August 27, 2007
Written by C.N.
You may have heard that President Bush recently tried to use the legacy of the Viet Nam to his advantage by saying that if the U.S. would have stayed in the Viet Nam War longer then it perhaps could have even won or at least prevented the rise of communist regimes such as the Khmer Rouge. Clearly this is his attempt to counter his critics who are increasingly comparing the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq to that in Viet Nam. Not surprisingly, his critics here in the U.S. and in Viet Nam have jumped on this analogy as another sign that Bush is completely out of touch with reality:
People in Vietnam . . . said Thursday that Mr. Bush drew the wrong conclusions from the long, bloody Southeast Asian conflict. “Doesn’t he realize that if the U.S. had stayed in Vietnam longer, they would have killed more people?” said Vu Huy Trieu of Hanoi, a veteran of the communist forces that fought American troops in Vietnam. “Nobody regrets that the Vietnam War wasn’t prolonged except Bush.” . . .
Ton Nu Thi Ninh, former chairwoman of the National Assembly’s committee on foreign affairs, said Mr. Bush was unwise to stir up sensitive memories of the Vietnam War. “The price we, the Vietnamese people on both sides, paid during the war was due to the fact that the Americans went into Vietnam in the first place,” Ninh said.
Mr. Bush’s comments drew criticism from politicians and historians who claimed he did not understand the lessons of the Vietnam War or was using the wrong historical lessons to sell our military’s continued presence in Iraq. . . .
“The president emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early,” said Steven Simon, a Mideast expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to (Khmer Rouge leader) Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay, the worse it gets.”
I don’t even know where to begin here. First of all, it’s rather ironic that Bush is lecturing us on the Viet Nam War since he purposely did everything he could to avoid serving his country and joining the military at the time. Second, I will leave it up to his critics who can much more eloquently explain the logical fallacies of his argument that the U.S. should have stayed longer, other than to say that this is the same logic he’s been using to keep doing the same old, same old stuff in Iraq.
Ultimately, I think the larger question is, would I, my family, and the entire Vietnamese American community have been better off if the U.S. would have stayed out of Viet Nam altogether? My answer is, to be perfectly honest, if there would have been no U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War, I don’t think I would be here living in the U.S.
In fact, I am confident that in absolute and relative terms, my life would be worse off today if the U.S. never got involved (I might even say I may have never even been born since my parents met each other when they were both working for the U.S. military in Saigon).
As I have said repeatedly, I am eternally thankful for the U.S. in giving me and about a million other Vietnamese Americans the chance to start a new life here where we have basic individual freedoms that billions of people around the world do not have.
My quarrel is not with American society — it’s with politicians like Bush who try to rewrite history to fit their political agenda.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Bush’s Vietnam-Iraq Analogy" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/08/bushs-vietnam-iraq-analogy/> ().
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