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Suddenly, Iraq Isn't Like Vietnam

Not when Bush makes the comparison to defend the war.

Wednesday's front-page "News Analysis" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg delved into President Bush's dissatisfaction with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and his failure to bring Sunnis and Shiites together politically - and strangely finds Bush "already facing skepticism" about the troop surge in Iraq (um, didn't that surge start some months ago?)


"It was not quite the vote of no confidence delivered by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who on Monday said Mr. Maliki should quit. But it was a striking attempt by the White House to distance itself from the Maliki government before September, when the president's troop buildup faces an intense review on Capitol Hill.


"That timing is no coincidence. Mr. Bush is already facing skepticism within his own party over the troop buildup, and will almost certainly confront repeated attempts by Democrats to force an end to the war. So he seems to be laying the groundwork for a new message, one that says, 'We're doing our job in Iraq; don't blame us if the Iraqis aren't doing theirs.'"


Given that the troop built-up has been ongoing for several months (with results promising enough to garner praise from anti-war Democratic senators Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton), isn't "already facing skepticism" a pretty stale and slanted point to be making now?


Here's the Times' reaction to the text of a speech Bush is to deliver Wednesday:


"In the text, Mr. Bush also links withdrawal from Vietnam to the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, and asserts that the American pullout caused pain and suffering for millions, saying, 'Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields.'"


So, after outlining for years the parallels between Iraq and Vietnam in order to criticize the war, the Times suddenly finds it ridiculous when Bush makes a similar comparison in defense of it.


"Those assertions are already being criticized by Democrats, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and at least one historian, Robert Dallek, a biographer of presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Both said Mr. Bush was ignoring fundamental differences between the conflicts. Citing Cambodia in particular, Mr. Dallek said in an interview that the mayhem under the Khmer Rouge 'was a consequence of our having gone into Cambodia and destabilized that country.'"


Professor Dallek (the one taking the Noam Chomsky angle on how the Khmer Rouge holocaust was America's fault) has long been the Times' go-to guy for criticism of Bush as well as past Republican presidents.