Saturday, January 29, 2005

The New York Times Repeats Itself

On the eve of Iraq's historic elections, what better occasion for the New York Times to trot out the "Iraq as Vietnam" analogy:

"I think one lesson is that there be a clear objective that everybody understands," Mr. Bush said in an interview with The New York Times this week, reflecting on the relevance of Vietnam today. "A free, democratic Iraq, an ally in the war on terror, with an Iraqi army, all parts of it - Iraqi forces, army, national guard, border guard, police force - able to defend itself. Secondly, that people understand the connection between that goal and our future."

But the difficulties of achieving such objectives, then and now, have led a range of military experts, historians and politicians to consider the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq to warn of potential pitfalls ahead. Nearly two years after the American invasion of Iraq, such comparisons are no longer dismissed in mainstream political discourse as facile and flawed, but are instead bubbling to the top.

"Flashback to the 60's: A Sinking Sensation of Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam", New York Times, January 30, 2005

I'm too jaded by the unrelenting defeatism of the elite media to be offended very much by it anymore. If anything, the Times's use of the Vietnam comparison is a positive omen, given their previous track record:

Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. Today, for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to "a limited number of the various opposition elements."

"A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam", New York Times, October 31, 2001

Within two weeks of this article's publication, Afghan and US forces had seized Kabul and routed the Taliban from most of the country. Let's hope the Times's uncanny record of prognostication continues.


Post a Comment

<< Home