Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush Cites Lessons for Iraq in Vietnam - New York Times

David Seaton's News Links
Reading this story I was really struck at how painful the next two years are going to be. How deeply embarrassing not just for Americans, but for nearly everyone. There is an expression in Spanish, "verguenza ajena", which describes the embarrassment you can feel for others: a smiling lady with spinach in her teeth; an after dinner speaker with his fly open. I think if the USA weren't so busy killing and torturing and imprisoning people without trial many people would begin feeling truly sorry for Americans. DS

Abstract: In his first day in the capital of a country that was America’s wartime enemy during his youth, President Bush said today that the American experience in Vietnam contained lessons for the war in Iraq. Chief among them, he said, was that “we’ll succeed unless we quit.” “We tend to want there to be instant success in the world,” Mr. Bush said after a lunch with Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, “and the task in Iraq is going to take a while.”(...) the day was filled with jarring imagery. There was Mr. Bush in the palace in the center of this most gracious of Asian cities, being greeted in the former palace of the French governor general of Indochina by President Nguyen Minh Triet. The welcoming ceremony took place in a high-ceilinged, European-style hall dominated by a huge statue of Ho Chi Minh. Mr. Bush sat and chatted with Mr. Triet as Ho’s bearded visage looked over them. Mr. Bush spoke of driving by the lake where Senator John McCain’s plane crashed nearly 40 years ago, focusing less on Mr. McCain’s long imprisonment afterward than on the fact that “he was, literally, saved, in one way, by the people pulling him out.”(...) For Mr. Bush, who had never set foot in Vietnam before, this visit is something of a tightrope walk. America’s defeat here is increasingly being mentioned in comparison with how Iraq may turn out, and Mr. Bush was careful to stress that in Iraq, unlike Vietnam, defeat is not an option for the United States. “The Maliki government is going to make it unless the coalition leaves before they have a chance to make it,” he said of Iraq’s prime minister. “And that’s why I assured the prime minister we’ll get the job done.” In private, some White House officials concede that Mr. Bush’s visit to Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, scheduled many months ago, is proving to be spectacularly poorly timed, because of all the uncomfortable parallels between the two wars. READ IT ALL

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