I don't want to say I told you so. I'd rather be wrong. But things in Iraq are unfolding as I saw at the beginning of this war, with our troops engaged in combat in cities where snipers and guerrillas can fire on them from windows or hurl bombs that blow up their tanks.
It didn't take clairvoyance to figure this out, just looking at history. It's deja vu.
It is, as Sen. Ted Kennedy said, "Bush's Vietnam."
Just as in Vietnam, we sent babies in to fight a war. Most of the enlisted men were green kids just out of high school, just as they are now. I heard an ABC-TV commentator (I think it was on the Easter Sunday morning news) talk about the youth, "the babies," of our forces in Iraq and how many of them still have stuffed animals somewhere, and how he keeps hoping he won't see any names he recognizes on the casualty lists, for he was in Iraq with these babies earlier in the conflict.
More and more of them are being killed.
The ones who aren't being killed are becoming desensitized and callous. It's how to survive. While the corporate men sit in board rooms and calculate earnings. While a president tries to figure out how he can come out ahead in the polls. It's an election year. Just like Vietnam.
To pull out now would risk being called "loser." Bad for vote-getting. The answer? Send in more troops, young and ill-trained for what they'll face, just like Vietnam, and the body bags of our soldiers and the civilian casualties will pile up. Just like Vietnam.
The level of fear and antagonism toward anyone who might be the enemy ratches up. Our soldiers can't tell who is friend or foe, so all of "them" become the foe. Just like Vietnam.
So, atrocities happen, just like Vietnam. Consider My Lai: PBS, The American Experience, Viet Nam in the Trenches: My Lai Massacre.
These lyrics have been rattling around in my head for weeks:
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a general's rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
"Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all
It was you and me.
("Sympathy for the Devil" - lyrics by the Rolling Stones)
You've got to give the devil his due. He does good work, and he's there. Just like the other places he's been. Like Vietnam.
If I had any babies in danger of being drafted, I'd send them to Canada, instead. Just like families did in the days of Vietnam.
(Note: for more "deja vu" go to Pilgrim's Progress or Father Jake Stops the World.)
Another American hostage, surrounded by masked gunmen, on the television.
More testimony that President Bush was planning an invasion of Iraq since his election, recounted in Bob Woodward's book Bush's Plan of Attack: The Road to War. Colin Powell advised against it, telling Bush he would end up buying the country, as in, "You break it, you buy it." Rumsfeld's thinking prevailed.