Just As I Thought

How does he know? He wasn’t there.

Wow… George Bush is comparing his Iraq fiasco to the Vietnam fiasco. I guess he means that in 20 years we will all firmly agree that we never should have been there in the first place.
I don’t think he thought through the whole comparison scheme very deeply. Not that he seems to think anything through very deeply. The problem with him opening his mouth on this issue is that now everyone and his dog is going to come up with dozens more comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, and damned few of them will bolster Bush’s position.
Some of the comparisons that immediately leap to mind are:

  • Never should have gone in to begin with
  • Bogged us down for 16 years
  • More than 1.5 million dead
  • We lost

The thing is, the Vietnam war was sort of a gradual thing, it grew and grew after World War II and Korea and was fed by our insatiable need to have a stark enemy — the communists, much as today’s stark enemy is al-Qaeda. Iraq had no al-Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, and was no real threat to us whatsoever. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a dictator who murdered his own people, but he was content to posture and present a false front to the Arab world and couldn’t back it up with real power. Of course, this is a perfect reason to invade: I’m certain that the Project for a New American Century thought that toppling Saddam Hussein would take only a few days and the Iraqis would cheer us in the streets. They knew that Iraq was not the power it portrayed itself as and it would take little effort to take the country. Oops!
Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam war, Americans trade with Vietnam and visit on vacation. I quote: Vietnam, without the presence of the United States, showed itself to be of little economic or strategic value to anyone.
Here’s one more comparison to Vietnam that the president didn’t mention:

As the number of troops in Vietnam increased, the financial burden of the war grew. One of the rarely mentioned consequences of the war were the budget cuts to President Johnson’s Great Society programs. As defense spending and inflation grew, Johnson was forced to raise taxes. The Republicans, however, refused to vote for the increases unless a $6 billion cut was made to the administration’s social programs.
Almost 3 million Americans served in Vietnam. Between 1965 and 1973 the United States spent $120 billion on the war. This resulted in a large federal budget deficit. The war demonstrated that no power, not even a superpower, has unlimited strength and resources. But perhaps most significantly, the Vietnam War illustrated that political will, as much as material might, is a decisive factor in the outcome of conflicts. [Wikipedia

It’s not surprising that George Bush once again has completely failed to learn anything from history other than what he cherry-picks and chooses. Gee, just like people who thump the Bible, but only stress the passages that underscore their own prejudices or beliefs, and ignore the rest.

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