Lately, there have been some undercurrents of nervousness with Democrats that Obama in his new emphasis, that he is mainstream American and not a wide-eyed radical, may be abandoning some of his liberal positions.
I shared some of those concerns in my last post, two weeks ago, 'Oh No, What is Obama Doing?' but have been reassurred (for instance by Andrew Sullivan in today's London Times) that the two main candidates are still poles apart, especially on their visions of Iraq. After all, McCain is essentially the same happy 'bomb warrior' that has stoked the environment and allowed, even encouraged America to get involved in yet another costly, controversial and unnecessary war, far from its soil.
Indeed, while McCain would like us to stay, for a hundred years in Iraq, it is not remotely true, as Charles Krauthammer, the neocon (on Iraq) Washington Post columnist believes, "Two weeks ago, I predicted that by Election Day Obama will have erased all meaningful differences with McCain on withdrawal from Iraq".
Obama, after his 're-fining' quote about his upcoming trip got him into hot water declared:
My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war -- responsibly, deliberately, but decisively. And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one to two brigades a month, and again, that pace translates into having our combat troops out in 16 months' time.
And McCain, who trumps his experience as a flight lieutenant commander and POW prisoner in Vietnam as giving him commander-in-chief experience over Obama, doesn`t seem to have any more penetrating insights into that war, than his constant confusions over Shiites and Sunnis reveal about his insight into Iraq. He still thinks the Vietnam war was "a noble cause" (after My Lai) and it was "winnable".
Joe Conasan in 'Salon' talks about how Vietnam shaped McCain.
The most pertinent issue is not what McCain did or didn't do during the war in Vietnam, but what he learned from that searing, incredibly bloody and wholly unnecessary failure of U.S. policy. Indeed, what is most striking about McCain's attitude toward Vietnam is his insistence that we could have won -- that we should have won -- with more bombs and more casualties.
In 1998, he spoke on the 30th anniversary of the Tet Offensive. "Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, I believed and still believe that the war was winnable," he said. "I do not believe that it was winnable at an acceptable cost in the short or probably even the long term using the strategy of attrition which we employed there to such tragic results. I do believe that had we taken the war to the North and made full, consistent use of air power in the North, we ultimately would have prevailed.
This from a war in which we tried to bomb North Vietnam 'back to the stone age', with a million and half Vietnamese casualties and dropped more tonnage on Vietnam than the Allies did in the entire Second World War. We are employing the same stategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan; bombing from the air, with heavy civilian casualties which in guerilla warfare as in Vietnam, is proving all too often, counter-productive.
Very few military historians agree with McCain's bitter analysis, which suggests that a ground invasion and an even more destructive bombing campaign, with an unimaginable cost in human life, would have achieved an American victory.
If the Vietnam War was premised on strategic misconceptions and cultural stupidity, it was also based on plain old lies, as the true history of the Tonkin Gulf incident has long since revealed.
But it is easy to understand why a man who thinks that we should have escalated the Vietnam War after 10 futile years would talk about occupying Iraq for a century. And it is hard to imagine why voters would elect a president who still believes that 60,000 American dead and more than 300,000 wounded in Vietnam were not quite enough.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!