Yet more historians comment on Bush's Vietnam analogy





Writing in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran, accused Bush of being "oblivious to the history that actually matters." In the Houston Chronicle, Robert Buzzanco, a professor at the University of Houston, said Bush missed the point that it was U.S. intervention in Cambodia that caused the rise of the Khmer Rouge -- an interpretation still hotly debated three decades later.

Military author Max Boot, by contrast, hailed Bush's analogy in the Wall Street Journal but said he should have gone further in laying out the lessons of Vietnam and the dangers of withdrawal.

White House officials seemed pleased with the attention to the speech. Even with the negative commentary in many quarters -- predictable, in their view -- the feeling seemed to be that they needed to do something to shake up and reframe the debate over Iraq as the Sept. 15 date approaches for a new administration assessment of the war. "Now is the time to use that argument," said one White House ally who has been involved in the war policy debate.

White House counselor Edward W. Gillespie, who oversees the speechwriting department, suggested that there was little hesitation about including the discussion of Vietnam in last week's speech, especially since Bush discussed the other great conflicts in Asia. "To have talked about South Korea and Japan, and not about Vietnam, you couldn't do that," he said.

But some outside the administration saw greater significance in the White House move. "They have not used this analogy up until now," said Peter W. Rodman, a Defense Department official in the Bush administration. Rodman co-wrote a recent New York Times op-ed with the British journalist William Shawcross, cited by Bush last week, laying out what they believe to have been the grim consequences of U.S. withdrawal from Indochina. "I have always thought they were good debating points," he added.



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