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January 20, 2006

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I'd be disappointed if Dr. Ngo fails to show up.

From Pike:

At least half (600) of these showed clear evidence of atrocity killings: hands wired behind backs, rags stuffed in mouths, bodies contorted but without wounds (indicating burial alive). The other nearly 600 bore wound marks but there was no way of determining whether they died by firing squad or incidental to the battle.

Okay...so 600 definitely executed. Laderman citing Porter et al puts the number of executed at 400.

Er...is this something worthy of getting outraged over?

Thanks for the detailed post, Charles. A couple of points spring to mind:

(1) Hue was different from My Lai because at least some of the Hue atrocities were carefully planned ahead of time in order to eliminate political opposition. I don't doubt that some of the killings were unplanned, but it's clear that some of them were targeted.

(2) No amount of atrocities by the other side can justify atrocities by our own side. I realize that's not your point here, but the regularity with which atrocities by US personnel lead to comparisons with enemy behavior makes it worth repeating.

Looks as if 600 is half of something, no?

Looks as if 600 is half of something, no?

Ah, pointless. useless "make me want to stop commenting here" snark.

Neither Laderman/Porter Pike seem to dispute the number that can be definitively be attributed to NLF execution.

Thanks for stopping by.

Morality is not a football game with penalties and points, and a trophy at the end for being better than the other guy. I seriously wonder about people and groups that need to look around at others to know whether they are acting well enough or not.
The behavior of others is always, in all cases, absolutely irrelevant.

To get to 600, spart, you have to ignore the Sand Dune fields and Da Mai Creek at the very minimum. They don't hide mass graves for no reason.

...I wrote in comments that the war crimes we committed at My Lai were atrocious, but they paled before the atrocities of the North Vietnamese, citing as an example the slaughter of 5,500 civilians by the North Vietnamese at Hue during the Tet offensive.

These wera atrocious crimes, but they pale before what the Romans committed at Carthage.

Somehow, I always took it for granted that the NV were ruthless and wicked.

I hope CB won't follow up with evidence that the Babi Yar massacre really, really, really did happen.

But it's rather tasteless to mention Hue as if it posed some kind of counter-example to the murders at My Lai.

Bodies were found at Sand Dune fields and Da Mai Creek by, and correct me if I'm wrong, the S. Vietnamese government whose report Pike is basing his scholarship on.

The cause of death of these particular poor souls is not given. Perhaps they were executed. Perhaps their deaths were "incidental".

Tragic, regardless.

What bob mcmanus said.

I'd be disappointed if Dr. Ngo fails to show up.

I'll get on the Batphone later this evening...

Sigh. Chomsky doesn't deny massacres were committed at Hue by the communists. In PEHR (Political Economy of Human Rights) he seems to favor Len Ackland's figure of 700 or so. The Ken White post you cite doesn't contradict Chomsky's apparent preference for a lower estimate. 2500 to 3000 people found in mass graves dead from various causes. In the three graves he's familiar with he says the estimates were that 15 percent were victims of execution-style killings.

There's no doubt (and neither Chomsky nor anyone else I have read denies this) that the VC committed mass murder in Hue. There's some question about the numbers--hundreds or thousands?. It's worth arguing about, if you are a genuinely objective historian or journalist who just wants to know exactly what happened. Those of us who aren't already know that the VC massacred large numbers of people and the US partially demolished Hue in "saving" it, according to its usual practice.

But since you brought up Vietnam, try getting exact figures for the number of civilian dead in either Vietnam or Korea. My Lai and Hue are both drops in a bucket. For Vietnam, a couple hundred thousand, say official American statistics. 400,000 or 600,000-- says American apologist Guenter Lewey. (It's a little hard to tell what figure he means to give in the appendix to "America in Vietnam".) 2 million, says the Vietnamese government these days, along with 1 million military deaths. And try to find out how many civilians died in individual operations. Apparently none at all in Operation Speedy Express, in which the Americans reportedly counted 11,000 bodies and captured 700 weapons. Interesting ratio, that.

It's also fascinating to read about what much of North Vietnam looked like outside Hanoi--a moonscape, says Canadian journalist Michael Maclear in "The Ten Thousand Day War." People lived in caves, as they also did on the Plain of Jars in Laos.

South Vietnam received more bombs, however. What was General Westmoreland's response to Neil Sheehan's question about civilian casualties from air strikes and shelling? "Yes, Neil, it is a problem, but it does deprive the enemy of the population, doesn't it?"

