1968 All Over Again

War and presidential politics make for dangerous mix

By Betty Kilbride

On February 8, 1968, in one of his first actions to break from President Johnson and his stance on the Vietnam War, then-Sen. Robert Kennedy gave his “unwinnable war” speech. This Washington-based writer sees troubling parallels to the campaign of 2008.

When I hear people say, “I support the troops, but not the war,” my immediate response is, “I support the war, not the troops.”

As I see that perplexed look come over their face, I immediately respond, “That sounded stupid, didn’t it?” Their response is always the same: “Yes it did.” To which I reply, “Sounded just as stupid as what you just said.”

You see, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot support the troops and not the mission. You either support them both – or do not send them into battle. Sending troops into a combat zone is not a walk around the block; sending them into battle is serious business. If you are not going to support your fellow Americans on the battlefield then you are not a true American. You need to rethink your priorities and your loyalty.

This goes for politicians as well; they have changed their mind on this issue to suit their own needs. When I hear a politician change his or her mind about the war on terrorism, I am reminded of one speech that says it all, and was delivered by a man I admire greatly – Robert F. Kennedy.

Delivered only three years after stating he thought the involvement of American forces in Vietnam was the right thing to do for liberty and freedom, he changed his mind during his own bid for the presidency. Kennedy urged in February 1968 that we should “rid ourselves of the good company of those illusions which have lured us into the deepening swamp of Vietnam.”

These words helped a nation begin to unravel.

We need to ask ourselves, where is the leadership? Where is the leadership from which those who want to be leaders? Everyone wants to step up and get the job, but who is stepping up with something that would make us want to follow him or her?

Politicians’ personal disrespect for our military has resulted in lives lost on the battlefield. How soon they forget their responsibility to the American people when it is more important to get their names in the paper for that next election.

Betty Kilbride is author or “America United: A Generation’s Sacrifice during World War II”. Email Betty at: myladyindc@msn.com

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