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SoCoKHntr's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

The following is by Noel Koch who served under Nixon:

"On the first Saturday of each new month during the summer a group of Vietnam Veterans gather at the Vietnam Memorial in the early morning hours to wash The Wall. It is an act of homage, honoring our Brothers and Sisters. We are joined by a local service group, Civil Air Patrol Cadets, recruited to continue the work after we are gone. Each person has his or her motives for coming together in that hallowed place. For me, it is an act of contrition.

From 1971 through 1974 I served in the White House as a Special Assistant to the President. Part of my role involved the crafting of speeches arguing the case for staying the course in Vietnam. These speeches represented, in the aggregate, a monument to specious reasoning and a misapprehension of the imperatives of great power. President Nixon did not coin the phrase "I am not going to be the first president to lose a war." That self-regarding sentiment came from President Lyndon Johnson.

Still, President Nixon adopted it, and the popular wisdom of foreign policy "thinkers" reaching back to the 50s dressed it in the more presentable language of global realpolitik. If the communists took Indochina, Thailand would fall, then Burma and on across the Asian sub-continent. Jingoists, confused over which way the dominoes might fall, and never reluctant to send other people's sons and daughters to war, warned that if the communists weren't stopped in Southeast Asia we would be fighting them in the streets of San Francisco.

Establishment gray beards joined the chattering classes to insist that if the US withdrew from Vietnam, the US would lose its credibility, would cease to be a great power, its word never again to be trusted by its allies and others who looked to us for leadership in the struggle against global tyranny. It was all, as Neil Sheehan, writing about John Paul Vann, called it: "a bright shining lie." And the worst lie of all, in repeated appeals to the grieving hearts of our fellow citizens, was that we could only redeem the lives of our fallen by "winning" the war. Braced by that lie, we sacrificed more.

At length, President Nixon, the grand master of realpolitik, began the necessary process of extracting America from Vietnam. The fears we promoted in the speeches I and others wrote and promoted proved baseless. Inevitably, the angers set loose by our misadventure in Vietnam persisted for years.

In the end, it was John McCain, brutalized as a prisoner of war, who completed his Vietnam service by leading the fight to lance the boil of bitterness that disfigured the face of America in the aftermath of the war. It was John McCain, much honored for his wartime heroism, who brought further honor upon himself by standing for reconciliation with an old foe. Implicit in McCain's healing leadership was the understanding that our withdrawal from Vietnam, where our nation lost a war but our warriors never lost a battle, did not disgrace the memory of the more than 58,000 who died there.

If disgrace is to be assigned, it rests not with those who served, but with those who misused their service. The fighters of Vietnam, after all, defending their homeland, were only the instrument of our losses. It was America's misguided leadership that was the agent of those losses.

So, it is a sorrow now to hear John McCain, in pursuit of the White House, accusing Senator Barack Obama of dishonoring the sacrifices of American soldiers by calling for the withdrawal of US forces from a conflict promoted, as was Vietnam, by deceiving the American people. It is inexplicable, as the war in Iraq itself is inexplicable, that Senator McCain should charge that Barack Obama "is willing to lose a war in order to win the presidency." Buried near the surface of that discreditable allegation is the insistence that America must put still more of its best at risk in order to redeem those it has already lost.

The Senator insists we must win in Iraq. Yet, after a war that has lasted longer than World War II, and after the loss of more than 4,000 American lives, a definition of "winning" has still to be offered by the authors of this fiasco and their supporters. Senator Obama's fitness to be Commander-in-Chief is reaffirmed by his determination to end this folly, despite attacks on his motives and his patriotism. It was that determination that has served to persuade Iraq that it must now put its own house in order. And that is as close to "winning" as we are going to get in this war.

It is often said, and correctly, that Iraq is a very different war from Vietnam, but this much they have in common: American lives were wasted in Vietnam and they are being wasted in Iraq. However much American blood is shed in that sour soil, it will not be sweetened sufficiently to nurture up the seeds of democracy.

Noel Koch is a member of the steering committee of Vets For Obama."

Your opinions on this piece gentlemen.

expatriate's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

OMG, that is HILARIOUS!! I've never seen someone work so hard to spin such a ridiculous argument. Laugh

Go to icasualties.org and check the stats. Iraq is getting better, not worse. Obama continues to chant his mantra about folly and how bad things are, but the facts don't bear it out. He's too heavily invested in defeat to acknowledge success in any form.

Obama insulted our troops at the begining of the surge when he was caterwauling about it not working and we need to surrender (oops, I mean unilaterally withdrawal) as soon as possible. There's nothing a soldier hates more than spilling blood and losing friends, only to have some politician chicken out and give the battlefield to the enemy. THAT would be folly. And I'm not just talking about our own troops -- I'm including Iraqi deaths in that as well. Giving up and walking away makes their deaths pointless, too.

This isn't Vietnam. Our troops are all volunteers, and most of them signed up after the war began. They don't want to come home -- they want to win. They're three points ahead at the two minute warning, first and ten at the enemy's two yard line -- and their coach wants to pull them off the field because they look tired and have gone through a lot of gatorade?

And frankly, it's laughably desperate to say that a guy that has never been close to the military, has never held an executive position, and whose foreign policy experience has been limited to four years of his freshman senate term is a better judge of how to wage war than a man who spent an entire career in the military, led units in combat, studied war as professional eduction, and has served in congress for 26 years.

Now I know what happened to Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi Information Minister (the Americans are nowhere near Baghdad) -- he got hired by the Obama campaign. You're right -- Obama's claim to be qualified in this area is indeed a bright, shining lie -- and it gets funnier every time I hear it.