US bombing in Cambodia doesn't really stand out--the Khmer Rouge became genocidal because of the ideology of their leaders, not because of the massive civilian casualties caused by American bombing. But the bombing did recruit for them, as reported by the CIA.

Korea is also kinda interesting--there some of the biggest estimated civilian death tolls at the hands of our massive bombing campaign come from Curtis LeMay--over a million. Professional pride, no doubt.

And speaking of atrocities, there were hundreds of thousands of people murdered in Indonesia at the time, with the approval and probable help from the Americans.

This is all standard cant from lefties like me, but it's all verifiable you know, at least on the planet that we lefties live on. You just have to stop imagining you live in a world where the only high-ranking mass murderers are anti-American.

As for what most Americans know, I doubt many Americans know much about Vietnam outside what they see in movies, and for once the movies probably give the right general sense--both sides were bad. As for the bombing campaign in Korea and the massive death toll claimed for it by the American general, I suspect that's escaped most people's notice.

Can someone competent compare/contrast the 30k/100k body count/sampled estimate conversation about Iraq? Or maybe that's a distraction.

"You just have to stop imagining you live in a world where the only high-ranking mass murderers are anti-American."

Rather doubt there's reason to believe CB imagines he lives in such a world.

I'm not sure what CB thinks. I'm old enough to remember the TIME magazine article on My Lai (I saved it as a kid) and there was this same contrast between Hue and My Lai, where My Lai was an aberration that shocked us and Therefore Proved How Good We Really Were, while Hue was standard operating procedure for the other side. I think the latter point was correct, but the first point could only be maintained by people who use the kind of language Orwell described in "Politics and the English language". CB's post sounded to me very much like that TIME magazine article 30 something years ago.

Hugh Thompson a whistleblower? That's an interesting way to minimize the actions of the man who landed his chopper between Calley's troops and the remaining residents of My Lai and prevented them from continuing the massacre.

First, to call Hugh Thompson a whistleblower is a gross understatement: he didn't drop a dime on someone or send a note to someone. He put himself and his crew between armed American soldiers and the civilians they were attacking and ordered his crew to shoot their countrymen.

Second and more important, what's the point of this rant? Are we seeking the high ground here, that some regimes or field commanders have been more bloodyminded than William Calley or his heirs in atrocity?

This post reminds me of a conversation I had with an American friend three years ago, in which she cited the US's response to My Lai as evidence of how seriously Americans take atrocities committed by American soldiers.

At the time, I actually had no idea what had happened, beyond what I'd picked up in popculture references; I knew that it had been a massacre, committed by US soldiers, and that the senior officer present had been prosecuted. So I let the point drop and the conversation continued.

Later, I looked up My Lai, and discovered that about 500 unarmed civilians had been slaughtered by 150 US soldiers; that, thanks to delays in investigating the crime, most of the soldiers implicated in this atrocity had left the army and were immune from prosecution; that charges were brought against only 25 people, and that of those 25, only half a dozen were court-martialled, and of those, only one, Lieutenant Calley, was convicted. Calley spent less than 4 years in jail for this crime, and was then paroled, with general public approval. No one thinks My Lai was a unique event, but it was unique for Vietnam in that one US soldier was actually convicted of murdering foreign unarmed civilians.

And since then, I've seen that indeed the US's response to My Lai is indeed typical of how seriously Americans take atrocities committed by American soldiers: this post proves that point all over again, if it needed proving.

Jeanne at Body and Soul and Fred at Slacktivist both posted recently pointing out the irony of pro-war conservatives who pay lip service to the memory of Martin Luther King. Fred said it best:

But he didn't retire, he was gunned down. And when that didn't work, he was beatified. That's always much more effective than assassination, or crucifixion.

My memory of the news coverage of the VietNam years is pretty hazy (for many reasons) but it seems to me that Americans had a higher standard for ourselves then than we do now. Yes I remember that there were people who blamed the news for exposing My Lai or blamed Thompson etc, but still I also remember that people were really shocked that our side would behave that way. Is the shock the same over Abu Graib? There seems to be an absence of shock over getting into a war over WMD that turn out to not be there. The news media seems to cover these things only when forced to, when the story is impossible to ignore.
Von made a crack about liberals needing to acknowledge that there are truly evil people in the world: I have no problem acknowlwdging that. I just feel more responisble when the evil people are American.
BTW when I teach American history I usually do a reading on Thompson. He is a hero.

I'll add my "What bob mcmanus said."

