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Monday, August 27, 2007

Leave it to the Experts

In his weekend radio address, President Bush once again revisited Vietnam and urged us to learn the lessons of history. The problem with this new kick of his is that pretty much no one thinks the Vietnam war was a good idea anymore and that the lessons we're supposed to be learning from history are undercut by... Um... history.

He told us to learn "lessons we can draw from the advance of freedom in Asia in the 20th century." As an example, he said, "America's enduring presence and perseverance on that continent aided the rise of democracy, helped transform American enemies into American allies, and made our country safer."

That's not so true. We lost in Korea, we lost in Vietnam, and the largest country in Asia -- China -- is nowhere near democratic or free. Our record for war in Asia is similar to everyone else's -- it sucks. And, despite losing all these absolutely necessary wars, the 'domino theory' was proven wrong -- Asia didn't turn red. You'd think that losing 'necessary' wars would have some sort of historical consequence, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Other people, who had a better view of Asia than the frat boy who's influential dad got him into a 'Champagne Unit' of the National Guard, have a more realistic view of Vietnam:

There are similarities between the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam. One of the lessons to be learned from Vietnam is that the commitment of American military strength alone cannot solve another country's political weakness. This should be a somber warning to us all to responsibly end the war in Iraq and the additional loss of precious American lives.

That's former Senator Max Cleland, who gave the Democratic response to Bush's radio address. He lost three limbs in Vietnam, earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star, and has something of a realistic view of what war looks like.

And Cleland isn't alone in his view of Iraq. The White House is currently running a big public relations campaign, trying to convince everyone that military personnel want to stay in Iraq until the sun burns out. I've written about it recently (in fact it was my last post of last week), so I won't go into it here. Let's just say that reality keeps intruding on the big "Huzzah for war!" propaganda push.

Associated Press:

A call by Puerto Rico's governor for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq earned a standing ovation from a conference of more than 4,000 National Guardsmen.

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said Saturday that the U.S. administration has "no new strategy and no signs of success" and that prolonging the war would needlessly put guardsmen in harm's way.

"The war in Iraq has fractured the political will of the United States and the world," he said at the opening of the 129th National Guard Association general conference. "Clearly, a new war strategy is required and urgently."

That hasn't been getting a lot of press. It's weird, but the cable news networks seem to have plenty of time for pundits, politicians, and other talking heads who want to tell us what the troops think, but when you get actual military personnel expressing some sort of opinion, you get crickets from cable land. It's not news. They aren't experts, I guess. Because experts tell us the troops want to stay. That's how you can tell they're experts.

So about 4,000 non-experts turned out at Kennebunkport, Maine to protest the war, including Iraq Veterans Against the War. IVAW, I guess, aren't experts on what troops want either. If it'd been 4,000 for war, it would've been the big story on cable.

Portland Press Herald:

Several of the speakers at the rally were from the military or military families. Liam Madden, with Iraq Veterans Against the War, told crowd members that they were "actively building a movement of conscience within the military" to end the war.

"Our government has failed us," Madden said. "This war will not end by an act of Congress. It will end through an organized and collective act of conscience."

The biggest problem facing those who argue in favor of the war is that it serves no purpose in the first place. Every reason we were given to invade has turned out to be completely false. Not only is there no reason to keep fighting it, but there was no reason to start it in the first place.

But the experts tell us that Iraq is Vietnam -- only the Vietnam we should've fought -- and ignore the fact that we had no good reason to fight there either. The experts tell us that the troops want to stay in Iraq until the world stops turning and ignore the fact that that's not what they're saying at all. They tell us that we don't understand what's happening, that the people who got us into this incredibly screwed up mess in the first place do. The morons who've been wrong about everything, every step of the way, they know best. And those of us who were right all along are just complainers.

Does that make any damned sense to you?


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