John McCain has made it clear that if he is President, Iraq will continue to echo the worst aspects of the Vietnam War. The beliefs that it is winnable and that it can go on indefinitely are frightening reminders of the hawk politics of 40 years ago. 1968 was the year that LBJ retired a shattered man because of the war, the My Lai massacre took place and Richard Nixon was elected US President promising to end the war.
The current “success” of the surge smacks of Nixon’s promises to get peace with honour. Peace was even declared in 1973 with the hollow Paris Accords, just two years before the rout of the South Vietnamese. Nixon announced “an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.”
It was an empty charade to get US troops home without acknowledging defeat. With macabre irony the chief negotiators Henry Kissinger and Le Doc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
John McCain has promised us:
I intend to win the war, and trust in the proven judgment of our commanders there and the courage and selflessness of the Americans they have the honor to command.Presumably the Vietnam conflict, where 50,000 Americans died, was not one of those "similar challenges".
Faced with similar challenges, previous generations of Americans have passed such tests with honor. It is now our turn to demonstrate that our power, ennobled by our principles, is the greatest force for good on earth today.
Strategy for Victory in Iraq
McCain's brief response to Admiral William Fallon's early retirement last week as commander-in-chief of Central Command did not address any of the issues which brought about his decision. Fallon had "served with honor". Strange for someone who criticises George Bush for changing the military leadership in Iraq too frequently.
We are going to hear a lot more that sounds like "peace with honor" before this year is over. Expect the usual spin from the usual suspects.