Old George and his minions have been trying to re-educate us for years. Even with his approval ratings in the basement–right under the sump pump– we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions about what a disaster the Bush years at the helm have been. After all, he tells us, “The jury’s still out on George Washington.” And he ought to know. He’s reading a book. So, he’s sort of like George Washington. Really. A couple of hundred years from now folks’ll read a book about Dubya. Under neocon leadership the Iraq War ought to be winding down about then and everyone will see how wise the 43rd president truly was.
And they tell us he’s just like Abraham Lincoln, too. Misunderstood. Greatness is too often unappreciated by the masses. In the midst of a bloody Civil War nobody much liked Abe, either.
After nearly five years of taking offense at any comparison between his Iraq War and Vietnam (“What distortion of the war on the ground?” “What quagmire?”), Dubya has penned a new page in the GOP Official U.S. History Book. In a lengthy, didactic History-Lesson-for-Dummies speech before the VFW, after linking his war (and his leadership) to every honorable, justifiable U.S. engagement, he invoked Vietnam:
“…there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War [This sounds about right.] and how we left. There’s no debate in my mind that the veterans fron Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America [If you’re so proud now, where were you, Cheney and the rest of your deferment–loving warmongers then? Those troops you admire— my husband among them—sure could have used some help.] Whatever your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens…
“There was another price…we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle…those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001… [In Iraq Dubya still insists it’s all Al Qaeda, all the time.].”
W. goes on to make his point clear: We only lost the Vietnam War because we quit–and that cut-and-run policy gives aid and comfort to our enemies today. Once again, victory is ours for the taking. Unless we quit.
There are some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq. In both cases the declaration of war was based on lies. The two Gulf of Tonkin “incidents” were were suspect in one case, disproved altogether in the other. The Saddam-Al Qaeda-9/11 connection was false, there were no WMD. In both wars our military bore/bears the brunt of the battle while a reluctant and/or duplicitous Vietnamese/Iraqi military stood down. In both wars we propped up inept, corrupt governments. In both wars millions of innocent civilians were killed, maimed and displaced. In both wars the official U.S. government spin trumped the facts on the ground. We were/are winning. The successful end– total victory with honor– was/is right around the next bend… And, at the end of the day, the Vietnamese didn’t like us, the world’s opinion of us plummeted and we were at each others’ throats here at home.
And there was one significant difference: Corrupt or not, the government of South Vietnam asked for U.S. aid and intervention. We did not make a unilateral pre-emptive strike against a sovereign nation who never asked us to invade their homeland.
When all else fails, George W. Bush brings the Almighty into matters of policy as he sees them. His VFW Neo-history lesson speech was no exception:
“The greatest weapon in the arsenal of democracy is the desire for liberty written into the human heart by our Creator.”
You can’t argue with God. And, in the Bush version of U.S. History, it is the POTUS who must define what God meant by “liberty.” In the present case, it seems to mean a right-wing version of democracy at gunpoint, a docile pro-American regime in power and the Hydrocarbon Act benchmark to seal the deal.
Iraq is like Vietnam–only better. This time, if the pro-war Right has its way, we can’t lose because we won’t quit. We may never leave at all. Occupation and control of Iraqi oil fields. That’s the new, improved definition of liberty. Believe it. It’s in Dubya’s new, improved history book.