Bush has been reflecting on lessons the war in Vietnam could offer, apparently an analogy so obscure and arcane that he couldn’t see it until he actually went to Vietnam. The result of this reflection is giving me a headache:
“We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while. It’s just going to take a long period of time for the ideology that is hopeful – and that is an ideology of freedom – to overcome an ideology of hate.
“We’ll succeed unless we quit”
In Vietnam, we failed for a long time fighting the war and not quitting, until we quit, having conclusively failed to win. Then after a long time, Vietnam became united, and less Marxist and oppressive in practice than North Vietnam, which were two successes we were seeking. Another success that seems to have had nothing to with fighting or not fighting there was the non-falling of Asian dominoes, and the non-repelling of Communist hordes from the beach in San Diego. They didn’t fall when we weren’t quitting, and then they went on not falling when we did quit. Are we to think that if we had left Vietnam early, with less Agent Orange, less unexploded munitions, and fewer dead Vietnamese and Americans strewn about, things would have unfolded much worse, with dominos falling and no trade visits now? That Vietnam now is actually a failure, which we could have avoided by continuing to fail at war but not quit, perhaps until now?
What this means for Iraq is Delphic, Gnostic, cryptic, and too deep for me. To assure a good future for Iraq, we need to go on failing at fighting for a long time, maybe a few more years, and then quit? Never quit, so things take a really long time, because that will make them better?
He also, according to the BBC, “denied that the rising number of Iraqi and US military deaths meant the Iraq campaign was failing.” It’s absurd to infer that he would think fewer deaths a sign of failure, so I guess he’s privy to some completely different indicator of success, one that trumps people getting blown up and assassinated and similar irrelevant stuff that deceives the naive. Is this other indicator in the news, and did I miss it? Hours of electricity on, oil exports? The only think I know that’s up nicely in Iraq that he might be thinking about is cumulative looting by contractors…but even that one is down on a monthly basis lately.
Vietnam: failed until we quit, then we succeeded. Lesson for Iraq: fail if we do quit, so don’t quit. If you get confused, just surf back to this page and review this.
Read this blog, folks, for incisive clarifying analysis that helps you understand the world better. Except, of course, those times when you just get to watch one of us wander cluelessly around in the fog.