Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The analogy was apt, but I do not think it was the one he meant to draw

[Updated below]

Something - okay, most things - about Bush's speech today at the VFW convention bothered me. But most disquieting was the passage where he seized on The Quiet American by Graham Greene.

In 1955, long before the United States had entered the war, Graham Greene wrote a novel called "The Quiet American." It was set in Saigon and the main character was a young government agent named Alden Pyle. He was a symbol of American purpose and patriotism and dangerous naivete. Another character describes Alden this way: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."

After America entered the Vietnam War, Graham Greene -- the Graham Greene argument gathered some steam. Matter of fact, many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people. In 1972, one anti-war senator put it this way: "What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they've never seen and may never heard of?"

Talk about missing the point! The book was not about the way we left Vietnam - it was written as a warning after the first U.S. military advisers had been sent to that nation. The book is about stumbling into a brutal war because hubris and a belief in exceptionalism overrides common sense.

I am not surprised that Bush has not read the book (which is obvious, or that analogy would never have been made) but I expect that his speechwriters have a modicum of understanding and at least a couple of classes in Modern American Literature.

If they had, they would have never opened him up to the comparison I am about to make - that even if he was well-intentioned (in aWol's case, I doubt that very much). Bush's efforts, like those of the fictional Alden Pyle, are doomed to failure.

Update: David Shuster on MSNBC this evening totally eviscerated the resident's pathetic rhetoric. H/T Crooks & Liars...with video! (And fwiw, I agree with John Amato - time to give David his own show!)

No comments: