By Ruth Conniff
You can tell Bush is really getting desperate because now he himself is bringing up the Vietnam War.
But instead of recognizing it for what it was -- a reckless imperial overreach, just like his own Iraq War -- Bush twists the history of the Vietnam War to try to buttress the one he's got us in now.
Check this out: He says we should have stayed in Vietnam longer.
"The price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens," he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. By the way, he's counting the victims of the Khmer Rouge, who came to power only after the U.S. ruined Cambodia.
And he's not counting the three million people the U.S. killed in Southeast Asia during that war.
Just as he's not counting the 70,000 to 700,000 civilian Iraqis his war has killed, or the one in ten who have been forced to leave their homes.
As Kissinger and Nixon did in Vietnam, so Bush is doing in Iraq: arguing that withdrawal will damage the credibility of the United States and embolden our enemies. To back up that point, Bush wheels out bin Laden, who has become useful again (rather than a total embarrassment) for the Administration. Since bin Laden cites Vietnam as a signal of American weakness, Bush concludes that America can never withdraw again from a war.
But what Bush doesn't yet grasp -- though the CIA has admitted -- is that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is, today, serving as a recruiting device for Al Qaeda.
So at best, the Al Qaeda argument is a wash: Withdrawing from Iraq helps Al Qaeda; staying in Iraq helps Al Qaeda.
It is, of course, amazing that Bush is even bringing up Vietnam.
Back on April 13, 2004 he was asked about the Vietnam analogy at a press conference.
But Bush did not want to hear anything about it. "The analogy is false," he said, without explaining why.
He did, however, suggest that it was almost treasonous to raise the specter of Vietnam. "That analogy sends the wrong message to our troops and to the enemy," he said.
Now he sends the message himself.
And what, by the way, does Bush suggest we should have done in Vietnam?
The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were overrunning Saigon; the U.S. embassy personnel barely got away in helicopters off the roof.
And despite more bombs tossed on the Vietnamese than all the bombs during World War II, the U.S couldn't prevail there.
Short of committing wholesale genocide.
Bush has previously implied that the United States didn't kill enough people in Vietnam.
Here are his words from his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 2000: "A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world . . . the victory must be overwhelming."
The prospect of overwhelming victory never existed in Vietnam. Nor does it exist in Iraq today.
Bush is rewriting history -- never his best subject.