August 22, 2007

Iraqi insurgents = Al-Qaeda = Khmer Rouge.

To most people, the logical leaps needed to make that equation would be impossible, but nothing is too difficult for our Dear Leader.

In a speech given to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars earlier today in Kansas City, Dubya unloaded some of the most preposterous misunderstandings (and outright lies) about the world's history since the Second World War that this magpie has had the misfortune to hear. For example, the prez said that the US was responsible for the decolonization of Asia and after 1945. (It wasn't.) He likened the 'war on terror' to the war against Japan and the Korean war. (As a historian, I can't think of any significant similarities.) And he attributed the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia to the fact that the US withdrew its troops from Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. (In fact, the success of the Khmer Rouge was due to a CIA-sponsored coup that replaced a neutralist government with one more sympathetic to US war aims in Vietnam. The Khmer Rouge wouldn't have had a chance without a US-backed enemy to fight against.)

However, all that pseudo-history pales when compared to Dubya's main contention: If the US withdraws from Iraq, Al-Qaeda will not only wreak destruction on the Iraqi people like that suffered by Cambodians in the Khmer Rouge years, but Osama bin Laden will bring a similar reign of terror here to the US.

Bin Laden has declared that "the war [in Iraq] is for you [the US] or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever." Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror -- but it's the central front -- it's the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again. And it's the central front for the United States and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating.

If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits. As we saw on September the 11th, a terrorist safe haven on the other side of the world can bring death and destruction to the streets of our own cities. Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home. And that is why, for the security of the United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America.

This, of course, completely ignores the facts that 1) there was no al-Qaeda threat in Iraq prior to the US-led invasion; 2) Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; and 3) the US occupation of Iraq is what has turned that country into a terrorist magnet and training ground. But hey, facts never get in Dubya's way when he's trying to support some stupid policy that he's already committed himself to.

If you have a strong stomach, I strongly suggest reading Dubya's whole speech. I'm sure the GOP is already sending out talking points based on what he said, so you might as well get a good handle on the arguments for the occupation that the 30-percenters will be tossing at you between now and when the administration has to make its Iraq progress report to Congress next month.

Posted by Magpie at August 22, 2007 02:54 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

The Khmer Rouge also rose to power because they were the only group that reacted publicly, negatively and firmly against the then-secret bombing of Cambodia by the US. (Nothing like reacting to fear with authoritarian regimes, eh?)

And to equate Pearl harbor or the sneak attack across the demarcation line established between the Soviets and Americans after World War 2 in Korea in 1950 with 9/11 is way, way disingenuous. (It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth, in that in both historic cases, we reacted publicly with a "they are lesser peoples" attitude. Are we now to act that way towards anyone that originates from the Third World?)

The closest thing the BushCo can come to America decolonizing Asia was when FDR attempted to make clear to France, the Netherlands and England that the Second World War hadn't happened so that they could re-establish their colonies. This mindset passed away with FDR, however, reinforced by the debacle in China in the late 1940s.

My two bits...

Posted by: palamedes at August 22, 2007 04:14 PM

Anyone who makes this logic leap will shortly add "Iran =" to it.

Bush is creating new unique perceptions of history and managing to think his critics and not him are the naive "Quiet American," I haven't seen this much 180 degree logic since accidentally hearing Rush Limbaugh argue that Democrats and liberals were an example of Eric Hofler's "The True Believer."

Posted by: Gary Denton at August 23, 2007 12:54 AM

Didn't go over well with the punditry, either:

... Academians and political commentators also jumped into the fray. The New York Times reports Bush "is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies." A second New York Times story says many historians "quarreled with his drawing analogies from the causes of that turmoil to predict what might happen in Iraq should the United States withdraw." Likewise, NBC Nightly News reported, "Some historians claim" Bush's "use today of Vietnam was too simple and not accurate." The CBS Evening News said, "Historian Douglas Brinkley says there's no real parallel" between Iraq and Vietnam. Brinkley was shown saying, "You're not going to be able to sell the lessons of Vietnam being we should have stayed a decade longer."

CNN political analyst and former Clinton strategist Paul Begala said on CNN's The Situation Room, "He's saying, essentially, that 58,000 dead in Vietnam weren't quite enough, that maybe we should have twice as big a tragic memorial on the Mall. And who's saying it? A man who chose not to serve." Joseph Galloway, in an analysis piece for McClatchy, writes, "Year-by-year, month-by-month, now even day-to-day, we're treated to a different rationale for the Iraq war from a different...Bush." ...

Posted by: natasha at August 23, 2007 06:36 AM