- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2006

Oliver North’s commentary entitled “Vietnam and Iraq: Myth vs. reality” (Sunday, Oct. 29) addresses what has been “written these days about how the war in Iraq resembles the war in Vietnam.” His comments concerning the success of the Tet Offensive, the distortion by the media of the success of our troops in Vietnam, and President Lyndon Johnson’s decision in March 1968 not to seek or accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president brings to mind memories of the campaign for president that year.

Mr. Johnson’s announcement was shocking, its starkness was accentuated by watching it on a black and white television screen. The nation was stunned but the president’s decision was only the beginning. Between then and Election Day seven months later, Sen. Robert Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King were assassinated, mobs sacked and burned down blocks of the nation’s capital, and college campuses were in turmoil. Antiwar rioting outside of the convention center in Chicago disrupted the Democratic National Convention. Flags and draft cards were burned. Through it all, the media continued to promote its antiwar agenda, relying upon the most terrible battlefield images and stoking the flames of discontent with graphic images of body bags and flag-draped coffins containing the remains of our fallen heroes. The pandering by the media was disgraceful. It was also effective. The country caved.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey replaced Mr. Johnson as the standard bearer for the Democratic Party and faced off against his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon. During that time, I was part of Citizens for Nixon, a committee in Stamford, Conn. responsible for coordinating the campaign in that city and getting out the vote. Part of the effort involved pounding the pavements, and driving around the streets of Stamford in a sound truck, proclaiming that Nixon had a plan for bringing the troops home with honor. The details were not disclosed. They were unimportant. Believing was, and I did.

The rest is history. If Nixon truly had a silver bullet in his arsenal when elected president, it was a blank. Our troops courageously fought on. But lacking the full support of a country constantly driven by liberal ideologues in the news media and Congress, the mobs in the streets, and violent student unrest on college campuses, the outcome was predictable. The troops came home to an ungrateful country, and South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese aggressors.

We are on the brink of another election in a time of war. The Republican Party says it has a plan to bring the troops home with honor. During the last few weeks, we have heard the president enunciate it time and time again. His broad strategy is that the Iraqi people should be brought up to speed so that they are capable of defending their newly-found freedom and overcoming the terrorists in their homeland. The tactics used to achieve this objective are those of our very capable military leaders who have President Bush’s full support. When the job is done, the troops will come home with honor. With the exception of military specifics, the electorate knows the entire plan if they have been listening.

The Democratic Party contends that it, too, has a plan to bring the troops home with honor. The details have not been disclosed. It appears that once again they are not important. Once again, we are asked to believe. This time, I do not. There are too many unanswered questions. What will the Democrats do to assure that Iraq does not fall as a result of our withdrawal? Our country has not been attacked since we have engaged the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. What will the Democrats do to assure our continued safety? For example, what do they intend to do to prevent the terrorists from coming out of their caves and claiming a safe haven in Iraq from which they can strike with impunity anywhere and anytime? This is a likely consequence of premature withdrawal. What is the Democrat’s plan to assure our allies that when the next crisis occurs they can count on us when the chips are down? How do they plan to honor our servicemen and women when they bring them home before the job is done? How do they intend to explain the retreat to warriors who are fighting for a cause they believe in and are winning, and who have witnessed loss of life and limb of their comrades in arms, as well as the Iraqi men, women and children whose freedom they have been fighting for?

My guess is that if these questions were put to the Democrats today, they would tell us they have a plan. That the details are not important. Just believe.


Alexandria, Va.

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