Dover Bitch

Monday, April 30, 2007

Surrender Date

DB went away for the weekend to meet the newest member of the family (she is adorable). On the way to the airport, the cab driver had NPR on the radio, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talking to Robert Siegel:

MCCONNELL: Well, obviously the veto is going to be sustained. And then, we'll have to get serious about providing funding for the troops. The surrender date needs to come out. The pork needs to come out and we need to send the president a bill he can sign. And I'm optimistic that that'll be done relatively soon. I've had good preliminary conversations with Sen. Reid about the next round and I'm hoping that we can reach an agreement that's satisfactory to all the parties.


I think there is a possibility for bipartisan agreement on some kind of benchmarks. What is unacceptable is any kind of surrender date. Any kind of date that indicates to the terrorists on the other side if you can just hang on until this particular date, you get to win

SIEGEL: "Surrender date" we should say is your characterization of the withdrawal...

MCCONNELL: Yeah, a withdrawal date is the same as surrender. I mean, it's saying if you can hang on until this particular day, that's when we're going to give up.

That's the term of the week, apparently... Surrender date. The White House responded quickly to the Senate and House votes on the Iraq emergency funding bill:

PERINO: Eighty days after President Bush submitted his troop funding bill, the Senate has now joined the House in passing defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender, micro-manages our commanders and generals in combat zones from 6,000 miles away, and adds billions of dollars in unrelated spending to the fighting on the ground.


PERINO: His principle is that he is not going to put our troops into the position of having a date -- a surrender date without providing the Iraqis the chance that they need in order to get the political reconciliation that they need.

The conservative parrots at the Washington Times penned an op-ed entitled Surrender Date and everybody's favorite former Democrat, Joe Lieberman, followed with his own op-ed in the NY Post, "IRAQ: NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said "the Democrats need to stop pleading for surrender."

Add to the Democrats-surrendering list House Minority Leader John Boehner, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Sen. Jim Inhofe, (R-OK) and a number of conservative editorials. [Update: Add GOP No. 3 Rep. Adam Putnum (R-FL) to the mix.]

I began this post by mentioning that I went to the airport. As it happens, I took with me a copy of the May 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, which contains several outstanding articles, one of which is "The Kissinger Presidency" by historian Robert Dallek. I found this paragraph interesting:

Vietnam. Using language that has a painfully contemporary echo, Kissinger and Nixon very quickly came to private conclusions about Vietnam that they never revealed publicly and denied entertaining. "In Saigon the tendency is to fight the war to victory," Nixon told Kissinger, according to the transcript of a 1969 phone conversation. "But you and I know it won't happen—it is impossible." Even so, according to Haldeman's unpublished diaries, Nixon later urged that Democratic critics making this same point should be labeled "the party of surrender." When someone told Kissinger that Nixon could not be re-elected, because of Vietnam, he disputed it and added, according to a memo of a conversation, that "anytime we want to get out of Vietnam we can," and that "we will get out of Vietnam before the [1972] election." Nixon wanted to plan the removal of all U.S. troops by the end of 1971, but Kissinger cautioned that, if North Vietnam then de-stabilized Saigon during the following year, events could have an adverse effect on the president's campaign. According to Haldeman's diaries, Kissinger advocated a pullout in the fall of 1972, "so that if any bad results follow they will be too late to affect the election." He apparently had nothing to say about the American lives that would be lost by deliberately prolonging the war. Just before a peace treaty was signed, Kissinger in a phone conversation advised Nixon against stating that this was a "lasting peace or guaranteed peace because this thing is almost certain to blow up sooner or later."

Dallek also reminds us:

Nixon is dead, but Henry Kissinger remains very much a man in public life. In recent years, President George W. Bush has consulted him for advice on the Iraq war, which Kissinger has supported. Since 2001, Kissinger has, according to Bob Woodward's State of Denial, met with the president every other month, and with Vice President Dick Cheney every month, and he has advised President Bush that "victory ... is the only meaningful exit strategy" for Iraq.

I've always believed the "history repeats itself" cliche was easily disproved, but if Kissinger is going to keep writing new chapters, we're going to be treated to the same tragedy over and over.

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