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Location: Pueblo Colorado
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

You honestly think a great majority of troops if given the personal choice of coming home to loved ones, parents, wives, husbands, children, for good (not having to go back to Iraq) and living their lives would say no? That they'd prefer riding around in a Humvee waiting to hit an IED or get leveled by a sniper?

While I agree there would be many who might like your fourth quarter football pep talk and want to stay, I'd venture to say many more, the great majority, would rather come home.

I guess we will agree to disagree on that one.

expatriate's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

You're darned right they'd say no. They're saying goodbye to their families now. If they wanted to live with their families full time, they could by leaving the service. But you'd be hard pressed to find military members who would prefer to sit at home with their families if the cost was disgrace and failure for the nation.

Libs just don't get it that our military members signed up to serve their country and defend it victoriously. Sure, they'd prefer to be home with their families -- but at what price?

Ask yourself this -- if they all just want to come home, then why are so many of them reenlisting and serving multiple tours? Have you ever had to look your kids in the eye and explain to them why you're going to such a dangerous place for months? Imagine doing it more than once. It's not just the members; family members believe in the sacrifice, too. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who believe in putting others ahead of themselves, and are willing to sacrifice for a higher calling.

And besides -- upon what are you basing your belief regarding military members' thoughts in this area? How many of them have you talked to? Have you been to the AOR with these people? Have you talked to people going back and asked how they felt about it? Have you been there when they came home and talked to them about their experiences?

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

I have talked to quite a few vets mainly young guys in their early twenties and most of them that I talked to were looking forward to getting out and weren't happy about going back to Iraq some for the third time. I've seen this reported as well where a lot of troops aren't happy about two and three tours over there. I will have to research the reenlistment claim you made. It is my understanding recruiters are having a hard time meeting quotas and as a result enlistment standards have been lowered and bonuses to enlist and reenlist are high due to a need to try and keep people in.

When I enlisted I did for many reasons one of which was to defend my Country. If my country was being threatened today or faced an invasion I would gladly risk my life and fight in it's defense. There are many who believe, even some soldiers over there, that being in Iraq, although admirable for bravery and sacrifice by our troops, isn't defending our country.

expatriate's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

Remember I said that people would prefer to be home. When I was deployed, I definitely wanted to be with my family instead of where I was. But you have to ask the full question -- if being with your family meant giving up the fight, would you do it? My answer would be absolutely not.

As for going back two or three times, I submit that the American people are at fault for that. Congress decides manning levels, not the military. If we had the military we had in the 80s, the deployment rate wouldn't be as high. It's what it is because Congress cut force structure through the 90s and hasn't increased it significantly since the war began.

As far as reenlistment rates go, I'll admit they probably aren't as high as the military would like. But they are reenlisting, and our military continues to maintain its numbers. Tthose targets are based on needs to sustain the NCO and SNCO corps. If they fall, then incentives get added to bring them back up. Again, I lay accountability on Congress. You need to right size the force and provide the right incentives to retain people.

As far as defending the country goes, I restate my point that we haven't had an attack in nearly 7 years. You fight them over there so you don't have to fight them over here. We can't afford to wait until they're at (or inside) our border to start fighting, because at that point we'll be taking American civilian casualties, too.

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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

"You fight them over there so you don't have to fight them over here"

Who exactly are you talking about? Who is this them? Certainly you don't mean Iraqis do you? None of them on those airplaines. Heck they used to be our buds back when we helped set up Sadam in power. Remember, "our little dictator" Billions with a B for agricultural loans back when congress wouldn't allow military assistance due to humanitarian concerns. Back in the early 80s a billion was a lot.

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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

I believe that ex was refering to the terrorists the guys who are setting up the ieds so on and so forth. If you believe that by us leaving Iraq that they will leave Iraq and not attack on american soil you would be sadly mistaken.

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Another "Bright Shining Lie"
civetcat wrote:
"You fight them over there so you don't have to fight them over here"

Who exactly are you talking about? Who is this them? Certainly you don't mean Iraqis do you? None of them on those airplaines. Heck they used to be our buds back when we helped set up Sadam in power. Remember, "our little dictator" Billions with a B for agricultural loans back when congress wouldn't allow military assistance due to humanitarian concerns. Back in the early 80s a billion was a lot.

You don't really believe that we are fighting Iraqis' in Iraq?
Mabe in the beginning but now........
I got that he was talking about Al Qaeda

expatriate's picture
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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

Yes, I was talking about AQ. The point is that if you engage the enemy far from our borders, they don't make it to our borders because that makes the logistics of such an attack far tougher. Based on our open society and posse comitadus, it's not like we can do much once they're "inside the wire."

It's a basic tenet of military strategy -- an enemy engaged far away from your centers of gravity is much less able to attack them.

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Another "Bright Shining Lie"

There were no Al Qaeda in Iraq until after we invaded. They were based mostly in Afganistan. Sadam hated them, and they hated him. Accused him of being a puppet of the US, which he was for quite a while.

Confusing Al Qaeda with Sadam Husien was one of the lies that has killed thousands of Americans and Iraqis, the others being WMD, yellow cake, and so on.

Invading Iraq to harm Al Qaeda makes about as much sense as invading New Zealand who also had no Al Qaeda. Even today Al Qaeda is having a very hard time operating in Iraq. During the first years of confusion and diruption they made inroads, in the end they and Iraqis hate each other. Al Queda are mostly Arabs of a different religion, and also nut cases.

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