Thursday, August 23, 2007

What the President Learned from his Experience in Vietnam (Bush addresses VFW in Kansas City)

This is a serious question as in I mean no disrespect,Why does the symbol for the VFW look so much like the symbol on the left?

Ever since George W. Bush got into politics, the following question keeps coming up, “Where was W. during Vietnam?”

Unlike Al Gore and John Kerrey, the current President did not go there as a member of the armed forces during the war. Yesterday, the President spoke in Kansas City to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and expounded on his personal version of the lessons of the War in Vietnam.

To summarize, the President apparently believes that the U.S. should never have withdrawn from Vietnam. There’s probably not much question that a more orderly withdrawal may have saved lives, but that’s not the lesson I took away from Vietnam.

1) US Power was not unlimited
2) Superior technology alone could not defeat a determined opponent on his home turf
3) History, culture, and tradition mattered. (it also helped to listen to the French)
4) Clear achievable objectives are part of any strategy for success
5) Do not play Russian Roulette with anyone who looks like Christopher Walken

By 1972, the only question among serious policy folk was how to withdraw and when. If there was a failure in that regard, it was a failure to plan for any kind of orderly exit. This President seems to be suggesting that we stay whether or not we have a plan even if we can’t “win”. Or worse yet, he suggests that any attempt to withdraw from Iraq will be the end of Western Civilization and Democracy. So you talked us into going there, it was a terrible mistake compounded by your incompetent management of the occupation, and now you’re saying there’s no way to leave without bringing down the entire country? Was there a disclaimer somewhere that I forgot to read when you got that Congressional resolution passed to use force against Saddam?

My view doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t there and I’m not a historian. Moshe Dayan, the Israeli General largely credited with being the tactical mind behind the Seven Day war, did come to his own view of the War in Vietnam. I think his “lessons from Vietnam” do matter. If you don’t feel like reading the link, Dayan noticed that the US had lost the war before the US realized it.

In the same speech, the President worked in a number of references to books perhaps to confirm Karl Rove’s assessment of his soon to be former boss as “the best read man I know”. He brought up Graham Greene’s “Quiet American” and indulged in a meandering history of the Korean War. He also spent considerable time comparing Iraq to World War 2 Japan as a successful exercise in bringing democracy to a country that had dramatically different cultural traditions. Of course, that war was run competently for the most part and the US did not trump up its reasons for declaring war on Japan. There’s also the rather significant matter that the US left the Emperor in place after the war and that Japan itself was a country with a relatively homogeneous culture, unlike either Iraq or the more generalized enemy he calls “Terror” and “Enemies of Freedom”. In the meantime, here’s the Vietnamese view on the President’s take on Vietnam.

One other point about the President’s thoughts on the lessons of Vietnam. For some reason, he didn’t mention the fact that had the U.S. stayed there with no clear strategic objective other than a steadfast resolve not to withdraw for fear of losing face, it’s likely that at least a hundred thousand more American soldiers would have died there. In fact, it was sort of chilling to note that he either implied or assumed that no one would have died had the Americans stayed in Vietnam. The names on the Vietnam Memorial would have been spilling out into the Lincoln Memorial. Even worse, National Guard units might have had to be called there to fill the manpower gaps.

Wow, I answered my own question about the VFW sybmol...Amazing thing the Internet.



At 8/23/2007 10:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Swell that the VFW's Malta Cross extols the sermon on the mount beatitudes of meek peacemakers while slaveringly supporting this benighted war that costs $820,000 per minute tick tock each minute, plus an extra $233,000 dollars per minute to cush up Halliburton's little bottom line (Little bottom like Jabba the Hut has a little bottom.) Ah the Zeal of the Hypocrites.

The terrorists are not a threat to the U S of A. 450,000 people every year die horribly in America of tobacco-related causes. That's 1232 every day -- 9/11, 9/12, 9/13 et so on & on. That's well over two million since the loonland war began. That's a threat.

Do we carpet-bomb North Carolina and put a Dead or Alive 50 million dollar bounty on Louis C. Camilleri, the bloodthirsty soulless Philip Morris CEO killer of more Americans than Saddam killed his own people or Mr. Laden killed USAers?

Piffle. Our reaction to this sad and ugly but not threatening 9/11 event has been hysterical. And now we're making the world's most extensive and expensive rubble in Iraq. And the gobbets-per-acre is infernal. Woe is we.

The better Vietnam analogy would have been for Mr. Bush to remind us that General Ho Chi Minh said, "We will fight you for 300 years. We live here."

At 8/24/2007 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Mr. Pogblog,
please don't blow up North Carolina...2 of my kids live there.

The president's history lesson is a bit revealing. He assumes or at least implies that had US forces stayed in Vietnam, there would have been no deaths or suffering.

In applying it to Iraq, he didn't seem to take American deaths into account at all. Interesting, given that he's not the President of the Middle East.

At 8/26/2007 11:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forlornly, somebody's kids are under every bomb.

At 8/27/2007 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Yes, but one of my kids was out protesting the war last weekend so....


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