Aug 21, 2007

Still Mad at the Hippies

There is at least one person in DC who would benefit from reading a book it could be argued may have been written with him in mind, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Vietnam War. That person, were he planning to draw comparisons to a bungled war to justify resistance to pulling out of another bungled war, would do well to read it.

When anti-war advocates compare the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Vietnam, it is a reference to the inability of the Nixon administration to accept the impossibility of "winning," the incomprehension by the pro-war crowd of what was going on culturally and politically in Vietnam (and in this country, as it turns out,) the unethical if not outright illegal actions perpetrated by some overwhelmed and disillusioned US soldiers upon the citizens there they were supposed to be "saving" from communism, the lies told to the public by the Johnson and Nixon administrations to conceal the secret bombing of civilian sites and the atrocious conditions that wounded soldiers encountered at veterans hospitals upon their return to the US.

Is it just me or do the Bushies sound like they are trying to make the comparison in a good way? Transparency may not be the first word that comes to mind when describing the Bush-Cheney regime but there are areas where not even the most "re-languaged" pronouncements can obscure the thoughts behind them.

Vietnam was a strategic position that the US attempted to claim as part of the Cold War. Like the Vietnam War, the Iraq War is also about strategic advantage, which this time is a nice way to avoid saying it's a war for oil. Both wars are dressed up to look like the US government actually cares about innocent citizens of those countries (That's Christopher Hitchens's job.) or protecting US citizens from terrorists or communists or whatever, just not global warming, okay?

What's next? Blaming the leaking of the Pentagon Papers for confusing the American public? Proclaiming the Watergate break-in a patriotic act? Hiring a Fox News anchor to be the president's spokeman? Turning Sean Penn into the new Hanoi Jane? Allowing Henry Kissinger to weigh in? (Oops, the last three have already happened.)

In the build-up to Paetreus's report in September, the propaganda machine will be running full on to "re-language" history. And if you believe it, may I interest you in some infrastructure?

Mining the deep vein of resilient anger still evoked by the anti-war movement in the 1960s (along with the civil and women's rights movements and the sexual revolution,) has served the right wing's ends before. This time, the neocons have learned from the mistakes that were made during the Vietnam War: It's the PR, stupid. Now, with a vast right wing media in place and their star water carriers brandishing their buckets, this is their chance to settle an old score as well as a shot at buying time as they once again stumble toward the mirage of victory in a far off land.