The greatest crime of all
Date: Tuesday, August 05 @ 15:42:44 UTC
Topic: King Bush

By Rich Procter,

The crimes are many. The LIES of the Bush Administration that got us into Iraq. The senseless MURDER of hundreds of our troops, committed to fight for these lies. The SHAME that Bush has heaped on America by spurning the United Stations and the countries of "Old Europe" so that American soldiers could die and American taxpayers could finance this adventure all by ourselves.

But that's not the greatest crime. For that, we need a little history.

Okay, class, take out your textbooks, and turn to the section marked "VIETNAM, CATASTROPHIC FAILURE OF AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN."

Excellent. I'd like to see if you recognize any similarities between our current situation in Iraq and the demoralizing debacle in Southeast Asia over 30 years ago.

* MORPHING RATIONALE AND MONSTROUS MISSION CREEP - Originally, we went to Vietnam to assist the "freedom-loving Vietnamese people" in resisting the "spread of the worldwide Communist conspiracy." We soon discovered the Vietnamese people perceived us not as "liberators" but as invaders in their own civil war. From a few thousand "advisers," we soon had over HALF A MILLION MEN in Vietnam in 1968 - and we still couldn't win their "hearts and minds," no matter much napalm and how many cluster bombs we dropped on them.

Iraq? The rationale has shifted from, "SADDAM HAS WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, AND HE'S GETTING READY TO USE THEM ON US!" to "He's aiding Al-Qaeda terrorists" to "we're liberating the grateful citizens of Iraq." And the mission creep is beginning - from "40,000 troops for two months" to "hundreds of thousands of troops indefinitely."

* CONSISTENT UNPLEASANT "SURPRISES" - From 1964 on, the American public was constantly told we were about to "turn the corner," that there was "light at the end of the tunnel" and that with a few hundred thousand more men, victory was assured. Then we'd discover that - OOPS - we HADN'T QUITE YET turned the corner, that it was going to cost A FEW HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS MORE than we expected, and that WE WERE BEING LIED TO (most notably, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Johnson a blank check to make war.)

Iraq? The surprises are coming hot and heavy. WHO KNEW Saddam didn't have WMD? WHO KNEW those documents asserting Saddam's intent to buy nuclear fuel were forged? WHO KNEW our bombing would destroy their infrastructure? WHO KNEW they'd loot? WHO KNEW their people wouldn't pelt us with rose petals, but instead shoot us in the head with assault weapons? WHO KNEW they'd see us as OCCUPIERS rather than liberators? Who could possibly foresee these things? Except, perhaps, the people we charge to figure them out?

* OPTIMISM IN WASHINGTON, NIHILSM ON THE BATTLEFIELD - In "The Best and The Brightest," David Halberstam pointed out that "the farther you got from the battlefield, the more optimistic you were about victory." Our soldiers knew they'd been lied to, and that they were involved in a quagmire.

Iraq? Our Perky Prez, warm n' cozy in the friendly confines of the White House, tells our enemies to "bring it on"...and ten soldiers are wounded the next day. Bush, Condi, Colin, Wolfie and Rummy tell us everything is going swimmingly...while our hot, miserable, homesick soldiers beg for a chance to get out of this chaotic hellhole. Rummy keeps telling us not to worry...and everyday another couple of soldiers die a horrible, lonely death thousands of miles from their loved ones.

* NO CREDIBLE EXIT STRATEGY - Once we committed our own soldiers to fight in Vietnam, we couldn't pull out until the South Vietnamese government could defend itself and stand on its own. The only problem was (NASTY SURPRISE INCOMING) the people of South Vietnam rightly considered the government a corrupt puppet of the Americans that would NEVER be able to stand on its own. Hence the nightmare that led to our defeat. It took us NINE YEARS to admit what experts knew in 1965 - we were duped. The South Vietnamese government was a bad joke. The domino theory was a toxic think-tank fantasy. We were screwed.

Iraq? We haven't even got the lights back and the water flowing. Our To-Do List includes Re-Building Entire Infrastructure, Creating A Credible Government That Isn't Run By Angry Religious Fanatics And Allows Us Pilfer Their Oil, and Building Massive Military Bases For A Long-Term Military Presence Without Being Perceived As Occupiers. Whew! Anybody see us getting out there in the next, oh, say, 20 years? Is this what Mr. Bush sold the American people?

Okay, so this is starting to look like Vietnam Redux. So what's the greatest crime? Simply this - BUSH, CHENEY, RUMMY, ROVE AND COLIN ALL LIVED THROUGH THE VIETNAM ERA. They saw the utter folly of lying America into a war, and then lying to cover their lies. They witnessed first-hand how Vietnam tore America apart. They have (presumably) been to the Vietnam War Memorial, that great black tombstone to all those brave men who believed the lies and died for nothing.

Of course, Bush - and Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz and John Ashcroft, and Tom DeLay and Karl Rove, and on and on and on and on - took a pass on the actual fighting. They dodged military service. They avoided learning these lessons first-hand. They've been living in that bizarre "Never-Never Land" wingnut echo chamber, where we "could have won" in Vietnam "if only our fighting men had been unleashed."

But Colin Powell did serve. He saw first-hand how soldiers died because of the giddy think-tank fantasies of ambitious politicians. He saw how these same politicians let more and more soldiers die so the politicians could save face and postpone admitting defeat. Powell saw Vietnam destroy the Army. He vowed he'd never let happen again.

Only now it's happening again. Guerrilla a distant land...conjured from a think-tank fantasy by chickenhawk exit strategy...and public support back home plummeting. Of all these men, Powell should have known better. He should have demanded this nonsense stop, or he should have walked.

But he didn't. And now soldiers are dying. Morale is plummeting. And his silence is the greatest crime of all.

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