President Bush is seeking to redeem the Vietnam War.
He has tried to turn conventional wisdom about that war (that it was a quagmire and a sideshow in strategic terms) on its head.
Having finally given up on stopping his critics from drawing parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, Bush has decided to it would be easier to re-define failure than it would be to change the course of events in Iraq. The statistics measuring "progress" in Iraq are damning for all but the delusional.
It is not just that the Iraqi war and occupation is now forecast to cost about $1 trillion. (Enough to give every working person in America a tax refund of $7,500.) 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing the country every day, and for good reason. In July alone, nearly 2,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Each day, about 60 Iraqis are being killed - up from about 30 a day last year. (And given the difference in population, 60 a day is equivalent to about 1,000 Americans being killed each day!) About a million Iraqis have been killed since the occupation. American forces dropped five times as many bombs in Iraq in the first six months of 2007 than they did in the first six months of 2006.
Folks in Baghdad get only about 1 to 2 hours a day of electricity, in a country where average daytime temperatures are 110 to 120 degrees a day. 17 of Prime Minister Maliki's 37 ministers have walked out. (The equivalent of having every other cabinet member and his department (e.g., defense and education and environmental protection agency) separate from Bush's government.) $11 billion of Iraqi reconstruction funds are missing. About 30% of the equipment given to Iraqi troops by the Pentagon (including 110,000 AK-47 rifles) is also missing. The percentage of babies born underweight since the occupation has spiked to 11% (compared to 3% before the invasion).
If, as Bush claims, all this constitutes a success, then how could Vietnam be anything but a success. How could it not be? The fact that 5.1 million Vietnamese were killed during the war (4 million civilians) would do little to suggest it was ought but success. It cost us about $120 billion (back when a billion was real money) and 58,209 American lives. None of that mattered. What matters to George is that we failed to continue pounding our head against the wall. After dropping more bombs on Vietnam than we dropped on all of Europe during World War 2, we gave up too soon. A stunning conclusion to reach without the assistance of alcohol.
Once Bush has managed to redefine Vietnam and Iraq as successes (and what, one can't help but asking, would these wars have looked like had they been failures?), he plans to redefine space, time, and subprime mortgages. For you see, Bush is also redefining leadership. To put words in his mouth (given that there is no sock handy), "Leadership is shared delusion."
Sharing the outrage over Bush's defense of Vietnam:
Jim Hoagland at the San Diego Union-Tribune