Sunday, August 26, 2007

Come back Karl Rove, all is forgiven: FULL TEXT

Come back Karl Rove, all is forgiven
Without Bush's Brain in the White House, the wheels are starting to fall off. Just look at the president's last speech.

Ian Williamss
August 23, 2007 9:00 PM |
There can have been few speeches more laughable than George Bush's latest. Referring to books he has surely never read, laden with specious historical parallels guaranteed to turn round and bite him in the bum, it is one long "speechwriter wanted at the White House" ad.

But bad speechwriting notwithstanding, didn't the president remember that Karl Rove's parting words were almost certainly "Don't mention Vietnam"? The parallels are obvious: a prolonged war started on false pretences in which untold thousands on both sides die and the US is eventually driven out anyway.

Quite apart from the historical echoes - the Tonkin Gulf Incident and the invented weapons of mass destruction - it has to be a definition of chutzpah for George Bush, of all people, to turn up at all at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. But to invoke Vietnam really takes the prize.

This was, after all, the war that he made his very own by spending five years actively avoiding participation. While his father left school immediately to fly in combat in world war two, as Vietnam heated up George W flew - to Texas, to join the Texas Air National Guard, a nepotistic boondoggle. Even that eventually proved too much for him - so he deserted. This was not a war he disagreed with. On the contrary, he took time off from his arduous and perilous National Guard service to campaign for politicians who wanted the war to continue.

And now he has the absolute gall to say that more Americans, more Cambodians, more Laotians, more Vietnamese should have died, and the war that he was dodging should have been continued.

He is, of course, quite right about the totalitarian nature of the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge. But that leaves out a few details. That would of course be the Khmer Rouge whose accession to power was made possible by the American bombing of neutral Cambodia that led to the overthrow of the Sihanouk regime. It would also be the Khmer Rouge regime that was allowed to keep its UN seat even after it had been driven into the jungle - because Britain, China and the US insisted that it was the legitimate government.

The Vietnamese government is the one that is now hosting American trade delegations on a daily basis, and allowing American teams to search for US war dead.
In his speech, Bush laughably cited Graham Green's "Quiet American" as typical of the Leftist thinking that led to the defeat in Vietnam. Anyone want a bet on whether he has ever read the book? We do know he is unlikely to have seen the very good film version with Michael Caine, because Hollywood, following 9/11, refused to give it commercial showing. The idea that Americans could arrange bombings was too sensitive, and may have interrupted the process of demonization that Bush and Cheney were fomenting.

Bush also invoked Pearl Harbour and the fight against the Japanese empire as the equivalent of fighting back against Al Qaeda after 9/11. But attacking Iraq was the equivalent of invading Argentina after Pearl Harbour while giving Japan a free pass.

Bush withdrew forces from Afghanistan to attack Iraq - which is why the turbaned poster boy is still free. Last year the president told the same convention: "Victory will come when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation". This year he told the veterans: "The terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity. And so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war against the terrorists".

As chicken and eggs go, this is the big one. Saddam's Iraq was totalitarian, vicious, and belligerent, but it had nothing to do with al-Qaida. "Victory" was in our hands because Iraq, for all its faults, was al-Qaeda free before 2003. It was the invasion that wrested "victory" from our hands.

And while George Bush was only marginally responsible for inciting war in Vietnam and dodging it, in Iraq the buck stops on his desk for yet another pointless conflict heading for failure. And he stands to be condemned for his inane speeches. Karl Rove has indeed left with the president's brain.

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