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Dear Dubya, So You're Saying Vietnam Just Didn't Go On Long Enough

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Dear Mr. Bush,


We needed another Vietnam, and you gave us one. Only this time we'll stay longer and finish the job, you suggested in your speech Wednesday.

Good for you. You've finally admitted what some of us have been saying since 2003. Iraq is like Vietnam.

Of course your memory of Vietnam's a lot different from most of ours. You could say it's new and improved. Like most works of creative nonfiction--or is it outright fiction--your story of Vietnam reads a lot better in the rewrite, because rewriting allows you to leave out some of the distasteful or redundant parts. Like, for instance, the untidy little story of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed in August 1964 in direct response to a minor naval skirmish. It would've hardly been news-worthy except that it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a declaration of war by Congress, to use military force in Southeast Asia. Then there's the matter of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/k/khmer_rouge/index.html?inline=nyt-org. It's easy to forget that Cambodia was a beautiful country--some considered it a paradise--until we began bombing hell out of it, which brought about a coup, against its beloved Prince Sihanouk, by Lon Nol, the dictator we supported. Our bombing and strong military support of Lon Nol helped bring about a revolution of the peasants and middle class, and so the country turned to Pol Pot, a genocidal Stalinist who thought he'd bring on a an age of peace and brotherhood by emptying the cities and killing most of the intellectuals. Of course, you simplify that part, by suggesting it was our leaving that unleashed Pol Pot, rather than our meddling.

So, again, congratulations. You've managed to obscure history for a whole new generation. Tell me though, which came first? The idea that we needed another Vietnam? Or the quagmire in Iraq? Either way it fits the bill.

First, like Vietnam, Iraq's a long ways from home.

Second, the war has lined the pockets of all your friends in the military and arms and aerospace industries, plus many in the media, just as Vietnam did for your daddy's cronies in Texas and elsewhere.

Third, Vietnam was based on a series of big lies we were told at the time, like these, endlessly repeated in the "liberal media."

1. Vietnam was in league with Russia and China. Those communists were all in it together.

2. They provoked us to the breaking point by firing on our ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

3. Unless defeated, the Viet Cong would swallow southeast Asia.

4. The South Vietnamese were democracy-loving allies.

Compare that to the big lies and innuendos of Iraq.

1. Saddam was in league with al-Qaeda. They were all in it together.

2. They attacked us on 9/11, and so we had to fight back by invading Iraq.

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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, short story writer, freelancer, and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the (more...)
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