Monday, May 31, 2004

Fred and Bart Go Deep, Drown; Part Two

Now we take a look at Bartholomew Sullivan's article from this Sunday, titled "Vietnam, Iraq: How alike are they?" Pretty much states the thesis right there. Unsurprisingly, Bart answers "Yes." But then, Sullivan is an unreconstructed Great Society liberal.

Put on your waders, as this one gets mighty deep:
Whether it's the murky rationale for the war, international opposition to America's unilateral approach, initial public support followed by disillusionment, the suggestion of profiteering or the shame caused by high-profile misbehavior toward civilians, many Americans see clear parallels between the country's experiences in Vietnam and Iraq.
And right away we see Sullivan's agenda. "Many" Americans? No, only those with a particular political agenda. There was nothing "murky" in how the war in Iraq got started. Most American's aren't "disillusioned," as polls still show. He's using language vague enough to support his point without having to back it up.

His next paragraph supposedly shows the "other" side:
For others, though, the scope, duration, context and purpose of intervention in Iraq - and the goals of a "war on terrorism" - have no legitimate comparison with any past conflicts. They say the ventures abroad that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were an immediate response to real threats, unlike the gradual buildup in Southeast Asia to thwart an ideological menace. To them, the nature - and reality - of the threats are different.
Notice the language of these two paragraphs. Supporters of the analogy are "Americans." Those who don't support it are "others," "they," and "them." Pretty clear isn't it?
Politicians, especially, say they see no comparison between America's lost cause in Vietnam and the rough going depicted on television screens and front pages today.
"[R]ough going depicted..." made me laugh. Sure, if you only follow the papers and the news! Thankfully, we now have the Internet to see what the agenda-setters at those gate-keepers don't show. Try Winds of Change, the Command Post, Citizen Smash or these Iraqi bloggers for a view of the Iraqi War that may surprise you, since it has success, progress, happiness, gratitude, selflessness and humility.

The folks that Sullivan talks with are an oddly selected bunch: politicians first, and then academics and military historians. He doesn't talk with soldiers at all. Pretty much all of them, especially the military historians, flatly refute what Sullivan tries to argue!

The real fun is toward the end.:
Twinned images in popular culture suggest other Vietnam-Iraq links:

Walter Cronkite telling us "that's the way it was" and Ted Koppel reading the names of the dead; napalmed children and bombed wedding parties; B52s raining terror on Hanoi and precision bunker busters hammering empty palaces in Baghdad; Vietnamization and Iraqization - the gradual transfer of American obligations to local troops; My Lai and Abu Ghraib.

And then there are Lyndon Johnson's and Dick Cheney's connections to a big construction company responsible for massive military projects: Once called Brown & Root, when it built facilities in South Vietnam, it's now Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary.
No! And don't forget that the women who exposed the coverup of military coffins at Dover were also Halliburton! The Presidents who got us deeper into the wars were Democrats and the ones who determined to put an end to the mess were Republican. It's conspiracy everywhere, I tell you.

That Cronkite/Koppel paragraph is a howler. Random things plucked from the mediasphere are contrasted as though there is equivalence. "Iraqization?" Did he make that up? Directly comparing My Lai and Abu Ghraib? Jeez....
Crawford noted two other similarities. The fighting and dying is still largely relegated to soldiers from the lowest socioeconomic strata, he said.
This is demonstrably untrue. Today's armed forces are majority white and professional. Read these comments from Lance from another post down below:
The leftist meme that the US military is predominantly comprised of minorities and working class folks is bull. In my NG unit (headed to Iraq this fall), we have physician's assistants and doctors that can't wait to go. We also have 2 lawyers - one is an armored ambulance driver, the other does administrative stuff, but neither do JAG work - who can't wait to deploy. Today's soldiers like the fact that WE ALL VOLUNTEERED. It makes discipline and unit cohesiveness much easier. Nobody wants conscripts.
That Sullivan repeats a disproven stereotype with total assurance that it's true should tell the reader volumes about Sullivan's prejudices.

He ends with this:
Pohlmann found a last parallel that today's political leaders may hope they can forestall.

The Iraqi people who side with the United States may find their roles untenable in the long run, he said, like the crowds of Vietnamese refugees news photographers captured in April 1975 seeking a place on the last helicopters departing from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

"I think you're going to see somewhat the same ending," he said.
This isn't a parallel because one side is a supposition, not a fact or event! Sullivan is reduced to making up an ending to the Iraqi War (and once again, notice how he ends it) to make his argument.

It's a shame to see the Commercial Appeal waste so much space on such limp and flaccidly buttressed articles. I have no problem with opinion pieces, only with ones which set out a thesis and then cheat like hell, in a brazen way, to make it.

Shame on the Commercial Appeal.

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