Jackmormon has a post on this at HoCB and I, having been beaten to the punch, follow it up with a frivolous post on funny place names, so I'm going to button up in my foxhole and wait for Dr. Ngo to chopper in.

As usual, Democracy Now! provides interesting additional light, an interview with former Army Specialist Lawrence Colburn who helped Thompson end the massacre.

not much to add except (a) bob m's comment speaks for me and (b) the title of the post is a way nice play on words.

BTW, Charles, elsewhere in that thread you link to I find you writing this--

"Chomsky has been more recently found talking down the massacre in Srbrenica.  After all, it wasn't alleged to have been done by Americans."

You then link to some website by Oliver Kamm which provides precisely zero evidence for what you say. And one might think it would give you pause that the Guardian apologized to Chomsky for making the accusation you make--it occurs to me that if a newspaper can't find any evidence for Chomsky denying the massacre at Srebrenica, then maybe he didn't deny it. It's a funny little quirk I have, but I think the best evidence for what a person has said are the person's own words. So here are a couple of Chomsky quotes about Srebrenica, both from "The New Military Humanism". In this book in typical Chomsky style he launches a slashing attack on US foreign policy and the lies that accompany it. If there was a time when he'd deny Srebrenica this seems like the place we'd find him doing it. So on page 32 he says--

"Judah suggests that the US gave the green light to the Serb attack on Srebrenica, which led to the slaughter of 7000 people, a part of a broader pattern of population exchange. The US did 'nothing to prevent' the attack though it was aware of Serb preparations for it and then used the Srebrenica massacre 'to distract attention from the exodus of Krajina's entire population which was then taking place' " .

I have no idea if Chomsky or Tim Judah are correct. I note that Chomsky both accepts the Srebrenica massacre and does think the US might share some of the guilt, though I think he blames the US more directly for the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Krajina. So, Charles, you have a glimmer of some understanding of how Chomsky thinks--he doesn't write very much about atrocities which he doesn't think can be tied to American action. But you seem a little sloppy when it comes to details.

Here's another passage on page 74--

"We may also bear in mind another truism: the right of humanitarian interventionism, if it exists, is premised on the good faith of those intervening, and that assumption is based not on their rhetoric but on their record. Consider, for example, Iranian offers to intervene in Bosnia to prevent massacres at a time when the West would not do so. These were dismissed with ridicule (in fact, generally ignored), even though they might well have protected Muslims from slaughter at Srebrenica and elsewhere. If there was a reason beyond subordination to power it was because Iranian good faith could not be assumed--reasonably enough, as Iran is one of the two countries to have rejected a World Court judgment, along with other criminal acts."

Yeah, there goes Noam, denying the Srebrenica massacre again.

Matthew White has a pretty comprehensive comparison of various estimates of civilian and military N an S Vietnam casualties.

OK, I'm here and I've read quickly through the main thread and a handful of the more salient links. CB has done a good job of assembling the relevant sources, as far as I can see, so the interested reader could do worse than read through all of them, critically. (I'm sure I could dig out more sources from my files; I'm not sure anyone cares that much.)

I've got no strong views on the central issue. There were killings of civilians by the Communists during the 3 weeks they controlled Hue - no one disputes that. The only question is over the number, and how significant that number is in the grand scheme of things. (More than the couple of hundred the US killed at My Lai, far less than the 1-2 million killed during the war; choose your own lens to create your own perspective.)

I'm a little surprised that CB leads with "the slaughter of 5,500 civilians by the North Vietnamese," since the most detailed figures he has don't add up that high in terms of the "massacre" itself, unless one attributes all the bodies in mass graves to executions (one of his sources, if I read it aright, says only about 15% of those in the graves were executed) and if one assumes that the nearly 2000 missing were all executed as well, rather than simply "missing," as tends to happen in times of war.

But this is a minor quibble, since the larger political/moral issue would not (IMHO) be greatly affected whether the number was 5000 or several thousand less. I mention it only to show CB's use of sources and preference (surprise, surprise) for those most favorable to his political view. (But which of us is not at times susceptible to that?)

There's a fair amount of ad hominem argument in the thread and links, particularly directed toward Gareth Porter. If one were inclined to believe such argumentation to be valid, one might raise question-marks over some of the sources cited on the other side as well, such as Douglas Pike (always closely tied in with the US military), Steven Morris, and Accuracy [sic] In Media. But that way madness lies.

