Media Can’t Let Go Of Vietnam Comparisons

Check this out:

Headline: Bush’s Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967

WASHINGTON (AP) – Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq might look anything like Vietnam. Yet just as today’s anti-war protests recall memories of yesteryear, President Bush’s own words echo those of President Johnson in 1967, a pivotal year for the U.S. in Vietnam.

“America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated,” Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, “We shall stay the course.”

After 14 Marines died in a roadside bombing on Aug. 3, Bush declared: “We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We’ll help the Iraqis develop a democracy.”

The two wars were waged quite differently even though they shared similar aims.

About 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam in 1967 after a three-year buildup, compared with about 140,000 in Iraq today. Heavy aerial bombing was a primary U.S. strategy in Vietnam while Iraq, after the initial campaign of “shock and awe,” has been mainly a ground war. The U.S. negotiated for peace in Vietnam, but there is no single entity with which to negotiate in Iraq.

“The differences are so notable that it would take too long to list them,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld remarked recently.

Knowing the long, painful and divisive Vietnam War ended with an unceremonious U.S. withdrawal and the fall of South Vietnam, administration officials have blanched at comparisons with Iraq. The administration declined to comment on comparisons between the rhetoric of Johnson and Bush.

Johnson’s main arguments were much like those Bush has employed: War was justified to protect the U.S. and to encourage freedom everywhere. When faced with mounting losses on the battlefield, both presidents offered the dead as a reason to keep fighting.

*Insert Al Gore ‘sigh’ here*

Rush made a good point a couple of days ago in that that the media are stuck in the past and I want to expand on that some: the Vietnam war era was their heyday. It was where their anti-war stances were played out in articles that were supposed to be free from bias but weren’t and those articles played a significant role in the opinions of those here at home, which in turn contributed to our withdrawal, and also during that same time members of the media aided in bringing down a sitting President. I’m not saying Nixon’s coverup was ok, so please don’t get me wrong on that, but the fact of the matter is that the Vietnam era is when the media’s influence on public policy and pushing scandal coverage was huge and believe me, they relished it. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve read interviews about reporters who wanted to get into the news media in order to “make a difference” – but that’s what activists are supposed to do, not reporters (unless you’re an opinion writer or investigative reporter). Ok, I know I’m digressing a bit, but you get the picture :)

(Cross-posted at BlogsForBush)

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