Sunday, July 24, 2005

Exhuming Westmoreland

Writing for Common Dreams, Norman Solomon, on General William Westmoreland, who passed away last week:

In April 1967, a month when several hundred thousand Americans participated in antiwar protests, General Westmoreland spoke to an Associated Press luncheon and asserted that -- despite "repeated military defeats" -- the Vietnamese Communist enemy was able to continue the anti-U.S. struggle "encouraged by what he believes to be popular opposition to our efforts in Vietnam." At the time, independent journalist I. F. Stone aptly called it "the oldest alibi of frustrated generals -- they could have won the war if it hadn't been for those unpatriotic civilians back home."

From the Boston Globe, Derrick Jackson, quoting Westmoreland, and then comparing his comments to the reality in Vietnam, and his legacy now in Iraq:
"The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient." ...

Assumptions of cheap life in the East led to bombing without a conscience by the West, admitting no mistakes along the way. President Johnson boasted in 1967 that everything was moving along nicely as we were outkilling the North Vietnamese forces 10-1. ...

"We're dealing with an enemy that has no conscience," Bush said on the campaign trail last year. ...

That was ironic, since we have bombed and killed thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Iraqi civilians to ''save" them. The right wing loves to hound liberals and the left, claiming that they ignored Saddam's prior carnage to his people. But two years after the invasion, the hawks have still not answered why two massacres -- however careful our soldiers tried to be -- make a right.


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