Vietnam Analogies - November 15, 2001

Vietnam Analogies Johnny Apples Vietnam Syndrome. Speaking of negative spin in the news media, the MRCs Rich Noyes recently collected a series of New York Times articles in which R.W. "Johnny" Apple, the newspapers former Washington Bureau Chief, obsessed about how Afghanistan may become another Vietnam.

- Apple, writing in the Week-in-Review section, September 30: "We may hear about an assassination here, a terror attack there, a special forces operation that succeeds, a bombing mission that doesnt, but it will not be easy to tell what it all adds up to. The government will tell us, of course, but those with long memories will recall the notoriously unreliable government accounts of progress in Vietnam and wonder. There the body count or the number of pacified hamlets was said to hold the answer, but it didnt. What will the new measure be? Bank accounts closed? Terrorist cells smashed?"

- October 15 "news analysis" piece by Apple: "[President Bush] has found no way yet to involve the American people as a whole in the campaign - that vast majority who were not touched by the Sept. 11 attacks or the various anthrax scares, who do not serve in the military. The danger, over the long term, is loss of interest....The experience of Vietnam is instructive. Lyndon B. Johnson, sensing the minimal support for the war in Vietnam, hesitated to appeal for sacrifice. He restricted tours of duty for the military, and he promised the American people that they could have both guns and butter. In the midst of prosperity that has been unequaled in this nation, he said defiantly in 1965, I see no reason for declaring a national emergency, and I rejected that course of action."

- An October 30 "news analysis" by Apple: "Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. Today, for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to a limited number of the various opposition

Doesnt look now like much of a "stalemate."