Friday, March 30, 2007

The Wrong Lesson From Vietnam

My Representative, John Kline, has been an unquestioning supporter of the war in Iraq. He does not support the Democratic-sponsored timetable for a troop withdrawal. On Tuesday, he wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explaining his position:

Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, drafted the letter and sought out the others for their signatures. In it, he contends that congressional interference hurt troop morale during the Vietnam War, and any effort now to set timetables for withdrawing from Iraq will have the same effect.

"Our service as soldiers, airmen, and Marines in Vietnam made us witnesses to the demoralizing effects of interference by those in Washington," the letter says. "We are compelled by these memories to ensure that today's service members receive the support they need without political constraints."

John Kline learned the wrong lesson in Vietnam. The right lesson is that while the American public can be duped for a time in the name of patriotism, eventually they wake up and will not support unnecessary wars. In Vietnam, it worked for a time to scare people with the domino theory of Communist takeover of the world, but eventually the politicians couldn't hide why we were really there and what was going on. And when the public caught on and support for the war evaporated, the troops had no business being there any more. That's the way it works in a democracy.

Same lesson in Iraq. We were duped for awhile but the game is over. The last election sent a clear message that the public has had enough of this war. It's time to bring the troops home.

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