Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vietnam -- never boring!

So I was starting to wonder if the Vietnam war comparisons were getting a little stale here at my little corner of blogtopia, but then no less an august personage than George W. Bush himself compared Iraq to Vietnam yesterday. Of course, when he says it he means it in a good way. Or something.

It's difficult to know exactly which part is most offensive. There's this part:
``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,' `re-education camps,' and `killing fields,''' Bush said in Kansas City in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest U.S. veterans' group.
Of course, the killing fields were in Cambodia, not Vietnam, and it was the work of America's allies the Khmer Rouge. Meanwhile, there were plenty of killing fields in Vietnam with the US there, except they were called "free-fire zones". And Vietnam had immense waves of internal refugees before the Americans left, not to mention the nearly 2 million dead by the end of the American involvement in the war.

Then there's the near-hysterical point that Bush specifically brought up the Alden Pyle character in The Quiet American. It's insane, but he actually seems to think that this reinforces his arguments, not undermines them. It's kind of like saying that the message of Star Wars is how you can always trust your dad, that's how crazy this is.

The other obvious point is, as Matthew Yglesias points out, that the worst predictions about Vietnam were in fact proven wrong by events. Yes, the war ended badly there. But the end of the war was, all things considered, preferable to continuing the oceans of blood flowing out of the Mekong.

1 comment:

Kevin Rooney said...

The Khmer Rouge were not originally a US ally - they were the folks in the Cambodian countryside traumatized by a US bombing campaign that sounds like it came from some deranged Japanese anime.
What is most impressive is that the US allied with the Khmer Rouge _after_ they had committed genocide. And this support for the Khmer Rouge was started by President Carter, widely denounced as the pacifist wing of the US elite.