Monday, December 24, 2007

Historical analogies

Browsing through the links at Real Clear Politics last night, I found this riveting essay at Commentary. Entitled "Who Owns the Vietnam War?," it's a must-read for anyone who's perplexed about the discontinuity between the MSM reporting of world events, on the one hand, and, well, reality on the other. And for those of us who lived through the Vietnam War era but were partaking heavily of the Kool-Aid at the time, it's disconcerting. No one likes to be played for a fool, much less with such devastating consequences.

In this essay, Arthur Herman discusses (and debunks) the various myths that the liberal left and their media accomplices have successfully transmuted into "facts," both in claiming the victory and ownership of their view of the Vietnam War and in superimposing that view on every international conflict the U.S. has been involved in ever since. In the process, he provides disturbing insight into the process of the brainwashing of the American public and the politicians who supposedly "lead" us, how it's worked in the past and is most likely working still today.

Historical analogies are never entirely accurate. They may not even be useful. But it remains true that our present and future actions are always based, to some extent, on our evaluation of past experience. Generals are often accused of fighting the last war. This is something that, when it comes to Vietnam, liberals and leftists have been doing for more than three decades, by refusing to confront (in words Peter Marin once flung in the face of American authorities) “their own culpability” and “their own capacity for error and excess.” Whatever the differences or similarities between Vietnam and Iraq, or between Vietnam and our global war with Islamic radicalism, the real analogy between then and now may lie in this tenacious refusal of self-examination by the liberal Left—especially when the facts utterly contravene its reflexive indictment of the motives, purposes, and actions of the American government.

I remember, when I first starting learning some of the things that Herman writes about here, feeling completely stunned. Everything I thought I knew was wrong. It was a long and sometimes painful recovery, but it taught me to actually "question authority," regardless of the source, rather than just play at it. This essay brings together so much that I've never seen quite so clearly laid out in one place before. Highly recommended.