I normally steer clear of politics, but this item demanded comment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush Administration, in a Wednesday speech to veterans, will draw parallels between Vietnam and Iraq to justify staying in Vietnam:
In a departure from his standard Iraq rhetoric, Mr. Bush will directly compare the Iraq conflict to Vietnam — another long-running conflict where U.S. involvement became controversial and calls for withdrawal ultimately became politically irresistible. But he will make the case that the Vietnam conflict was part of a long and ultimately successful battle in Asia against militarism and communism.
For those who don’t remember that period, Daniel Ellsberg (of the Pentagon Papers fame) was a former Marine, Rand analyst, and member of the Defense and State Departments who spent time on the ground in Vietnam. And we don’t mean in hotels. He had top security clearances and put himself at risk more than once by going out with the troops and advisors who were in the provinces.
In his book Secrets, Ellsberg tells the long story of his dealings with Vietnam, which leads up to how he came to have access to the classified record of the US decision-making regarding Vietnam, the documents he later released to the press.
He expected the history to be one of overoptimism, of Presidents making bad decisions because they had bad information. Instead, the record showed clearly that the the assessment from the very beginning had been that our likelihood of prevailing was zilch. Nevertheless, no President was willing to withdraw because they felt US prestige was at risk, until the domestic political costs became too high.
So Bush is wrong on several fronts. The parallel to Vietnam is far from close. This Administration never was interested in facts, only in its neocon fantasies. And now it is trying to recast one of the sorriest chapters of US history as a success to justify its continued failed policies. The only parallel that may be valid, aside from the inherent hopelessness of the endeavor, is that increased disenchantment at home will make withdrawal necessary.