of the Vietnam war probably didn't buy the 'we could have won it' line back in 1973. But by endless repetition the GOP has wheedled the idea into the oh-so-polluted mainstream of popular thought.

So the fight against the 'we could have won in Iraq' meme will need to be a long campaign to make sure the idea stays in, as Kevin Drum would say, the fever swamps of the deluded ultra-right, where it belongs. Otherwise I can imagine us invading some other country in twenty years, and then patting ourselves on the back for having finally kicked our 'Iraq syndrome.'

Robert Ellman said...

Terrific post. I concur with you and ambivalent_maybe. The GOP managed turn the opposition of liberal Democrats against the Vietnam War into an albatross after 1968 with a relentlessly effective disinformation campaign.

I think it's worth noting that Democrats stood up to their own president LBJ, whereas the GOP never questioned Nixon's tactics in Vietnam or Cambodia, and are only starting now to gently question Bush.

The GOP is horrible at governing or conducting a foreign policy of sense. But they're damn good at exploiting fear and distortion to obtain and hold power. Hillary Clinton should've learned far different lessons from the Vietnam period she lived in. She consistently dissappoints me with her risk averse waffling about reality.

christian_left said...

Wow! Maybe Immanuel Wallerstein has been reading this blog...

(Then again, it is a pretty obvious title to use.)

In any event, I'm perfectly glad (though that may not be quite the right choice of words given the subject matter) to see that Wallerstein and I share the same view of what is going on.