He said the American pullout from Vietnam more than 32 years ago was to blame for millions of deaths in Cambodia and Vietnam, and for putting a dent in American credibility that lasts to this day.
“Then, as now, people argued that the real problem was America’s presence, and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end,” Mr. Bush told an audience at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here today. “The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.”
Senator John Kerry made the following statement in response to the speech today by Bush:
“Invoking the tragedy of Vietnam to defend the failed policy in Iraq is as irresponsible as it is ignorant of the realities of both of those wars,” Senator Kerry said. “Half of the soldiers whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after the politicians knew our strategy would not work. The lesson is to change the strategy not just to change the rhetoric. We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do. Our brave soldiers can’t bring democracy to Iraq if Iraq’s leaders are unable or unwilling themselves to make the compromises that democracy requires. No American soldier should be sacrificed because Iraqi politicians refuse to resolve their sectarian and political differences.
“It is unfortunate that President Bush would want to invoke a false comparison of Vietnam to Iraq, but not surprising that he would oversimplify the differences and overlook the tragic similarities. As in Vietnam, we engaged militarily in Iraq based on official deception. As in Vietnam, more American soldiers are being sent to fight and die in a civil war we can’t stop and an insurgency we can’t bomb into submission. If the President wants to heed the lessons of Vietnam, he should change course and change course now.”
In the Hill: Democrats blast Bush’s Vietnam comparison.
Cross posted from The Democratic Daily.