October 20, 2006

Iraq and Vietnam: The Cat Is Out Of The Bag

It's kind of funny to see the media traction this story has gotten overnight. Seems to me that the whole thing got started because Bush didn't quite know what the Tet Offensive was, so he bluffed his way through the question:
Bush was asked in an ABC News interview on Wednesday whether he agreed with an opinion by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that the current violence in Iraq was "the jihadist equivalent of the Tet offensive."

Bush responded: "He could be right. There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."
Now Tony Snowjob is also being forced to address the issue:
White House spokesman Tony Snow said the president was not trying to say that it was the turning point in Iraq, as the Tet offensive has come to symbolize for Vietnam.

"That is not an analogy we're trying to make," Snow said. "We do not think that there's been a flip-over point, but more importantly from the standpoint of the government and the standpoint of this administration, we're going to continue pursuing victory aggressively."
Maybe if they had pursued victory a bit less "aggressively", and a bit more intelligently (whatever happened to "hearts and minds"?), things could have been very different today.

UPDATE: Another possibility is that it was a planted question, which allows Bush to spin the Vietnam analogy in his own favour. Here's Juan Cole again:
Bush's position is that things are going just great in Iraq, and that a few trouble-makers have managed to hijack the US media with a small number of limited bombings and other sabotage, and have made it look like the US isn't making progress. Bush believes that the media and Americans are falling for a get-up job. So he is is trying to say to the American public that just as the Tet offensive was a military defeat for the Viet Cong but a propaganda defeat for Washington, so the October offensive of the Sunni Arab guerrillas is so much smoke and mirrors, a mere propaganda stunt with no substantive importance for Iraq.

But in fact, the current guerrilla war against US troops and the new Iraqi government isn't at all like the Tet offensive. It is deadly serious. Because the US military is not defeating the guerrillas militarily any more...
So will Americans drink the Bush-Tet Koolaid? The prof doesn't think so:
What is delicious is that the general American public does not hold the view of the Vietnam War popular among far-right politicians like Bush, and so no one but the true believers will catch his drift here. In fact, most Americans will assume that Bush has admitted that we are in an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq, just as in Vietnam. And the Iraq=Vietnam identification is likely to stick. Of all his misstatements and malapropisms over the years, any one of which would have robbed most people of credibility or made them a laughing-stock, it is ironic that this miscalculation, uttered coolly and with no stutter, may have been his biggest gaffe of all.
And just a reminder, here's what Bush said about the Iraq-Vietnam analogy two years ago:
I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops, and sends the wrong message to the enemy.
He will still holding that line in July this year.

Remember Miss Saigon? How long before somebody has to send a helicopter to pluck Bush off the White House roof, lest the surging mob gets their hands on him!?

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