Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dolchstoßlegende: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Dolchstoßlegende (as I've noted before) is a tried and true propaganda technique that has worked since the Nazis utilized it to devastating effect back in the day, and has been used by right-wingers elsewhere since - including during the aftermath of the Vietnam debacle, and at present as the US government's Mess o' Potamia has all the appeal of sharing a crowded airplane with Ebola patients. Recently Junior Caligula has been invoking Vietnam, and as Alan Bock has pointed out, he's using his summer vacation in the capacity of Chief Propagandist:
I suspect that what's really going on with President Bush's invocation of the Vietnam war, which most hawks have resisted until recently, is not necessarily a late endorsement of that quagmire of a war or even an argument that the United States should have stayed longer (although it could be read that way). I suspect that, instead, at some subterranean level in what passes for his consciousness, he knows that the Iraq war will end badly, and he is positioning himself and his dwindling band of supporters to place the blame not on those who foolishly started the war and then mismanaged it so badly, but on Congress and other opponents of the war.

To do this he is invoking what to most historians and those who lived through that sad episode in American history is an eccentric interpretation of how and why the war ended in the way that it did, but one that still holds some resonance among some conservatives whose memories are a little fuzzy (perhaps purposely?) and other hardliners. The short version was summed up by Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" character in (if memory serves) the second of the Rambo movies. Stallone's Rambo asks Richard Crenna's Col. Trautman something like "Are we going to be allowed to win this time?"

[snip - lots of important background info; make sure to read]

The point of all this admittedly abbreviated history is to emphasize that it wasn't Congress pulling the rug from under the military by cutting funding that led to the end of the Vietnam war but a variety of factors, including the unsuitability of U.S. forces for guerrilla war, a widespread realization that South Vietnam's government couldn't match the North in determination and persistence, and larger geopolitical factors, including the desire of the Nixon administration to pursue détente with the Soviet Union and create an opening to China.

What Bush and various neocons are up to in their invocation of Vietnam is starting to plow the soil for laying the blame for defeat in Iraq. If they get their way, it won't be laid at the feet of those who started the war and had to improvise the occupation because they had no plan and were profoundly and even proudly ignorant of the history and political and ethnic dynamics of the country they thought they were liberating – we were the indispensable nation that could transcend history and shape reality to our desires, after all. Instead it will be laid at the feet of those in Congress who rather belatedly began to have second thoughts as reality became increasingly unpleasant, and especially at the feet of those who were wise enough to advise against starting the war in the first place.
It's times like this when right-wing hardliners need scapegoats, and I can guarantee that we will continue to see these goons target those who've voiced dissent regarding the War on Terra (whether belatedly in the case of most "respectable" liberals and moderates, or from the git-go like a number of us have done consistently), as well as whomever else might be at a disadvantaged position to fight back (in Germany that meant targeting Jews, Gypsies, and those of Slavic heritage; this time it'll be those of Arab or Central Asian descent as well as anyone who looks even remotely Hispanic).

See also on this blog:

The Dolchstoßlegende and the GOP

Stupid quote of the week (so far)

A footnote to discussion on "The Dolchstoßlegende"

The Dolchstoßlegende Rides Again

This Weekend's Dolchstoßlegende

Weekend reading on the Dolchstoßlegende

Today's Example of the Dolchstoßlegende

More Fun With the Dolchstoßlegende: National Review Cruise Edition

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