Tigerhawk demolishes the suddenly ubiquitous meme that George Bush "accepted" that Iraq is like Vietnam. As usual, the press is wrong. That is not – at all – what was said. It is also not – at all – what Bush meant.
Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.
"He could be right," the president said, before adding, "There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."
Here's what Think Progress said he said:
President Bush is right to finally admit that violence in Iraq has reached a tipping point, and that the U.S. is not winning the war as he has claimed.
That is, of course, not what the President said. He merely agreed that there was an appropriate comparison to be made between the Tet offensive and the violence we are seeing in Iraq today. I agree. The question is, what was the lesson of Tet (the all-out offensive of the Viet Cong in early 1968, at the time of the "Tet" new year holiday in Vietnam)?
At the time the media perceived and promoted the Tet offensive as a great victory for the enemy. In an age when the network anchors deployed truly awesome power, Walter Cronkite destroyed Lyndon Johnson's chances for re-election when he editorialized that we were "mired in stalement". President Johnson declared "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America," and withdrew from the 1968 presidential campaign.
Tet, however, was not a military disaster for the United States. Quite to the contrary, history has revealed that the Tet offensive was in fact a crushing defeat for the Viet Cong, and effectively required that the Communists conquer the South by invasion from the North, rather than by civil insurgency. The Viet Cong were only able to turn a military disaster into strategic victory by persuading the American media that the United States was mired in stalement. With the domestic political support for the war fading fast, the United States decided to withdraw from Indochina, even though it would take Nixon and Kissinger another four years to accomplish it.
I have long argued that the media and the American left robbed America of victory, or at least of a different and better outcome in Vietnam. When the last helicopter left Saigon, we left behind a mess that condemned enormous numbers of people to a harsh death. The "Domino effect" that many pooh-poohed actually occurred. Our abandonment of our allies left the thugs in Vietnam and Cambodia a free hand. The thugs used it, and many died as a result.
A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq will KILL tens of thousands, if not substantially more than that. Potentially it could kill more – in reality – than the fictional number the Lancet study spewed up. But the left does not care. Despite their protestations, they simply do not care how many die so long as they get their way here. Just like they did not – and do not – care how many Vietnamese corpses they caused. Just like they did not – and do not – care how meaningless their own actions rendered the deaths of thousands of their own countrymen.
Tet was a disaster for the Viet Cong. It took the media and the American left to make it a victory. In that respect, Bush is exactly right. The media and the left are at it again in exactly the same fashion.