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November 18, 2006

Vietnam — The Ride


As a news medium, web and blog space generally dictates you stick to the essentials.  In contrast, YahooNews has a feature — called the Hot Zone, showcasing the still and video images of “conflict journalist” Kevin Sites — which functions more on a network news/cable news model.  In other words, the mission is as much about volume and background color as it is about the actual nut.

Given the all-too-real history and status of Bush 43’s Iraq ride, “Junior in Vietnam” sounds less like a news event than a fabulous (and confabulated) idea for a Daily Show sketch.

Faced with the complicated task of washing off those neocon delusions, the last thing these times dictate is more fancy.  And yet, in a fantasy merger of  top headlines and entertainment news, the Hot Zone feature in question, in quick order, manages to blur the distinction between South East Asia and the Middle East; the ’60’s and the ’00’s; and Bush’s acid trip in Iraq as background to Bush’s finger wagging trip to Vietnam.

I draw your attention to the feature in the Hot Zone Vietnam extravaganza entitled “The Violent Underground,” illuminating the fantastic tunnels of the Viet Cong. (Link.)  Obviously, snapshot crazy history hounds can’t get enough of them.  It’s the way they are framed in the Hot Zone, however — in the midst of Bush’s bizarre GWOT campaign trip — that is particularly war trivializing and Disney-fied.

In a particularly cynical way of promoting soft news, the story lede reads as follows:

The tunnels of Cu Chi played a critical role in North Vietnam’s war effort, and were possibly an inspiration for Hezbollah’s bunker system.

Possibly an inspiration?  …On the last page of the on-line tour (led by a man presenting himself as the Vietnamese tourist industry’s version of Hollywood kung-fu star, Jackie Chan), the tunnels are specifically likened to that other cool set of underground passages.  Opposite this photo, the copy reads:

The Viet Cong’s tunnels proved effective.  Intelligence analysts familiar with the military tactics of Hezbollah say the guerilla group studied the VC tunnel network in creating their own bunker system in south Lebanon.

But then, maybe I’m making too much out of this comparison.  Rather than wasting time on obscure analogies (like comparing Rumsfeld with some old dude named McNamara), the Hot Zone, in fact, might have stumbled on a brilliant way of putting the last six years behind us.

Instead of holding hearings, why not just turn our bloody foreign interventions into tourist attractions?

(images: Kevin Sites/The Hot Zone.  August 27, 2006.  Cu Chi, Vietnam.

  • Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez

    Yeah, it’s gross. Sort of how I feel about these Fox anchormen getting all duded up and cheerily telling the camera “Now I’m going to be waterboarded!” We escape truly thinking and feeling about these things by applying a bright, shiny coat of polyurethane and some glitter.

  • Rafael

    “Hey, lookit! I’m a tunnel rat! Wait is that a cobra?”
    To quote one of my favorite video game characters of all times:
    “Dumb Florida morons!”

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Mr. Bush goes to Vietnam and says to them/us, We would have won, had we not quit :
    “We’ll succeed, unless we quit,” the president said. “History has a long march to it, and societies change and relationships can constantly be altered to the good.”
    Vietnam really strikes a raw nerve for many of us, like me, of a certain age ~ who actually experienced that simultaneously giddy & gory era. i hated LBJ; i despised him and distrusted his (our parents’) generation with ever fibre of my being. it was not until Mr. Bush became president-select and plunged America into a hellish vision of endless war within two years of taking office ~ that i again felt that visceral disgust, déjà vu all over again.
    perhaps most of all, i hate hating Mr. Bush. i hate unfolding The New York Times in the morning, when i’m here in San Francisco, or The International Herald Tribune, when i am with Madame in Paris ~ and having to see his image and/or read his weird, warped words.
    Go away! please, just… go away :-/

  • donna

    Yeah, Gonzo, it’s tough having to hate part of our own generation now isn’t it? We thought we were smarter than this. Hell, most of us are smarter than this. But fighting with the selfish,stupid, I’ve got mine go screw yourself half of our generation is a real bitch.
    Thank goodness the kids are all right, and came out to vote in droves this year.

  • putnam

    Bush’s statement is utterly senseless. He might as well have said, “Vietnam today is proof that we could have colonized the Moon in the Seventies, if we hadn’t quit.”
    He’s really scary, because he’s talking not just about the impossible, but about killing people, lots of them.

  • putnam

    And he’s telling his Vietnamese hosts, “We should not have quit. We should have killed many, many more of you, perhaps killed you yourself or one of your parents, or both your parents and all their neighbors and your cousins too, just killed lots of Vietnamese. Then your country would be a better place today.”
    I’m unaware of any visiting dignitary ever crowing about how his country should have kept fighting the host country in a previous war, instead of making peace as they did.
    This is truly a boggling statement he made.

  • GeorgeF

    @ MonsieurGonzo: “We’ll succeed, unless we quit,” the president said. “History has a long march to it, …” Well, the same might have said Napoleon in the case of Spain, the British in 1842 in the case of Afghanistan, the French in Algeria, the Russians in Afghanistan. There are a many other examples like that in history and in all these cases, suchwords were nothing but a lie, the unillingless to understnd history and the unwillingbess ti understand a failure. It is nothin really new. It is only disguising the idiocracy of political leaders. The long march of history will add the Iraq-adventure of GWB as just another case of the same.
    What came to my mind, when I saw the picture of the Viet-Cong tunnel: The Poles are making a fortune of the tourists, visiting the remnants of Hitler’s last Headquarter in East Prussia, the “Wolfsschanze”. Relations between Germans and Poles are pretty well by now – forget those crazy twins at the head of Poland – and they treat such remnants as nothing more than a business. Nothing to be upset about!

  • weisseharre


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