I’m not one for opinion columnists, and this piece has little to do with religion (except maybe that our heavenly picked president could use some divine intervention), but Rosa Brooks goes sort of Jonathan Swift on President Bush’s speech Wednesday.
Oh yes. You thought the Bush administration was fresh out of ideas? You thought that with Karl Rove leaving, the administration that brought us the war in Iraq and “Mission Accomplished” had no more tricks up its sleeve?
On Wednesday, speaking before a Veterans of Foreign Wars audience, President Bush did something he had previously avoided: He compared the Iraq war with the Vietnam War, agreeing that Vietnam does hold lessons for U.S. policy in Iraq.
Can’t argue with that. For most Americans, the lessons of Vietnam were reasonably clear before we invaded Iraq and have been painfully reinforced by the ongoing disaster there:
Don’t fight needless wars; don’t go blundering around in countries where you don’t know the language, history or culture; don’t underestimate the power of nationalism, ethnicity and religion to bind together—or tear apart—people whose interests otherwise seem to diverge or converge; and, most of all, don’t imagine that military force can solve fundamentally political problems.
But the president, who has his own very special set of history books, drew the public’s attention to some entirely different lessons from Vietnam. To Bush, the “unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens.”
Right! To Bush, the tragedy of the Vietnam War is that we didn’t let it drag on for another decade or so.