Pol Pot R Us

by digby

And here I thought it was the liberals who were the blame American firsters.

Mr Bush spoke of the massacres under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge,"The defence strategy that refused to hand the South Koreans over to a totalitarian neighbour helped raise up an Asian Tiger that is a model for developing countries across the world, including the Middle East."

Mr Bush compared current calls for withdrawal from Iraq with what happened at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

"Many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people," Mr Bush said. "The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.

"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left.

"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," Mr Bush said, mentioning reprisals against US allies in Vietnam, the displacement of Vietnamese refugees and the massacres in Cambodia under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.

This is truly amazing. The president of the United States is actually blaming his own country for the Cambodian genocide. Even Normon Podhoretz and his creature Rudy Giuliani haven't had the nerve to make that argument. Old Norm was adamant that the Vietnam Syndrome had helped turn the US into a bunch of wimps, but he didn't actually blame the US for Pol Pot.

For the record, as I'm sure everyone knows, Pol Pot's rise was enabled by the US's war policies not by its withdrawal and it was the newly minted commies who ended the genocide so Bush is, as usual, talking gibberish.

And while Norm went way back to the 70's to show how our allegedly feckless policies in the middle east he didn't go this far:

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today's struggle -- al-Qaeda. In an interview with a Pakistani paper after the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden declared that 'the American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam. They must do the same today.' . . . . Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility -- but the terrorists see things differently."

Now, Bush is saying that not only are the dirty hippies of today giving comfort to the terrorists the dirty hippies of the past caused terrorism. It all ties together so nicely.

But, you know, as Bush often says, history is for dead people. (Or something like that.) These pomo neocon historians are hard at work rejiggering the narratives all the time, both current and historical. (I'm beginning to think it's a massive mind-fuck operation done with the express purpose of making us all crazy having to defend the obvious all the time. Perhaps they figure we'll just give up at some point and submit to their will out of sheer exhaustion.)

I find his latest plea really rich in light of the fact that he also seems to be saying that he wouldn't exactly stand in anybody's way if they decided to depose Diem --- er Maliki. Both Carl Levin and Bush (and now Clinton, apparently) came out with statements that Maliki is the problem and then Bush backtracks the next day? Come on. I don't know if this is some kind of crude good cop bad cop or what, but it doesn't make sense.
As Hilzoy writes:

I think that Levin is absolutely right that the Iraqi government is not working. But this does not begin to imply that the Iraqis would be well advised to oust Maliki, let alone that we should be advising them to oust him. That would follow if Maliki were the reason the Iraqi government was dysfunctional (or: a significant part of the reason.) Suppose, for instance, that most members of the Iraqi parliament were ready to compromise with one another. Deals were ready to be struck, compromises were in hand, but alas! Nouri al-Maliki stood in their way, using his power as Prime Minister to block them all. In that case, it might be a good thing if he were replaced.

On the other hand, suppose the reason the Iraqi government is not functioning is that its various members are not prepared to come to terms with one another and try to resolve the outstanding issues that divide them. Maybe they believe that a civil war is imminent, and that they should concentrate on being in the best position to win it once it starts rather than trying to prevent it; or maybe they are just incapable of putting aside their sectarian and ethnic differences and working for the good of the country. In that case, there would be no reason at all to suppose that replacing Maliki would solve anything. He might or might not be the best person for the job, but that wouldn't really matter: if no one could make the Iraqi government functional, then the particular characteristics of Nouri al-Maliki are beside the point.

Unfortunately, I don't see a single indication that Maliki himself is the problem...the Prime Minister could be replaced twenty times over and it wouldn't make the slightest difference. What it would do is cause months of delay while the new Prime Minister tried to put together his government.

The problems with the Iraqi government are immensely complex and almost certainly impossible to solve through some sort of imposition of a a new and American approved leader. I don't know what in the hell this is about, but I can't see that it's going to help anything on the ground in Iraq and the political optics are terrible.

These things never work out the way you think they will. Either somebody miscalculates or we make things worse.

But then the Democrats may be on the verge of the big el-foldo in Iraq anyway so it may all be academic. The Democrats got punk'd again --- and now they are spinning like little guinea pigs on a treadmill trying to fix it:

Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

Right. But now that we all agree that there's been prah-gress we are going to have to give the surge more time to make more prah-gress FU's for everyone!

Who could have predicted such a thing would happen?

Frankly, I don't think it will make any substantive difference anyway. Bush will never agree to a withdrawal and I think even if the congress pulled the funding he'd stubbornly keep them there. Therefore, this Iraq debate is political and mostly about 2008. Rather than recognizing that, the Democrats are behaving purely reflexively to patented GOP threats and propaganda instead of building their argument for withdrawal with strength and commitment. In the process they are running a huge danger of demoralizing their base (and the growing number of people who are willing to give them a chance) by capitulating, if not actively embracing, the policies of the most unpopular president in history. They are playing a very dangerous game. Nobody owes them a vote.

But it's a great plan for staying in the minority even when the wind is at your back and you are facing a party in steep decline, if that's what they desire.

Update: I was completely wrong about Norm's creature Rudy (and I wrote a long post about this just days ago even quoting the exact paragraph. Oy --- my memory....)

Anyway, Via Perrspectives in the comments, here's what Rudy wrote.

"America must remember one of the lessons of the Vietnam War. Then, as now, we fought a war with the wrong strategy for several years. And then, as now, we corrected course and began to show real progress. Many historians today believe that by about 1972 we and our South Vietnamese partners had succeeded in defeating the Vietcong insurgency and in setting South Vietnam on a path to political self-sufficiency. But America then withdrew its support, allowing the communist North to conquer the South...The consequences of abandoning Iraq would be worse."

Bush is learning history from Norman Podhoretz and Rudy Giuliani. Oh jesus.