Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Dubya: Should've Stayed Longer in Vietnam
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   08/23/2007)

Dear Mr. Bush,


We needed another Vietnam, and you gave us one. Only this time we'll stay longer and finish the job, you suggested in your speech Wednesday.

Good for you. You've finally admitted what some of us have been saying since 2003. Iraq is like Vietnam.

Of course your memory of Vietnam's a lot different from most of ours. You could say it's new and improved. Like most works of creative nonfiction--or is it outright fiction--your story of Vietnam reads a lot better in the rewrite, because rewriting allows you to leave out some of the distasteful or redundant parts. Like, for instance, the untidy little story of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed in August 1964 in direct response to a minor naval skirmish. It would've hardly been news-worthy except that it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a declaration of war by Congress, to use military force in Southeast Asia. Then there's the matter of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. It's easy to forget that Cambodia was a beautiful country--some considered it a paradise--until we began bombing hell out of it, which brought about a coup, against its beloved Prince Sihanouk, by Lon Nol, the dictator we supported. Our bombing and strong military support of Lon Nol helped bring about a revolution of the peasants and middle class, and so the country turned to Pol Pot, a genocidal Stalinist who thought he'd bring on a an age of peace and brotherhood by emptying the cities and killing most of the intellectuals. Of course, you simplify that part, by suggesting it was our leaving that unleashed Pol Pot, rather than our meddling.

So, again, congratulations. You've managed to obscure history for a whole new generation. Tell me though, which came first? The idea that we needed another Vietnam? Or the quagmire in Iraq? Either way it fits the bill.

First, like Vietnam, Iraq's a long ways from home.

Second, the war has lined the pockets of all your friends in the military and arms and aerospace industries, plus many in the media, just as Vietnam did for your daddy's cronies in Texas and elsewhere.

Third, Vietnam was based on a series of big lies we were told at the time, like these, endlessly repeated in the "liberal media."

1. Vietnam was in league with Russia and China. Those communists were all in it together.

2. They provoked us to the breaking point by firing on our ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

3. Unless defeated, the Viet Cong would swallow southeast Asia.

4. The South Vietnamese were democracy-loving allies.

Compare that to the big lies and innuendos of Iraq.

1. Saddam was in league with al-Qaeda. They were all in it together.

2. They attacked us on 9/11, and so we had to fight back by invading Iraq.

3. Saddam had WMDs, and so he threatened the entire Middle East, and even our own Eastern seaboard, what with aerial drones, anthrax, nukes he was building and so forth.

4. Democracy would break out all over after we won.

Of course the wars are similar in other ways as well.

1. We stayed in Vietnam a long long time (though not long enough, you imply).

2. The Vietnam War spread to Cambodia.

3. It threatened to become WWIII.

4. Our leaders said publicly we were winning, long after they acknowledged in private we were losing.

5. It cost billions that might've been spent on any number of things--like new sources of energy.

6. Mostly lower middle class and poor people died in Vietnam, very few sons of senators.

7. The war spawned genocide.

8. In the end we had to leave.

9. Even though we lost, Vietnam is a friendly trading partner.

Amazing! That's just like Iraq.

1. We've stayed a long time. It's been years now since you flew onto that ship at San Diego, dressed like a pilot, and strutted under that banner, "Mission Accomplished."

2. Your war threatens Iran and Pakistan. You could make the case it spread to Lebanon and Israel last year.

3. It could become WWIII, should you unleash Cheney and the Neocons again.

4. You say we're winning the war on terror in public, yet virtually all our intelligence agencies say we're losing.

5. It's cost billions we might've spent on healthcare, keeping social security solvent and developing new sources of energy.

6. Only a few rich people or politicians, like Joe Biden, have children serving there.

7. Your war has spawned genocide, or at least ethnic cleansing. The Shiites you put in charge of Iraq are using this opportunity to kill Sunnis in record numbers, and the Sunnis are responding in kind.

8. In the end we'll have to leave, because, as many in and out of your administration have warned, this is a war we cannot win militarily.

9. Who doubts we'll all be burning Iraqi oil again one fine day?

So Congratulations, Mr. President, you knew we needed another Vietnam, and presto!

You gave us one.