Saturday, August 25, 2007

Times gets my story, two days later

Following on my posting from three days ago, the Times of London, a Rupert Murdoch outfit, explains the "revisionism" that lies behinds Bush's claims about Vietnam. It's Sorley and Moyar alright, as well as their various readers in Bush regime. Money:

In Triumph Forsaken, published last year, the historian Mark Moyar claimed that South Vietnam could have survived had the Americans not acquiesced in the overthrow of President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, plunging the country into an “extended period of instability and weakness”.

Moyar is now working on a book about the second half of the war, in which he argues: “In the offensive of 1975, the North Vietnamese are moving around huge conventional forces that would have been pulverised by our air power.” By then, however, Hanoi was well aware that America was turning against the war and doubted that the US military would be able to act decisively.

Supporters of the Iraq war have also been delving into Lewis Sorley’s book, A Better War, which was rereleased in paperback this year. The war, Sorley wrote, “was being won on the ground even as it was being lost at the peace table and the US Congress”.

Needless to say, the Murdoch outfit doesn't bother to point out that these two "revisionists" aren't really scholars, just like herbologists aren't really doctors.

The thing to understand about these sorts of "revisionists" is that they start with a contemporary political axe to grind, and then go find a historical "revision" to make that will support that contemporary political agenda. That doesn't make their claims about the past necessarily wrong, but it does mean that they are going into the research inclined to cherry-pick evidence in order to support their thesis -- a thesis motivated not by an understanding of the past en soi, but rather by contemporary political concerns.

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