BACK TO THE FUTURE
November 16, 2006 - Back in 1970 my younger brother got the opportunity to tour Vietnam. He did not get to Hanoi but he saw most of the southern part of the country and even took a side trip to Cambodia. George Bush missed his chance so long ago but he is making up for lost time now. Today he is in Hanoi. I trust he will be taking in the sights visiting such sites as the anti-aircraft battery that Jane Fonda made famous and the accommodations that John McCain enjoyed at the Hanoi Hilton. After the strain of last week’s election debacle the President needed this little getaway.
After he tours Hanoi the President will spend some time in Ho Chi Minh City. My brother saw it when it was Saigon. There is plenty to see there as well. There is the old Presidential Palace where President Diem was removed from office. There are the watering holes that used to host GIs, Spooks, and Correspondents. And, of course, there is the American Embassy from which the last helicopter took off while loyal Vietnamese watched. Maybe he will have time to visit China Beach, the last stop for many GIs on their tours in Vietnam. Each one of those historical sites has its own lesson to teach; lessons that have renewed relevance for today.
While the President was traveling to Vietnam his people back in Washington were touting a coming big push for victory in Iraq. His military commander was on Capitol Hill telling Senators that withdrawing from Iraq would be a disaster. The President and his people keep repeating that withdrawal of American troops and even talking about a schedule for American disengagement emboldens the terrorists and will lead to Iraq’s neighbors falling to the terrorists like oil rich dominos.
The administration line has been that America stands down when the Iraqi Army stands up. Meanwhile America will provide security for the Government in Baghdad while it trains Iraqi forces. When the Iraqi army is trained and equipped the US will disengage and come home. That appears to be the light at the end of the Iraqi pipeline. We have seen that light before.
I hope the President enjoys his trip to the country he assiduously avoided so many years ago. I hope he learns something while he is there. My brother and a half a million other Americans learned those lessons the hard way. I hope he has the sense to look back and then apply what he learns to make the future different than that which the past seems to promise.
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