Robert Tracinski outlines the case:
In a speech last week, President Bush surprised everyone by citing Vietnam as an analogy to Iraq. Just as we paid a “price in American credibility” for our abandonment of Vietnam, he argued, so we will suffer an even worse blow to the credibility of American threats and American friendship if we retreat from Iraq.
The New York Times, borrowing “military parlance,” described this as Bush’s attempt at “preparing the battlefield–in this case for the series of reports and hearings scheduled on Capitol Hill next month.” The military terminology is appropriate, since this war will not be won or lost only on the battlefield in Iraq; it will be won or lost in the political battles that will be fought in Washington, DC. And Bush’s invocation of Vietnam may turn out to be a brilliant rhetorical flanking maneuver. In one stroke, he has unexpectedly turned the political battle over withdrawal from Iraq into the last battle of the Vietnam War. The effect on the right has been electrifying. One conservative newspaper, the New York Sun, has even taken the step–inconceivable a year ago–of dedicating a page of its website to parallels between Iraq and Vietnam.
This certainly has caught the left by surprise, since the history of the Vietnam War is territory they thought they owned and controlled, which is why they have attempted to fit every conflict since 1975 into the Vietnam template. An editorial cartoon published early during the invasion of Iraq aptly depicted the Washington press corps as unruly children in the backseat of the family car, pestering the driver with the question, “Is it Vietnam yet? Is it Vietnam yet?” They assumed that if Iraq was Vietnam–if it fit into their Vietnam story line about dishonest leaders starting a war of imperialist aggression that was doomed by incompetent leadership and tainted by American “war crimes”–then it was guaranteed to be a humiliating defeat for their political adversaries.
Yet while the left complacently trotted out its same old Vietnam story line, a few historians have been busy revising and correcting the conventional history of the war. The leading work of this school is Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, by Mark Moyar. What makes Moyar’s argument interesting is that he had access to facts that the conventional history of Vietnam, written in the 1970s and 1980s, could not have taken into account: the archives in Hanoi and Moscow, which reveal what our enemies regarded as our victories, our weaknesses, and our worst mistakes.
Though public opinion polls consistently show that Americans consider Iraq to be the most important issue facing the country, establishment media has slashed the resources and time devoted to Iraq. The number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion began in March 2003 to as few as nine by October 2006. The result was the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.”
Noah D. Oppenheim, who visited Baghdad for MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” noted that “The consequence of this system is that, on television, the story in Iraq is no more than the sum of basic facts, like casualties, crashes, and official pronouncements.” The data back Oppenheim. The television airtime devoted to coverage of Iraq has plunged dramatically. Television networks devoted 4,162 minutes to Iraq in 2003, 3,053 minutes in 2004, 1,534 minutes in 2005 and 1,122 minutes in 2006. The amount of time and space devoted to Iraq coverage has continued to decline through the first half of 2007.
Both these articles are well worth reading in their full. And worth bookmarking.