Bush and his “Iraq as Vietnam” analogy

Courtesy of Larry M:


(A few quotations you won’t see on Fox News (especially the last two :)

“‘I couldn’t believe it. . .Far more Vietnamese died during the war than in the aftermath of the US withdrawal. . . [It] is not revisionist history. It is fantasy history,’
–Allen Lichtman (historian, American University)


“‘I don’t think what happened in Cambodia after the war has anything to do with Iraq, . .Is he saying we should have invaded Cambodia? That’s what we would have had to do, and we would have never done that. I don’t see how he draws the parallel.’
–Melvin Laird (sec. of def. under President Nixon, 1969-1973)


“‘This was history written by speechwriters without regard to history. . ..And I think most military historians will find it painful. . . . because in basic historical terms the president misstated what happened in Vietnam. . . .One sits sort of in awe at the lack of historical comparability.’
–Anthony Cordesman (military analyst)


“‘If we get into a Vietnam argument, the country is divided, but if you are going to try sell this concept that the blood is on the American people’s hands because we left and were weak-kneed in Asia, that is a very tenuous and inane historical argument”
–Douglas Brinkley (historian)


“What is Mr. Bush suggesting?  We should have stayed there forever?  We should have invaded North Vietnam?  It just doesn’t make any historical sense to me.”
–Robert Dalleck (presidential historian)


“The speech was an act of desperation to scare the American people into staying the course in Iraq. He’s distorted the facts, painting all of the people in Iraq as being on the same side which is simply not the case. Iraq is a religious civil war.”
— Lawrence Korb (assistant defense secretary under President Reagan)


“Bush is cherry-picking history to support his case for staying the course. What I learned in Vietnam is that U.S. forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it’s going to get.”
— Ret. Army Brig. Gen. John Johns (counterinsurgency expert who served in Vietnam)


“The president emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early. It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets.”
— Steven Simon (senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations)


“He’s [Bush] tried all along to say this is not Vietnam. By invoking Vietnam he raised the automatic question, well, if you’ve learned so much from history, Mr. President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire? Why didn’t you learn up front about the perils of Vietnam and what we faced there? . . .

“But here’s the other point, that if you look at Vietnam today, you have to say that Vietnam at the end, after 30 years, has actually become quite a driving country. It’s a very strong economy. So there are those who say, yes, when we pull back there were bloodbaths in the immediate aftermath, but after that the Vietnamese started putting their country together. Is that not what we want Iraq to do over the long term? . . .

“[And] the other issue and why it’s dangerous territory for him to go into Vietnam and the Vietnam analogy is reason we lost Vietnam in part was because we had no strategy. And the problem we’ve got now in Iraq, what is the strategy for victory? If the strategy for victory is let our troops give the Maliki government enough time to get everything solved, and the Maliki government is going nowhere, as everybody now admits, you know, what strategy are we facing? What strategy do we have to win in Iraq? It’s not clear we have a winning strategy in Iraq. And that’s what cost us Vietnam, and that’s why we eventually withdrew under humiliating circumstances.”
–David Gergen (presidential adviser)


“He’s [Bush] saying, essentially, that 58,000 dead in Vietnam weren’t quite enough, that maybe we should have twice as big a tragic memorial on the Mall.

“And who’s saying it? A man who chose not to serve, took steps, used family friends to get out of serving in Vietnam, didn’t even show up for his own Guard duty, so that better, braver men could fight that war. He stood before those better, braver men today a coward in the company of heroes.”
–Paul Begala (Democratic strategist)


“As in Vietnam, we engaged militarily in Iraq based on official deception.. As in Vietnam, more American soldiers are being sent to fight and die in a civil war we can’t stop and an insurgency we can’t bomb into submission. If the President wants to heed the lessons of Vietnam, he should change course and change course now.”
–Sen. John Kerry


“QUESTION: Mr. President…some people are comparing Iraq to Vietnam and talking about a quagmire.  [H]ow do you answer the Vietnam comparison?

“THE PRESIDENT: 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.”
–George W. Bush (April 13, 2004 press conference)


QUESTION: Do you see. . .a parallel between what’s going on in Iraq now and Vietnam?



PRESIDENT BUSH: Because there’s a duly-elected government; 12 million people voted. They said, we want something different from tyranny, we want to live in a free society. And not only did they vote for a government, they voted for a constitution. Obviously, there is sectarian violence, but this is, in many ways, religious in nature, and I don’t see the parallels.
–George W. Bush (June 14, 2006 press conference)
Sources: Dan Froomkin’s White House Watch blog in WashingtonPost.com; Media Matters for America; the Boston Globe; ABC News; NBC News

Published in: on August 23, 2007 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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