One fact about Porter which many people nowadays do not recollect. He "made his bones" as a scholar while still a graduate student, with a remarkable debunking of "The Myth of the Bloodbath," an article in the late 1960s (IIRC) that revealed the cynical US-RVN propaganda exaggerating the number of North Vietnamese killed during the land reform of the late 1950s. In this he was a pioneer, and generally proven to be right. (The standard US estimate was 50,000 deaths, but some political rhetoric [e.g., by Nixon, IIRC] swelled this total to "half a million." Porter showed where these fictive figures arose, and revised this total to 5,000 or less. Later [postwar] revisionism by Ed Moise, whose work I trust, upped this estimate to 10,000 or so.)

It is in this context that: (1) Porter challenged the quick, high, estimates of the "Hue massacre," based at first on US-RVN claims; and (2) many people believed him, since he was right before.

The only question that remains, which is one that others have raised above, is the particular point of revisiting the "Hue Massacre" now. If it's to make Americans feel better about My Lai, it doesn't work, at least for me. But perhaps there are those who sleep better at night knowing their country isn't as violently destructive as it might be. Schlaf woll, mein kind.

So, we weren't as bad as the NVA. When has the measure of our humanity been measured against the inhumanity of our adversaries?

Can you say rationalization?

Ah, pointless. useless "make me want to stop commenting here" snark.

You're mistaking brevity for snark, Spart. Even the passage you quoted upthread point out that 600 were clearly executed; the other half died of indeterminate cause. What started out as a light-hearted math flame turned into something else, evidently.

And if "the other guys massacred more" doesn't make me feel less ashamed for My Lai, do I have to turn in my VRWC ass-kicking boots?

And if "the other guys massacred more" doesn't make me feel less ashamed for My Lai, do I have to turn in my VRWC ass-kicking boots?

I believe that does qualify your for the Blame America First teddy bear and gift coupons, yes.

This is just the snarky liberal talking, but I did think from time to time of the phrase 'the Constitution is not a suicide pact' and wonder if they were justified in taking the steps they did to preserve their nation.

A bunch of people have speculated as to Charles' motives in writing this. Not being Charles, I obviously have no special insight into them, but I wanted to raise the possibility that it's just the fact that, having been challenged, he investigated, and having done all that research, he wrote a post.

Speaking as someone who has been there and done that, I can attest to the fact that when one has, in fact, done a bunch of research on a topic that's not particularly germane to any pressing political question, but that people might find interesting or informative nonetheless, one often does write posts about it, just because one has done the research and other people might be interested. There doesn't have to be a particular political motive behind it.

"When has the measure of our humanity been measured against the inhumanity of our adversaries?

Dunno exactly, Bob: but a good guess would be "right after the Abu Ghraib abuses were uncovered"?

Speaking of interesting topics that might merit research: no way am I doing this one:

The scientists looked for events producing two sharp signals, one as it entered Earth, the other as it emerged again. They found two such events, both in 1993. The first was on the morning of October 22. Seismometers in Turkey and Bolivia recorded a violent event in Antarctica that packed the punch of several thousand tons of TNT. The disturbance then ripped through Earth on a route that ended with it exiting through the floor of the Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka just 26 seconds later - implying a speed of 900,000 mph.

The second event took place on November 24, when sensors in Australia and Bolivia picked up an explosion starting in the Pacific south of the Pitcairn Islands and travelling through Earth to appear in Antarctica 19 seconds later.

Although I'd be really interested in seeing Livermore Labs' approach to defending against this sort of thing.

Why are conservatives obsessed with Vietnam?

...I wrote in comments that the war crimes we committed at My Lai were atrocious, but they paled before the atrocities of the North Vietnamese, citing as an example the slaughter of 5,500 civilians by the North Vietnamese at Hue during the Tet offensive.

Piece of advice -- when admitting that an atrocity committed by the US was an atrocity, avoid using a "yes, but..." comment. What is the point in making the comparison, other to diminish the My Lai atrocity?

Not being Charles, I obviously have no special insight into them, but I wanted to raise the possibility that it's just the fact that, having been challenged, he investigated, and having done all that research, he wrote a post.

Thank you, Hil, for that. My purpose was clearly stated in the first paragraph.

Why are conservatives obsessed with Vietnam?

Not being obsessed at all with Vietnam, I have no idea what you're talking about. Maybe you should ask a more specific question; one that doesn't make provably false assumptions.

I felt disillusioned by Vietnam because of the continuing reports of brutality by our allies. I did not expect us to accept this and it appeared in nation after nation.

Our leaders did not defend the support of these many regimes as the "lesser evil," but seemed to proclaim them the friends of freedom.

