The New York Times vs. History (updated)

Rick Moran
When it comes to Viet Nam,  the New York Times has a curious sense of the historical record.

Commenting on President Bush's Viet Nam analogy used in his speech to veterans yesterday, the Times made this jaw dropping observation:



In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.
And just to show that this is indeed, the company line at the Times about the aftermath of the Viet Nam war, Thomas Shanker uses the exact same phrase in a news analysis of the President's statements today:
The American withdrawal from Vietnam is widely remembered as an ignominious end to a misguided war — but one with few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.
Are they serious? Cambodia, an ally of the United States during the war, might have a little something to say about the Times' contention that there were few "negative repercussions" for them. Genocide on a scale that boggles the mind doesn't rate as a repercussion, I guess.

And what about Thailand? An ally of the US then and today, they surely didn't view our retreat from Viet Nam as anything except a setback for their security.

Then there is the now defunct Southeast Asian Treaty Organziation - SEATO - which went belly-up following our withdrawal from Viet Nam in 1977.  Is the Times trying to argue that a collective security organization disbanding as a result of our pullback is not a "negative repercussion?"

I suppose emboldening the Soviets in Africa, Central America, and elsewhere - a direct consequence of us showing a lack of will in Viet Nam - wasn't too bad. After all, who cares about the Angolans anyway? Or the Salvadorans? Or the Nicaraguans? All three nations (and more) became recipients of Soviet attentions following our Viet Nam withdrawal. Would the Russians have been so bold otherwise? Certainly a debatable question but one where an affirmative answer can be well argued.

The Times is only reflecting the fact that the left in this country has been unable to face up to the consequences of their advocacy for withdrawal and abandonment of Viet Nam. Indeed, in the Shanker piece, one historian makes a liar out of the Times reporter:

“It is undoubtedly true that America’s failure in Vietnam led to catastrophic consequences in the region, especially in Cambodia,” said David C. Hendrickson, a specialist on the history of American foreign policy at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
It makes one wonder what the Times writers will be saying about Iraq 30 years from now.

Update: John B. Dwyer adds

  
In his speech to the VFW that has the MSM 's knickers in a twist, Pres. Bush cited a 1975 New York Times article that, as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists, stated that it was "difficult to imagine how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." 

We now know that these were the words of Sydney Schanberg, writing in the April 13, 1975 NYT.  I found this nugget in a 30 April 1998 Boston Globe piece by Jeff Jacoby titled "American Leftists Pol Pot's Cheerleaders."    Mr. Jacoby reminds us that it wasn't only the NYT spouting such ideological drivel. 
American antiwar activists were still intent on effecting the ``liberation'' of Southeast Asia. Radicals like Jane Fonda, David Dellinger, and Tom Hayden stormed the country, denouncing anyone who opposed communist victory in Cambodia and Vietnam. On the campuses, in the media, and in Congress, it was taken on faith that a Khmer Rouge victory would bring peace and enlightened leadership to Cambodia.

"The growing hysteria of the administration's posture on Cambodia,'' declared Senator George McGovern, ``seems to me to reflect a determined refusal to consider what the fall of the existing government in Phnom Penh would actually mean. . . . We should be able to see that the kind of government which would succeed Lon Nol's forces would most likely be a government . . . run by some of the best-educated, most able intellectuals in Cambodia.''

Stanley Karnow, hailed nowadays as an authoritative Indochina historian, was quite sure that ``the `loss' of Cambodia would . . . be the salvation of the Cambodians.'' There was no point helping the noncommunist government survive, he wrote, ``since the rebels are unlikely to kill more innocent civilians than are being slaughtered by the rockets promiscuously hitting Phnom Penh.'' [....]

In the news columns of The New York Times, the celebrated Sydney Schanberg wrote of Cambodians that ``it is difficult to imagine how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone.'' He dismissed predictions of mass executions in the wake of a Khmer Rouge victory: ``It would be tendentious to forecast such abnormal behavior as national policy under a Communist government once the war is over.'' On April 13, 1975, Schanberg's dispatch from Phnom Penh was headlined, ``Indochina without Americans: for most, a better life.''

On the op-ed page, Anthony Lewis was calling ``the whole bloodbath debate unreal. What future could possibly be more terrible,'' he demanded, ``than the reality of what is happening to Cambodia now?''
There's more. Follow the link to Jeff Jacoby's excellent take-down.

Update: J. James Estrada notes:

Schanberg will be the first to tell you that his "misimpression" of the situation, as related in the column he wrote, was a truly accurate description of his then stated beliefs.   He later wrote about the horror of genocide that did come to Cambodia under the "murderous rule" of Pol Pot.  Schanberg wrote the 1980 book, The Death and Life of Dith Pran, which was turned into the movie a few years later.   The movie was called The Killing Fields

Schanberg should sit down with John Kerry, who denies mass killings following our retreat from Vietnam and Cambodia, and teach him a little history.  By the way, the 73 year old Schanberg was born in Clinton, Mass.

