Bush: 58,196 U.S. Dead in Viet Nam Not Enough

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President Bush displayed enormous ignorance and simple minded thinking before thousands of Veterans in his speech in Kansas City, today. He said: "the legacy of Viet Nam was that our withdrawal cost large human suffering in Viet Nam and Cambodia after our departure." Meaning, had he then been president, the U.S. death toll would have grown far larger, since he would not have withdrawn. But, there's much more.

This is the same reasoning which forces Bush to remain in Iraq and entertain no other options. But, this reasoning begs the question: Why does he believe that thousands of Iraqis killing Iraqis after our leaving far outweighs thousands of our own soldier's losses by remaining? If President Bush appears stumped in this photo taken at the speech, it is because he is, by his own limitations. Following are some of the more glaring GW Bush limitations which he talks as if he is unaware of, and likely is.

Bush at VFW speechPres. Bush in 2004 when asked about parallels between Viet Nam and Iraq, said they aren't justified, they harm our troops, and help our enemy. Then today, he drew parallels between Viet Nam and Iraq of his own volition. Is he trying to harm our troops and aid our enemies as he said such parallels do in 2004? Or, is his ignorance of history and absence of complex thinking digging an even deeper hole for his poll ratings, and desertions from the Republican Party to the Independent voter class?

Col. Eaton said on Hardball, Bush had re-opened wounds for Americans. He was speaking for himself as well, since his father's name is engraved on the Viet Nam Memorial. Pres. Bush is now trying to use the Viet Nam example as justification for continuing the steady rise of American deaths in Iraq; in essence saying, there is no price to high for Americans to pay to permit him to justify his invasion of Iraq. It seemed clear to me that when Pres. Bush spoke of the legacy of Viet Nam, it was his own legacy that motivated his blatant contradiction of his own words in 2004.

Sen. John Kerry had a potent response to Pres. Bush's remarks. Kerry said

"Invoking the tragedy of Vietnam to defend the failed policy in Iraq is as irresponsible as it is ignorant of the realities of both of those wars," Senator Kerry said. "Half of the soldiers whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after the politicians knew our strategy would not work. The lesson is to change the strategy not just to change the rhetoric. ... 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.

President Bush's limited capacity for complex thinking was demonstrated in his following remark in the same speech: "Despite the mistakes that have been made, despite the problems we have encountered, seeing the Iraqis through as they build their democracy is critical to keeping the American people safe from the terrorists who want to attack us." President Bush reveals here, his black and white, forward or back, two choice only thinking.

In reality, there are many options for aiding Iraq and buying Iraq time, while substantially removing our forces from Iraq at the same time. But, such plans are complicated, sophisticated, and require a combination of diplomacy with regional Iraqi neighbors, pressure in the U.N., and announcing a date certain for the beginning of drawing down our troops in a controlled and secure manner, which both puts regional nations on notice that they must step forward by a date certain or face the consequences, and permits them the time and opportunity to increment their efforts and peacekeeping forces in an orderly fashion in step with our phased withdrawal.

But, clearly, President Bush is incapable of entertaining such a complex idea in his mind, let alone in his policy approach. Combined with his desperately short time to salvage some kind of positive legacy from his war in Iraq, it is clear the Bush Administration will write Gen. David Petraeus's report to call for more time and more troops, to expand the very limited success of the surge in al-Anbar Province to other areas, while also expanding the American death and casualty tolls.

The success in al-Anbar is as much due to the tribal leader's fear of, and fight against an al-Queda takeover, as to the U.S. surge that helped repel al-Queda to other areas of Iraq farther North in this endless game of whack-a-mole: (hit them here forcing them to move there, and start all over again). Whack-a-mole strategy can't work in the long run, precisely because we don't have sufficient troops to hold down the areas we repelled al-Queda from, and follow them to new areas of operation. And the Iraqi forces are still not reliable, often supporting the insurgency (one side or the many others) and even turning a blind eye to attacks on our GI's as reported to congress by Sec. of Defense, Robert Gates.

Much is being made today of the new poll numbers regarding approval rating for Congress put at an historical low of 18%. I have not seen the details of the poll, but, if it was well done, it will have factored in the differing reasons for such low approval. And I have no doubt that a sizable portion of respondents give low marks for Congress' inability to obtain a veto proof bill from enough Republicans to direct the withdrawal from Iraq. And it is clear that the Bush Administration is sending with Bush's speech the talking points to Republican Congressman to stump Democrat's efforts to force a conclusion to the losses of American lives and our children's debt burden resulting from Bush' s stubborn and unrelenting determination to repeat the mistakes of LBJ in Viet Nam, having not a clue that this is precisely what he is doing.

But, let it never be forgot, that Pres. Bush places a far higher value on Iraqis killing Iraqis which he believes he must prevent by keeping our own forces there, than he does on the lives of our own soldiers being killed by Iraqis by remaining there. His thinking on this was absolutely clear in making the case that the death toll in Viet Nam was too low, and that we should not have withdrawn, because the consequence was Vietnamese killing Vietnamese instead of Vietnamese killing Americans. Let it also not be forgot that the fears of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon that failing to engage in Viet Nam would result in communist spread throughout the world, never came to pass.

We must also not forget the killing fields Pres. Bush referred to in Cambodia were NOT as Bush asserted, a result of our withdrawal from Viet Nam, but had begun years before our withdrawal from Viet Nam and the Khmer Rouge were partially prompted to civil war by our bombing runs in Cambodia aided by American sympathizers and paid spies in Cambodia. More history missed by Bush's declaration: "I read books". (Comic books perhaps?)

The President also now seems to be making the argument that the Viet Nam war is responsible for 9/11, since he said our withdrawal from Viet Nam in response to the demand of Americans in the streets encouraged al-Queda to carry out 9/11. His reasoning being that OBL and other terrorists believed Americans have no stomach for war. So, in predictable fashion, Bush is taking his understanding of history from al-Queda? He even said in his speech, we must listen when al-Queda speaks. And apparently, he believes he should give al-Queda the advantage of knowing Bush will do the opposite of whatever al-Queda thinks. That kind of predictability does indeed embolden an enemy, and with good reason.

Pres. Bush is the last person Americans should be taking history lessons from. One has to question whether speech writers were allowed any role in writing Bush's speech. If they were, Bush would do well to ask them to leave his administration along with Rumsfeld, Rove, Libby, Powell et. al. If they weren't, we got a rare glimpse into the abject poverty in the mind of President George W. Bush.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on August 22, 2007 3:41 PM.

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