|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|Through the Looking Glass
Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|Mr. Bush’s speech to the VFW* yesterday demonstrated the command of history and literature his mentor Karl Rove recently cited as evidence of the president’s literacy and intellect. President Bush analyzed the conflicts of Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. He invoked various authors, including such surprising picks as I.F. Stone and Graham Greene. He called himself a “war time president” and the commander-in-chief -- twice. The president, who avoided the mud of Mekong in the Texas based ‘Champagne’ unit of the national guard during the Vietnam war, repeatedly praised the veterans for their service to the nation. His essential point: critics of our earlier wars were wrong, the wars themselves were quite correct, and Iraq is but the latest in a succession of glorious American military successes.
In the president’s analysis, both the conduct of conflicts and those who write about them can be divided into two categories: right, and wrong. The Korean war, in which over 50,000 U.S. troops died to achieve a perfect stalemate with the Chinese and the North Koreans, was right. That war continues to cost us billions a year in the military maintenance of the South Koreans and in the cost of patrolling the border with the North. But it is true that South Korea has after many decades of dictatorship and poverty emerged as a prosperous and moderately democratic nation. Our presence in the region failed to prevent millions, and possibly tens of millions, of Chinese from perishing during the Mao Tse Tung regime.
Vietnam by contrast was wrong. After over 50,000 U.S. troops died to achieve stalemate with the North Vietnamese and China, we withdrew from the area. In the subsequent absence of a South Vietnam to maintain and no border to patrol, we saved billions of dollars a year. It is true that after many decades of poverty and dictatorship, Vietnam has begun to emerge as an increasingly prosperous and somewhat less authoritarian nation. Our absence from the region failed to prevent millions of Cambodians from perishing during the Pol Pot regime.
The lesson Mr. Bush draws from this analysis, at least as far as it applies to Iraq, is perfectly clear. If we wrongly withdraw our troops from the region, a la Vietnam, we’ll save billions of dollars a year, there will be many more local casualties, and after many decades of poverty and dictatorship Iraq may emerge as a relatively prosperous and somewhat less authoritarian state. If we rightly maintain a potent military force in Iraq, a la Korea, we’ll spend billions a year, locals and U.S. troops will continue to suffer heavy casualties, and after many decades of poverty and dictatorship Iraq may emerge as a relatively prosperous and somewhat less authoritarian state. Faced with this stark choice, can any of us reasonably question the president’s policy?
More questionable perhaps is the presidential literary criticism. Mr. Bush maintains that Graham Greene was wrong on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, as was I.F. Stone about the U.S. in Korea. Both the late novelist and the late journalist would have argued the point vigorously and eloquently, as might many of the over 100,000 U.S. dead from both conflicts. Since none of them is in a position to do so, Mr. Bush’s point is relevant only in a Pickwickian sense.
The President’s analogy with the war in the Pacific was on the other hand completely spot on. Just like the Japanese, the Iraqis attacked us brutally and without warning, dealing a frightful blow to our fighting capacity and national security. Just like the Japanese, the Iraqis threatened to invade first Hawaii, and then California, before launching a full-scale conquest of the United States. Just as with the Japanese, we had absolutely no choice but to flatten Iraq to a pancake, pacify the utterly subdued nation with a massive force of occupation, rebuild it from the ground up, spread constitutional democracy, capitalism, and baseball throughout the land, and thereby create a splendid new U.S. ally out of a former existential foe. Because that’s exactly what they did, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Isn’t that so, Karl?
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A NOTE TO READERS
There was nothing new at The Nossiter Net between March 3rd and April 26th, nearly eight weeks. The reason: tech sabotage. Yahoo Geocities, the host for this site, denied access for the entire period. At one point, they even managed to lose all the files. In many discussions with Yahoo staff, no clear explanation was forthcoming. No one seemed able to fix the problem. Ruling out the possibility of Dubbya’s revenge, I finally wrote to Mr. Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Inc and described the ordeal the page had undergone since the beginning of March. A week later, a helpful Yahooo engineer named Jason called. He had my letter before him. Though he couldn’t do the repairs on on the spot, he promised a fix by the next day. That was April 26th, nearly two months after shutting me down in the first place.
The Nossiter Net apologizes, which is more than I can say for Yahoo Geocities.
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2007
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