Christopher Hitchens, deep into self-parody, writes a piece for Slate called “Why Haditha isn’t My Lai.” He’s absolutely right, of course. This is 2006, not 1968, which obviously makes the two incidents significantly different. And let’s not forget that Vietnam is part of Indochina, whereas Iraq is in the Middle East.
Hitchens, sharp analyst that he is, also notes that the alleged atrocities in Haditha just took a few minutes, whereas William Calley and company spent all day slaughtering civilians in Vietnam. Also, the Viet Cong were much, much nicer than those nasty Iraqi and Islamist insurgents.
You will not be surprised to learn that Mark Steyn is traveling down the same road as Hitchens. Peter Daou captures Steyn and Hitchens perfectly: “Steyn is a self-styled ‘conservative’ worshipped by many on the right for his Hitchens-esque turns of phrase (no, not a compliment) …” But read the whole thing — Daou’s got some classic lines in there.
The charges regarding Haditha have not been proved. But if they’re true, or substantially true, then the analogy to My Lai will be perfect — tragically so.