What Iraq needs is a Walter Cronkite

USA Today

  What Iraq needs is a Walter Cronkite President Bush went on the air this week to pretend again that things are OK in Iraq. Shades of President Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam nearly 40 years ago.

The most important similarity between Iraq and Vietnam is that both Democratic and Republican presidents lied to us in wartime. To refresh your memory, here’s how we got out of the Vietnam quagmire:

•Walter Cronkite, CBS-TV news anchor known as “the most trusted man in America,” after a combat tour of Vietnam in 1968 declared, “There is no way this war can be justified any longer.”

•Johnson lamented to aides, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” He announced he would not run for re-election.

The crucial difference between Vietnam and Iraq is that there is no Cronkite to call Bush’s bluff. Without a strong, trusted, non-political voice, too many of us remain Bush-blinded. Bush tried keeping the wool over our eyes again Tuesday on national TV by repeatedly tying Iraq to 9/11. That charge is as phony as his discredited prewar claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Most of us who have had personal war experiences strongly believe this great country is worth fighting for at risk of lives. My World War II Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge on the wall behind my desk remind me of that daily.

They also remind me that war is hell, that we must fully support our servicemen and women and put their lives at risk only for honest and just and noble causes.

That’s why I’m convinced the best way to support our troops in Iraq is to bring them home. Sooner rather than later.

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