Thursday, March 23, 2006

Walter Cronkite: Another Misbegotten & Mismanaged War

Documentary Sends Warning to Congress

Not unlike the Vietnam quagmire on which I reported in 1968, we are today presented with the Iraq quagmire. The threat of world communism has been replaced by international terror as a pretext for another misbegotten and mismanaged war, but the falsehoods, broken promises and withering national faith are too familiar.

Now, as then, with each further escalation, we come closer to the brink of cosmic disaster. A recent poll revealed that three-fourths of U.S. troops serving in Iraq want full withdrawal, one-fourth immediately. Despite the executive's stubborn optimism, two-thirds of the public now favor withdrawal.

Yet in Congress, such voices are the minority.

In my February 1968 broadcast, I called the position of Vietnam a stalemate.

I'm not sure ''stalemate'' fits the U.S. military's loose footing in the sands of Iraq, but the need to cut losses does. In the wake of the Golden Mosque bombing in Samarra, Shiites and Sunnis now clash across the region. Our men and women in uniform face the task of trying to stave off a civil war when their very presence as an occupying force more often than not fuels the violence and represents an obstacle to Shiite and Sunni reconciliation.

As I stated in relation to Vietnam, the only rational way out is to proceed not as victors but as an honorable people who tried to defend democracy the best they could. Recently, I suggested that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina there was an opportunity to withdraw from Iraq and still maintain our sense of honor. We had an urgent need to redirect our resources to the aid of our communities and people stricken by the devastation of the great storm. Almost no one on Capitol Hill was listening.

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