By Matthew Rothschild on August 22, 2007

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.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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