The massive bombing and use of artillery in SE Asia did bother me. And like many I feared the actions of Calley were more typical than they were.

I am still saddened that 70% of the American people were "not disturbed" by his actions, that many on the right declared him a hero and the administration coddled him.

It is true that many on the left did not see the N. Vietnamese and other "liberation movements" as the murderers and torturers that they were. Personally I think this is one of the reasons the "new left" dissolved and seems to be incapable of new ideas or visions. Those who cared and studied left in disgust.

What is the point in making the comparison, other to diminish the My Lai atrocity?

What diminishing, dm? My Lai stands on its own. Bringing up one does not detract from the other.

What diminishing, dm?

Call me crazy, but...

I wrote in comments that the war crimes we committed at My Lai were atrocious, but they paled before the atrocities of the North Vietnamese

...a reasonable reading of this sentence could be construed as an attempt to diminish one event.

It's the "but", coupled with the "paled" in a sentence that is comparing the two events.

slartibarfast -

Good point. My comment was cryptic.

Two things.

1. It wasn't clear to me who, exactly, Charles was arguing with. Are there folks out there claiming that the north vietnamese were wonderful people? I followed the links back to the original thread on Tacitus, and I sort of see the context for this post now.

2. My comment about conservatives obsessing about Vietnam is based on the large number of articles, blog posts, and comments to both that I come across, written by conservatives, in which the issues surrounding Vietnam -- now 30 to 40 years old, or more -- are once again rehashed for our consideration. Hence, my question.

I suspect there are two reasons for the conservatives "obsessing about Vietnam." First, it was until recent the big shaping event of the post-war generation. There is after all, a larger set of communities that focus on varieties of military conflict -- anyone who has stumbled into the Civil War section of the bookstore can attest to that. For those who like guns and bombs and history, Vietnam is a fairly fun topic to explore.

Of course, there is a political dimension, the what-if political narrative, the still not digested remnant of the 60s culture war. The period of Vietnam is also a period of great transition on a number of cultural and economic vectors. Who can blame a conservative for scratching his (or her) head and asking why? The "obsession" is a tool for coming to grips with our past.

There perhaps is a second reason for this obsession, one far more contemporary: the narrative of lost opportunity and domestic failure hovers around the present narrative in Iraq. I think less by way of direct analogy (Iraq as a latter day Vietnam), than by the sense of foreboding that the impact of this war, with its own narrative of failed opportunity, will dog the next generation.

It has taken --what?-- thirty years to come to grips with the domestic impact of Vietnam, as well as to peak behind our own preconceptions of that conflict. The conservative "obsession" reminds us that these tensions do not die easily: there are days of bitter indigestion ahead for which, sadly, there are no political or social antacids.

Re Vietnam:
What Harris said.
And, added to that, the inescapable fact that the conflict in Vietnam was that exceptional (virtually unique) occurrence in American history: a near-complete military/political defeat. Not in the WWI/WWII sense, of course; but a defeat nonetheless in that "our" fundamental military/political goal, (the survival of the Republic of [South] Vietnam as an independent entity) was an utter failure.
Americans generally don't take defeats well, and they sit even less well with adherents of most conservative ideologies (which are usually defined as "ultranationalism" when referring to other countries). The need to find "reasons" (i.e. excuses and blame) for what are seen as national disgraces underly a great number of right-wing "obsessions" in a lot of places. Vietnam just happens to be ours.

Why are conservatives obsessed with Vietnam?

To be fair, most Americans are obsessed, if that's the right word, with Vietnam -- whether or not they realize it.

Can I just ask what the point of this post was? To whom was it aimed, and what light does it shed on a previously darkened corner of the world?

Mcduff, I guess that certain people feel that Iraq isn't going well [and some feel the need to get on to chapter 2 - Iran]. So it's time to rile up the faithful, and distract people from the policies of the current administration.

The genesis of this post was the one over at Tacitus--the helicopter gunner who saved some Vietnamese from being slaughtered at My Lai had died. Then CB said over there that the massacre at Hue was much worse. Then he posted over here, trying to argue that our communist enemies were much worse than we were. You can object to this sort of post on two grounds
Bob McManus says morality is not a football game. Their worse crimes don't excuse ours. But Charles didn't say that it does and criticizing his post on that ground lets him off the hook.

