Vietnam legacy is where you find it

George Bush reminded us, in a speech Tuesday, of the history of US withdrawal from Vietnam. Neo-neocon has an excellent analysis of the arguments for and against Bush’s view of this here: Whose Vietnam analogy is it, anyway?

Maybe the guilty memory of betrayal and failure, and the bloodbath that ensued in Vietnam and Cambodia, is actually a late and parsimonious dividend of the Democrats’ undermining of South Vietnam. Maybe it will be much harder to do the same thing to the Iraqis because of that disgraceful decision. I hope so.

The Vietnam War may well have ended differently if a series of Commanders-in-Chief could have resisted micro-managing it. Lyndon Johnson even picked bombing targets.

I am sure it would have ended better if we had had the will to win, and, later, the common courtesy not to consign an ally to the knives. The South Vietnamese shouldn’t have been surprised at this treachery, though, since JFK had earlier approved the coup resulting in the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. Another legacy that maybe Carl Levin should read up on.

Maybe some of the people who voted to abandon South Vietnam feel secretly guilty. Not that this private angst can change Ted Kennedy’s mind, but others might look at him and wonder when he’s actually bragging about it on the Senate floor. This from Jan-2007:

During the Vietnam War, as successive presidents escalated the hostilities in defiance of mounting opposition, Congress finally responded. We repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the original authorization for using military force in Vietnam. We cut off appropriations to prevent the escalation of that war into Cambodia and Laos. And then we took the decisive step of capping the number of American troops in South Vietnam. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 mandated that the number of American civilian and armed forces could not exceed 4,000 within six months and 3,000 within one year of the bill’s enactment.

The debate is intense because it is about who writes what history. Why the history matters is well illustrated by BELOIT COLLEGE’S MINDSET LIST® FOR THE CLASS OF 2011. Starting with “What Berlin wall?”