Predictably, The Economist gives George Bush more credit for his thoughtfulness and courage than he deserves with respect to his ridiculous comparison early this week between Vietnam and Iraq. While casting some light on exactly which delusional fantasy the President may be reacting to, the piece completely ignores the elephant in the room - does the President actually believe that Vietnam would be better off today if the American military were still deployed there, propping up the weak and ineffectual South Vietnamese government? Can he really believe the tired rightwing talking point about how the American withdrawal from Vietnam caused the tragedy that took place in neighboring Cambodia?
GEORGE BUSH elicited predictable howls of outrage this week when he drew parallels between the catastrophes in Indochina (re-education camps, boat people and the killing fields) that followed America's withdrawal from Vietnam after 1973 and what might happen in Iraq if American troops were abruptly pulled out—something that he has promised will not happen on his watch, but which all of the Democratic presidential contenders and the congressional leadership are committed to bringing about.
John Kerry, who served with the navy in Vietnam while Mr Bush served with the Air National Guard in Texas, and who was defeated by Mr Bush in 2004, called the comparison irresponsible and ignorant. In fact, it was rather brave and rather interesting.
It was brave because supporters of the Iraq war (those who are left) generally try to resist any comparison to Vietnam. The comparison is often made by Democrats, who see Iraq as exactly the sort of quagmire for America that destroyed the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. By adopting the comparison himself, Mr Bush was implicitly shouldering the analogy, as well he might. A quagmire is something dangerous which is extremely difficult to get out of.