The real problem (IMO) is that Charles is trivializing the sheer scale of the crimes we committed in Vietnam, by picking out two atrocities and letting them stand for the morality of the two sides. Hue by anyone's estimate was a bigger slaughter by the communists than My Lai was by the Americans, therefore the commies were worse. But it's very likely that the vast majority of the civilian casualties in Vietnam were inflicted by American firepower and as my Westmoreland quote demonstrates, the destruction inflicted on the peasantry was a matter of policy. I'm not going to say this makes the US "worse" because we probably killed far more people--both sides were in the moral sewer and it's not a question of evil policy on the their side vs. the actions of a few bad apples on ours. I suspect Charles has in mind this alleged contrast between the deliberate atrocities of the communists and the occasional atrocities of a few American bad apples, but the contrast is a false one.


Anarch is right about the impact of the Viet Nam war on a whole generation, not just one political pole of it.

From the other end of the spectrum, it was the experience that did the most to shred youthful idealism about this country's behavior in the world.

If anyone would like to hate on Charles, we have set up a site especially for that. Here is the relevant thread, where, I think, you'll find all of your argumentative needs met. If you have something to say that does not meet the (admittedly restrictive and high-class) parameters of hating on Charles, carry on.

Maybe it's just me, but I would have personally thought that we would get more as a culture out of being reminded of past atrocities committed by our own by reflecting on, well, those atrocities, and on the distance travelled since then.

The idea that one would take the opportunity to once again reflect on the bright and shinging new fact that Our Enemies Are Bad People indicates a certain lack of willingness to reflect, I think. I'm not saying that one cannot look at the historical facts of Our Enemies Being All Bad People And Sh*t, but it does strike me as inappropriate.

Although remaining imperfect, I think America has come a long way since My Lai and Vietnam. I don't think it hurts to examine the growth, its benefits and disadvantages, even for conservatives. But, apparently, as we have seen with Abu Ghraib, there is a somewhat jerkish motion of the knees which responds to any bad act by American forces with "Our Enemies Are Bad/Worse People." I find this particularly troubling specifically because one can never hope to get better if one ignores or explains away every problem.

The military did get broken in Vietnam, damaging the soldiers involved and their reputation abroad. It should be a non-partisan position to expect it to be fixed now. Is it? This is, I think, a question to be asked by both sides. Why does one side not want to ask it?

Somewhere between 300 and 500 people were massacred at My Lai. The effort to minimize the incident is not only a moral evasion, but requires overlooking that it was far from the only event of its kind. After the massacre became public, and especially at the time of Lt. Calley's trial, many Viet Nam veterans said that they'd witnessed or taken part in similar atrocities.

It was hard to face the idea that abuses by U.S. forces were widespread, but testimony at the Winter Soldier hearing provided further support.

Just a few years ago, the Toledo Blade reported that the Tiger Force unit of the 101st Airborne committed a series of war crimes, including killing and torturing civilians, throughout its six-month tour in 1967. The Army substantiated many of the allegations against the unit, and sat on the evidence for thirty years.

All this is over and above the nature of the war itself, which we waged in a way that devastated the country and killed at least a million of its people.

Atrocities by one side don't make the other side the "good guys" in such a war. Or in any war, for that matter.

Why are conservatives obsessed with Vietnam?

What a uselessly generalized statement, Russell. Vietnam has been invoked by the Left practically every time the U.S. makes a military incursion. "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam" wasn't spoken by a conservative. I would say that the obsession with Vietnam is quite bi-partisan.

What a uselessly generalized statement, Russell.

Speaking of useless generalizations, how do you feel about this one:

Around the same time as My Lai, the NV slaughtered 5,500 civilians in Hue, but we hear little about that. Doesn't mesh with the liberal narrative.

I agree that Vietnam touched the American psyche as a whole, btw. In many different ways, of course.

Hey Charles -

"What a uselessly generalized statement, Russell".

If you look upthread you'll see I've expanded my somewhat cryptic post in response to slarti's comments, which yours more or less echo.

Could be that "the left" cites Vietnam whenever the US makes a military incursion. At least when a Republican is President. The right made similiar noises around Somalia and Yugoslavia.

FWIW, my more recent sense is that commentators on the right have taken the current GWOT and, especially and specifically, our involvement in Iraq, as an occasion to revisit and, perhaps somehow, redeem the negative legacy of Vietnam. It's like some weird kind of exorcism.

Ever read, for example, Trevino on the topic?

No doubt we heard "Iraq is Bush's Vietnam" often enough back in the early days of our involvement there (Iraq). I haven't heard that too much lately. I think our involvement in Iraq is turning out to have a character, and will generate a legacy, all its own.

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Whatnot


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