Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CNN entertains Bush’s desperate Vietnam comparison

Today:’s story “Bush invokes 'tragedy of Vietnam' against Iraq pullout” is perfectly representative of the type of uncritical, play-along journalism that facilitated the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The article describes Bush’s most recent reframing of the Iraq quagmire, in the form of a Kansas City speech clearly not conceived nor written by the Commander in Chief:

Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields'.

Eloquent, but grossly misleading. Bush and the anonymous CNN journalist both fail to mention the millions of civilians killed by the wars themselves, as the Iraqi civilian death toll approaches seven figures. Both also fail to mention the obvious manipulations of events and evidence to build a case for the wars, with the belligerent though fictitious Vietnamese ship in the Gulf of Tonkin and the weapons of mass destruction and terrorist links that never existed in Iraq. I remember when former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura made this observation, then just out of office, on David Letterman some five years ago. Somehow, however, those elected to represent our interests today just can’t bring themselves to call it what it is. Even in his attempt to criticize the president’s foolish analysis, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid misses the boat as well:

President Bush's attempt to compare the war in Iraq to past military conflicts in East Asia ignores the fundamental difference between the two. Our nation was misled by the Bush administration in an effort to gain support for the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, leading to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our history.

If Iraq is “one of” our biggest screw-ups, Vietnam is probably the mother of them all. Even though the American death toll is not yet anywhere near the 58,000 killed in Vietnam, there are many more parallels than differences between the two. The “fundamental difference” Reid was searching for seems to be little more than in the scale of the conflicts and the type of terrain on which they were engaged. He only got it half right, which, for the 2006 Democratic majority, is a major success. Furthermore, if the war in Iraq continues for a couple more years, the difference between its impact and that of Vietnam will be innocuous.

And so CNN misses yet another opportunity to think critically about Bush propaganda, instead providing a platform for his faulty analogies to American successes in Japan and South Korea. A black and white photograph of the North Vietnamese taking over the presidential palace in South Vietnam in 1975 is included for good measure.

In the same article, CNN mentions that 72 percent of this nation’s citizens will remain opposed to the war even if General Petraeus’s September report on Iraq is positive. Who is writing this stuff? There’s little wonder the author’s name is not given. Statistically, there is a good chance he or she is not even an American.


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