Thursday, February 22, 2007

Channeling Nixon

"And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.
We shall not stop there. We need a policy to prevent more Vietnams."

Richard Nixon, accepting the Republican presidential nomination,
August 7, 1968.

During Nixons last days in the White House in 1974, the disgraced, soon to be ex president was said to wander the hallways, talking to the portraits of dead presidents.
I think that Dick Cheney is having an animated conversation with Nixons portrait
these days.
Cheney began his dark journey through American politics in the Nixon White House in the early 70's and much of his public life seems to be focused on an attempt to avenge his misunderstood ex-boss. At the height of Watergate, he stated that it wasn't a scandal, but a power struggle. Working under Gerald Ford, he began to resent the post Watergate restrictions on the presidency and began to shape his bizarre theory of an all powerful unitary executive.
His singularly warped view is what is shaping our nations government 33 years later.
He seems to be looking to Nixon for inspiration on the handling of Iraq.
Listen to the Nixonian tone of his comments earlier this week on his Asian Trip:
"And I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat.
We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right and we want to returnwith honor."
Basicly the same song as Nixon was singing in 1968, but new to the Bush/Cheney Administration. Here's why the word honor is so important. We all know what war looks like and we all know what peace is, but honor is truly in the eye of the beholder.
To Nixon, "peace with honor" did not exactly mean peace. It meant war. A lot of war.
In 1969, without authorization from congress, Nixon started his secret air campaign against enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia and dropped 2,750,000 tons of bombs, more than the allies used in WW2. He later under took a massive bombing campaign of Hanoi and Haiphong without any success. At home, "peace with honor" brought the protest which triggered the slaughter of Kent State students by the Ohio National Guard. Finally in January, 1973, Nixon decalred "peace with honor".
When Nixon hgave the speech in 1973, it had been 1,467 days since the Gulf of Tonkin alleged incident which triggered American escalation of the war. When he declared "peace with honor", it was another 1,633 days later until the fighting stopped.
More than half the fighting occurred after his declaration.
Another 20,604 soldiers died after the "promise", the total for the war being 58,202.
In the end, Saigon still fell and "peace" didn't look all that different than "peace with honor".
34 years later, another administration is saying troops can come home from Iraq, but only if the do so with "honor". Isn't a situation like Iraq one of those Vietnams that Nixon pledged to prevent?
This "honor" will also prove to be an elusive goal that won't be acheived in the next 23 months this administration has left in office.
"Peace with Honor" is neither peaceful or honorable when it means further senseless bloodshed and pain. Don't expect anymore sense to come from Mr. Cheney who is too busy dancing away from the Libbey trial and only heariong the conversation that he seems to be having with Richard Nixons portrait.....

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