Monday, June 16, 2008

Obama and Ike: Timing the End of a War

Whether or not he is responding to John McCain's goading, Barack Obama's statement today that he is "interested in" going to Iraq before November recalls Dwight Eisenhower's campaign promise in 1952 to go to Korea and do something about ending the war there.

American voters then were weary of protracted fighting far from home as they are now. By his promise, Ike was underscoring his credentials as the man who won World War II and, soon after he was sworn in, made the trip--largely ceremonial--and months later a truce was signed.

Obama is on shakier ground in proposing to signify the end of US support for the war in Iraq and align himself with Prime Minister al-Maliki's desire for withdrawal of our troops.

He should consider making that trip after he takes over the White House, as Eisenhower did, to avoid Republican campaign attacks that he is urging Iraqis to "surrender" to insurgents and extremists and that he is undermining and endangering American troops.

Those charges won't be true but, in ending a war as all other life-and-death situations, timing is crucial.

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