When it comes to Viet Nam,  the New York Times has a curious sense of the historical record.

Commenting on President Bush's Viet Nam analogy used in his speech to veterans yesterday, the Times made this jaw dropping observation:



In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.
And just to show that this is indeed, the company line at the Times about the aftermath of the Viet Nam war, Thomas Shanker uses the exact same phrase in a news analysis of the President's statements today:
The American withdrawal from Vietnam is widely remembered as an ignominious end to a misguided war — but one with few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies.
Are they serious? Cambodia, an ally of the United States during the war, might have a little something to say about the Times' contention that there were few "negative repercussions" for them. Genocide on a scale that boggles the mind doesn't rate as a repercussion, I guess.

And what about Thailand? An ally of the US then and today, they surely didn't view our retreat from Viet Nam as anything except a setback for their security.

Then there is the now defunct Southeast Asian Treaty Organziation - SEATO - which went belly-up following our withdrawal from Viet Nam in 1977.  Is the Times trying to argue that a collective security organization disbanding as a result of our pullback is not a "negative repercussion?"

I suppose emboldening the Soviets in Africa, Central America, and elsewhere - a direct consequence of us showing a lack of will in Viet Nam - wasn't too bad. After all, who cares about the Angolans anyway? Or the Salvadorans? Or the Nicaraguans? All three nations (and more) became recipients of Soviet attentions following our Viet Nam withdrawal. Would the Russians have been so bold otherwise? Certainly a debatable question but one where an affirmative answer can be well argued.

The Times is only reflecting the fact that the left in this country has been unable to face up to the consequences of their advocacy for withdrawal and abandonment of Viet Nam. Indeed, in the Shanker piece, one historian makes a liar out of the Times reporter:

“It is undoubtedly true that America’s failure in Vietnam led to catastrophic consequences in the region, especially in Cambodia,” said David C. Hendrickson, a specialist on the history of American foreign policy at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
It makes one wonder what the Times writers will be saying about Iraq 30 years from now.

Update: John B. Dwyer adds

  
In his speech to the VFW that has the MSM 's knickers in a twist, Pres. Bush cited a 1975 New York Times article that, as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists, stated that it was "difficult to imagine how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." 

We now know that these were the words of Sydney Schanberg, writing in the April 13, 1975 NYT.  I found this nugget in a 30 April 1998 Boston Globe piece by Jeff Jacoby titled "American Leftists Pol Pot's Cheerleaders."    Mr. Jacoby reminds us that it wasn't only the NYT spouting such ideological drivel. 
American antiwar activists were still intent on effecting the ``liberation'' of Southeast Asia. Radicals like Jane Fonda, David Dellinger, and Tom Hayden stormed the country, denouncing anyone who opposed communist victory in Cambodia and Vietnam. On the campuses, in the media, and in Congress, it was taken on faith that a Khmer Rouge victory would bring peace and enlightened leadership to Cambodia.

"The growing hysteria of the administration's posture on Cambodia,'' declared Senator George McGovern, ``seems to me to reflect a determined refusal to consider what the fall of the existing government in Phnom Penh would actually mean. . . . We should be able to see that the kind of government which would succeed Lon Nol's forces would most likely be a government . . . run by some of the best-educated, most able intellectuals in Cambodia.''

Stanley Karnow, hailed nowadays as an authoritative Indochina historian, was quite sure that ``the `loss' of Cambodia would . . . be the salvation of the Cambodians.'' There was no point helping the noncommunist government survive, he wrote, ``since the rebels are unlikely to kill more innocent civilians than are being slaughtered by the rockets promiscuously hitting Phnom Penh.'' [....]

In the news columns of The New York Times, the celebrated Sydney Schanberg wrote of Cambodians that ``it is difficult to imagine how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone.'' He dismissed predictions of mass executions in the wake of a Khmer Rouge victory: ``It would be tendentious to forecast such abnormal behavior as national policy under a Communist government once the war is over.'' On April 13, 1975, Schanberg's dispatch from Phnom Penh was headlined, ``Indochina without Americans: for most, a better life.''

On the op-ed page, Anthony Lewis was calling ``the whole bloodbath debate unreal. What future could possibly be more terrible,'' he demanded, ``than the reality of what is happening to Cambodia now?''
There's more. Follow the link to Jeff Jacoby's excellent take-down.

Update: J. James Estrada notes:

Schanberg will be the first to tell you that his "misimpression" of the situation, as related in the column he wrote, was a truly accurate description of his then stated beliefs.   He later wrote about the horror of genocide that did come to Cambodia under the "murderous rule" of Pol Pot.  Schanberg wrote the 1980 book, The Death and Life of Dith Pran, which was turned into the movie a few years later.   The movie was called The Killing Fields

Schanberg should sit down with John Kerry, who denies mass killings following our retreat from Vietnam and Cambodia, and teach him a little history.  By the way, the 73 year old Schanberg was born in Clinton, Mass.