October 30, 2003


It's No Vietnam (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 10/30/03, NY Times)

Since 9/11, we've seen so much depraved violence we don't notice anymore
when we hit a new low. Monday's attacks in Baghdad were a new low. Just stop for one second and contemplate what happened: A suicide bomber, driving an ambulance loaded with explosives, crashed into the Red Cross office and blew himself up on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This suicide bomber was not restrained by either the sanctity of the Muslim holy day or the sanctity of the Red Cross. All civilizational norms were tossed aside. This is very unnerving. Because the message from these terrorists is: "There are no limits. We have created our own moral universe, where anything we do against Americans or Iraqis who cooperate with them is O.K."

What to do? The first thing is to understand who these people are. There is this notion being peddled by Europeans, the Arab press and the antiwar left that "Iraq" is just Arabic for Vietnam, and we should expect these kinds of attacks from Iraqis wanting to "liberate" their country from "U.S. occupation." These attackers are the Iraqi Vietcong.

Hogwash. The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge -- a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis.

Note the suggestion here--typical of so much of the repulsive generation of the 60s, which seems incapable of acknowledging its tragic error--that the Vietcong were basically a bunch of freedom fighters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2003 6:07 PM

Yes, but. Despite that intellectual blind spot, he still draws the correct conclusion.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 30, 2003 6:31 PM

Tom, is trying, I say trying to make up for his
reporting for the Times in the 1980s, where he
along with Robin Wright of the LA Times, provided
the intellectual argument for abandoning Lebanon;
at times, seeming to apologists for Hezbollah (They hit us, because we involved ourselves against the Druze, some obscure incident in a
Beirut hamlet, turned the Shiite street against us.) The Khmer analogy doesn't apply because there
is no analogue to the Cambodian government, and
Baathism and Sunnu Salafism, is at cross purposes.
The comparisons lie better with the Phillipine Campaign, that claimed approx. 5,000 American troops,(which would be closer to 50-100,000) but
Izzat Ibrahim is not Aguinaldo. Maybe the earlier
British campaign in Mesopotamia, is more appropriate, although the same problems with the
comparative variables apply

Posted by: narciso at October 30, 2003 8:27 PM

I am a tail-end boomer and have been trying to stake em for years.

Posted by: Sandy P. at October 30, 2003 8:58 PM

Sandy --

Agreed. The so-called "boomer generation" takes up such a large time period -- from 1946 to 1964 -- that it's more than likely there are a number of 39-year-olds out there who are end boomers, whose parents were born in 1946 or 47 and are also supposedly part of the boomer generation. That, of course, defies the definition of generation in the first place.

It's really the early boomers, the children born from '46 to about 1954 or so, who have been the ones setting all of the "trends" that have been praised by the media and rightly derided by most normal-thinking people over the past 35 years. The boomers born from 1955 through 1964 have just been ballast along for the ride who get lumped in with the earlier group.

As for Friedman's column, I really hope he e-mailed a copy over to Maureen Dowd today, since his piece was almost a total rebuke of the Vietnam-centric claptrap that her op-ed column in Thursday's Times contained. The location of the two articles so close together was in a way better than David Brooks' takedown of Paul Krugman, when both their columns ran on the same op-ed page a couple of weeks ago, since to most of the Times "elite" readers, they expect that kind of column from Brooks, but Tom Friedman is supposed to be on their side.

Posted by: John at October 30, 2003 10:08 PM

The idea that the "boomer" generation spans two decades is absurd. Those born in 1964 have little to nothing in common with those born in 1946. A better indication is what did those children's parents do during WWII? Baby Boomers are those people whose parents were in the age range 18-24 during that war. They are the first children born to that group in 1946 and the fourth or sixth born in 1961. But they don't include the firstborn in 1957 to couples who were in grade school during the war. (or sixth born in1947 to fathers who fought in The Great War.)

It's the parents of the Baby Boomers as described above who are at greatest fault, the so-called "Greatest Generation" which turned out to be lousy parents, who supported the entrenchment of the New Deal in the 1950s, who elected Kennedy and were enthusiastic supporters of the Great Society in the 1960s. (Think of the string of lousy presidents Kennedy through Bush the Elder. All, except Reagan and maybe Jimmy a part of that cohort.) They are the ones today demanding increases in Medicare and Social Security and "senior discounts" for everything. (And to give them some credit, they were supportive of the Civil RIghts Movements, too.)

Their last act is now to die off leaving their spoilt brat children an inheritance which will allow them to retire early and continue to foist their childish behavior on everyone else for another couple of decades.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 31, 2003 12:23 AM

I consider Boomers as an intellectual construct to be those who were eligible for military service in Vietnam.

Posted by: OJ at October 31, 2003 7:30 AM

The Vietcong - the acceptable face of
totalitarian leftism!, don't ever confuse them
with those yahoos the Khmer Rouge.

I weep for that lost generation. Of course
growing up I admired the Afghan Mujahadeen (not
Bin Laden's boys) and the Contras.

Posted by: J.H. at October 31, 2003 9:28 AM

Having just saved the world as it was known, the
Boomer's parents believed that government
largesse was a rightful reward (perhaps so), but
the belief became so ingrained in the
succeeding generation that the old moral
America that was simultaneously hardscrabble
and affluent was destroyed for a watered down
simulacrum of American life filled with
misplaced tolerance, obsession with safety and
security and the most massive outburst of
ingratitude the world has ever seen since France.

Oh to be back in 1920!

Posted by: J.H. at October 31, 2003 10:07 AM

As a '62 baby, who didn't realize she was a boomer until JFK Jr. died and was referred to as such, I'm still in shock and denial.

The Baby Boomers are like a blob. They spent the 80's and 90's trying to regain their youth and so expanded to make sure that their generation included the rest of us.

I was horrified and ashamed to find out I was a "boomer." A failed generation of arrogant nitwits with a thirst for power and an addiction to abusing it. Bill Clinton is the poster boy.

Posted by: NKR at October 31, 2003 10:27 AM


Born in '61--the best moment of my childhood (politically) was when the NYC hard hats assaulted the peace protestors.

Posted by: OJ at October 31, 2003 11:12 AM