Yesterday I got an e-mail from my good friend and former colleague Anthony Pignataro, who's now the editor of the Maui Time Weekly (lucky bastard). Anyways, when Pignataro's not busy teasing me about my recent depiction in the Vietnamese-language media as an ugly, big-nosed communist mastermind, he likes to show off his vast knowledge of history and literature. Most recently, he clued me in on what has to be just about the stupidest part of the stupidest speech President George W. Bush has ever made.
After refusing to comment for years about the obvious parallels between his ill-concieved and poorly executed invasion of Iraq and the Vietnam War, Bush finally addressed the issue in a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City last Wednesday. Seems Bush finally heard of a certain book about Vietnam—Graham Greene's The Quiet American—that was written 52 years ago, and if Presidents Kennedy or Johnson had read it, they would have steered clear of Southeast Asia. And if Bush had read it, well . . . you get the idea.
Here's what Bush said about The Quiet American:
In 1955, long before the United States had entered the war, Graham Greene wrote a novel called The Quiet American. It was set in Saigon, and the main character was a young government agent named Alden Pyle. He was a symbol of American purpose and patriotism and dangerous naivete. Another character describes Alden this way: "I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused."
So far, so good . . . Bush definitely has been hitting his Cliff's Notes.
But then he continues:
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After America entered the Vietnam War, Graham Greene—the Graham Greene argument gathered some steam. Matter of fact, many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people. In 1972, one anti-war senator put it this way: "What earthly difference does it make to nomadic tribes or uneducated subsistence farmers in Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos whether they have a military dictator, a royal prince or a socialist commissar in some distant capital that they've never seen and may never heard of?"
So in a nutshell, Bush is using a work of literature that specifically warned against America getting arrogantly involved in an unwinnable war to justify not withdrawing from an unwinnable conflict Bush personally started because he's such an arrogant prick.
That's it. No punch line.
Bush is a moron, folks, and the joke—if there is one, which there probably isn't since invading Iraq has killed thousands of Americans and tens of thousands, if not more, Iraqis and the entire fucking planet hates us now—is on you and me.