How long in Iraq will be long enough?

Justin Kramer’s criticism of Barack Obama’s plans to bring American soldiers back from Iraq (letter published on April 15) recycled a lot of Republican talking points. The oddest one for me is that "we cut and ran" from Vietnam, thereby causing ourselves a "devastating defeat" of a kind that we must now avoid at all costs.

It seems to me the lesson of Vietnam is exactly the opposite. 50,000 Americans lost their lives in a civil war that they had no business being involved in. The side we backed eventually lost. But Vietnam is now a stable country, a trading partner and no threat to us. Isn’t that what we want in Iraq? Would Mr. Kramer prefer us to be still fighting and dying in the jungles of southeast Asia? Does he want us to stay in Iraq until 50,000 Americans have died there?

Bush, McCain, and Norm Coleman are using arguments similar to Mr. Kramer’s in support of continuing the tragic waste of American lives in Iraq. But by refusing to ask the country as a whole to make painful sacrifices for the war— by refusing to reinstitute the draft and by a borrow-and-spend policy that shifts most of the costs to our children and grandchildren — the Republican politicians show that for them the talking points are just empty slogans.

John Rice


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