Friday, November 17, 2006


Taking his un-victory lap to his former non-stomping grounds, Mister Man weighs in with the conventional wisdom of that other fumbling armchair quarterback, Hank the K:

Today, during his first visit to Vietnam, President Bush was “asked about the war here over three decades ago and the comparisons to the war in Iraq today.” Bush said there was a comparison: As in Vietnam, “We’ll succeed unless we quit.”


Bush’s remarks virtually mirror those made by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. As Bob Woodward detailed in his book State of Denial, Kissinger is a frequent advisor to President Bush and has delivered the message to top administration officials that “victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy”:

Kissinger sensed wobbliness everywhere on Iraq, and he increasingly saw it through the prism of the Vietnam War. For Kissinger, the overriding lesson of Vietnam is to stick it out.

In his writing, speeches and private comments, Kissinger claimed that the United States had essentially won the war in 1972, only to lose it because of the weakened resolve of the public and Congress.

In a column in The Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2005, titled “Lessons for an Exit Strategy,” Kissinger wrote, “Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy.”

He delivered the same message directly to Bush, Cheney and Hadley at the White House.

Victory had to be the goal, he told all. Don’t let it happen again. Don’t give an inch, or else the media, the Congress and the American culture of avoiding hardship will walk you back.

[all emphases in Think Progress article]

Talk about revisiting an exercise in futility. Look, we killed as many as 2-3 million Vietnamese in the course of that war, and still ended up losing. As Oliver Stone once said, these people are just bad losers; they were simply never going to give up. Nor would we give up, in a similar situation, despite our current inability to see at least some parallels -- every invader, every occupier has its noble excuse, and every invaded or occupied citizenry chafes under the rationales, in disbelief and frustration, inevitably culminating in vicious cycles of violence.

And opportunity as well -- while Bush mindlessly babbles about "freedom" this and "God's gift" that, the real world operates under the paradigm of a pure power struggle, of payback and retribution, of nature abhorring a vacuum. That's all Iraq is anymore, and that's all it's going to continue to be, until enough scores have been settled and power consolidated for something resembling a top dog to emerge. We're just refereeing as best we can at this point, relying on corrupted trainees, who are kidnapping and murdering civilians left and right under color of authority -- authority imposed and maintained by us.

The easy japes at Bush's Yogi Berra-ism don't even mention the obvious -- that Bush has consistently refused to even define success, much less establish the parameters and benchmarks -- probably because it's just too obvious. But it needs to be laid out, over and over and over again. He should not be allowed to even utter the word "success" without proffering at least an outline of what his expectations for that word are in the first place.

So when he continues to run the usual nonsense up the flagpole once again, it should be readily apparent that all he's doing is buying time.

When discussion in President Bush's White House has turned to Vietnam, it has usually been by way of what the Administration deems an inaccurate comparison to the Iraq war. Last June, in answer to a reporter's question of whether he drew a parallel between events in Iraq and the Vietnam war, he said, "This is, in many ways, religious in nature, and I don't see the parallels."

That may have changed. Not that the President now sees the quagmire alleged by war critics, of course. But asked on arrival in Vietnam for an economic summit whether this country holds any lessons for the debate over Iraq, the President answered: "Yes. One lesson is, is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while." Bush went on to say that Iraq is part of a "great struggle" between "radicals and extremists, versus people who want to live in peace." He said overcoming "the ideology of hate" is going to take a long time. "Yet, the world that we live in today is one where they want things to happen immediately," he said.

This is cheap and obfuscatory, though certainly not unexpected. Apparently we're all just supposed to forget that this was going to be a cakewalk, a slam-dunk, an unqualified success that would pay for itself so fucking fast that the dirty hippies' heads would spin right off their filthy peacenik shoulders.

But now, now that oil is six times the price it was in 2000, now that we've stirred up a slaughterhouse that will not abate whether we stay or go, now it turns out that it was always meant to be a long-term investment. Now it's a problem with our greedy, thankless expectations of instant gratification.

It's never their fault, not ever; it's always everyone else's for not understanding that when they said "cakewalk" that it was a 10-year cake minimum, that "Mission Accomplished", given its decade-plus prescience, should not be ridiculed for its fecklessness but appreciated for its astounding foresight.


LadyLiberty said...

Hi Heywood! The man has no shame. He knows he's going down and these are just last-ditch efforts to try to leave some semblence of a half-decent legacy, which he has pretty much destroyed any chance of being able to leave.

I'm glad I found your blog. There really aren't a lot on blogspot. One has to venture elsewhere to even get a discussion going!!!
Instead of blogging, I would suggest to some to turn off the PC and write in their journal, as blogging is inter-acting, and there's not much of THAT going on around here!!

Thanks for a timely and informative post!!

Thanks! Abby

Heywood J. said...

Thanks, Abby. I agree that there's less interactivity in blogging as opposed to discussion fora; it's monologuing rather than dialoguing. I've participated in several excellent discussion boards over the years, with a variety of fun and knowledgeable people, so I can appreciate the difference in dynamics.

For now, because of my impacted real-life schedule, blogging is the most effective mode for my soapboxing. I wouldn't be able to keep up my end of a participatory discussion.

As for Bush's intent with his speech in Vietnam, I would see it as a definitive broadside at the newly-elected Democratic Congress. This is textbook Rove -- ignoring your own weakness while attacking your opponents' strength. That's where they get the nerve to put two draft dodgers up against a decorated war veteran in '04, and smear the veteran's service record. Shame will never enter into their equation.

The proper (and political) way out for the Democrats is to re-brand the "cut and run" nonsense, take it away from Rove, Bush, Cheney and the rest of the chickenhawks. A pullback into Kuwait and Qatar, or the four permanent "super-bases" in Iraq is neither cutting nor running. The Democrats have to rightly point out that if they had their druthers, they'd pick a more glorious path, but because the players in this administration have screwed the pooch so badly and consistently, drawing down and working with Iran and Syria is pretty much the least awful remaining option.

Someone has to be the adult here, and clearly it's never going to be Bush. He'll just keep retreating further into his bunker, trying to find historical parallels between himself and Churchill, Lincoln, and/or Washington.