Following on the president’s recent speech, Kevin Drum notes:
What’s worse, we now have a president who’s officially decided to take history lessons from Rambo.
Turns out that’s not a bad assessment of the situation:
In the speech, Mr. Bush sought to paint the conflict in Iraq in the broader context of American involvement in Asia. In one fell swoop, the president likened the Iraq war to earlier conflicts in Japan and Korea â€” which produced democratic allies of the United States â€” as well as to the war in Vietnam, asserting that the American pullout there 32 years ago led to tens of thousands of deaths in that country and Cambodia. â€œThe question now before us,â€ he said, referring to Japan and Korea, â€œcomes down to this: Will todayâ€™s generation of Americans resist the deceptive allure of retreat and do in the Middle East what veterans in this room did in Asia?â€
You know what, I’ll be honest: I’m not an expert on the Vietnam War (or on the Korean War, or on World War II for that matter). But I thought the conventional wisdom was along these lines:
Reliance on massive firepower and technological superiority and the ability to marshal vast logistical resources have been hallmarks of the American military tradition. Tactics have often seemed to exist apart from larger issues, strategies, and objectives. Yet in Vietnam the Army experienced tactical success and strategic failure. The rediscovery of the Vietnam War suggests that its most important legacy may be the lesson that unique historical, political, cultural, and social factors always impinge on the military. Strategic and tactical success rests not only on military progress but on correctly analyzing the nature of the particular conflict, understanding the enemy’s strategy, and realistically assessing the strengths and weaknesses of allies.
It does seem pretty disingenuous to liken every major conflict of the past 70 years to the war in Iraq. But Bush’s assertion that the world would have been a better place if we could have just kept sending American troops, helicopters, planes and bombs to Southeast Asia is simply ludicrous, as Drum notes:
Turns out we were this close to winning in Vietnam when the Defeatocrats decided to pull the plug. And with that, yet another longtime conservative fantasy makes its way out of the fever swamps and into the public discourse, where we’ll all be expected to stroke our chins and pretend to take it seriously for the next week or so.
I need a drink.