Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New Heart of Darkness, it's Vietnam Again

"So you've heard all the analogies between Iraq and Vietnam. I know I thought I had -- that is until the other night, when I watched Apocalypse Now Redux, the enhanced version of Francis Ford Coppola's classic Vietnam horror film.

"In the key restored segment, Marlon Brando (Colonel Kurtz) reads to Martin Sheen from a Sept. 22, 1967, article assembled in the never-never land created by Henry Luce, who had died the previous March, high above Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

"Brando's dissociated voice relays the momentous news that "one of the most exhaustive inquiries into the status of the [Vietnam] conflict" offers "considerable evidence that the weight of U.S. power, two and a half years after the big build-up began, is beginning to make itself felt," and that "White House officials maintain [that] the impact of that strength may bring the enemy to the point where he could simply be unable to continue fighting."

"We now know that many of those stories were fabricated, in part or whole, and that the enemy casualties -- a.k.a. "the body count" -- were vastly overstated for domestic political profit. We know that the South Vietnamese army was incompetent and demoralized, riddled with Viet Cong spies, and that it rarely took the initiative in battle. And we know that the American government was fully aware of the sorry state of its Vietnamese subsidiary, even as it publicly insisted that the war could be won with just a little more help from the Pentagon....


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