For the AP, there's never a lost opportunity to turn Iraq into Vietnam. Now, Saddam's WMDs are the same thing as the Gulf of Tonkin, only worse:
WASHINGTON - A spy-agency analysis released Thursday contends a second attack on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin never happened, casting further doubt on the leading rationale for escalation of the Vietnam War.
Much as faulty U.S. intelligence preceded the invasion of Iraq, the mishandling of intercepted communications 40 years earlier is blamed in the National Security Agency paper for giving President Johnson carte blanche in the conflict.
There's more than one parallel here, and it goes to the blinders the AP is wearing when it reports on either war. The idea that America was going to go to war over the Gulf of Tonkin alone is absurd. Unless there was a much more serious threat, like the notion that Communists were going to overrun southeast Asia (which they did), a couple of bullet holes in the side of a ship weren't going to goad this country into a 10-year, 500,000-man commitment half a world away.
Lkewise, the AP assumes that the sole rationale for invading Iraq was WMDs. In fact, the administration made a much broader case for war, including known cooperation with al Qaeda (although not on September 11), known support of terrorism, plotting to subvert and eventually repeal sanctions, and that little matter of shooting at our planes.
In fact, this is part of a deliberate leftist strategy to turn Iraq into Vietnam, winning the war on the ground while undermining it at home.
"The parallels between the faulty intelligence on Tonkin Gulf and the manipulated intelligence used to justify the Iraq war make it all the more worthwhile to re-examine the events of August 1964 in light of new evidence," said researcher John Prados.
Prados is a specialist on the Gulf of Tonkin at George Washington University's National Security Archive, which is not affiliated with the National Security Agency, and which pressed for release of the documents through Freedom of Information requests and other means.
Prados has done a fair amount of historical research on Vietnam, which I'm certainly not qualified to judge. I will, however, point to this article in which he claims that the Winter Soldier Dog & Pony Show hasn't been discredited.
More importantly, Prados has been peddling the "manipulated intelligence" line for some time now, with several articles and a book out on the subject. He obviously believes that focusing attention of the Gulf of Tonkin right now is a good way to further embed the Iraq=Vietnam meme in the public mind.
At the same time, Prados isn't completely nuts. He does have some useful questions about the nature of the Iraqi resistance - he believes, plausible enough, that the insurgency is really a diverse set of guerilla groups with the common goal of defeating us.
Still, when a guy has a vested interest in pushing historical parallels to his current conspiracy theory, which just also happens to be the subject of his not-so-bestselling book, you'd expect the reporter to point those out.
Unless he's antiwar. And unless it's the AP.