Thirty five years ago, a young John Kerry stood on the Mall in Washington, D.C. and called for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. He has been ruthlessly attacked for that moment of truth and he's about to be attacked again.
Today, John Kerry joined Jack Murtha in calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In a best case scenario, our troops are home by the end of the year. In a worst case, they are home by the end of May. The choice belongs to the leaders of Iraq as it should.
These two decorated war veterans have come to face the same stubborn conclusion: there is not going to be a glorious moment of victory in Iraq - there won't be a I-Day when we declare victory, kiss in Times Square and let the confetti fly. This war cannot be won by our military - if you doubt that statement, just ask them.
In war, as in life, sometimes there are only two options, lose a little or lose a lot more. As John Kerry noted today, more than half of the soldiers who are memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC died long after the leaders in Washington knew the mission was lost. Lyndon Johnson stated he didn't see any way of winning in Vietnam - and he said that when less than three hundred Americans had died.
The mission such as it was is finished in Iraq - the only question is what we do about it. Do we face the reality and deal with the hands we currently hold? Men like Jack Murtha and John Kerry demand that we answer yes.
Predictably, conservative pundits and right wing bloggers have jumped on today's news - another new position on Iraq, watch John Kerry flip flop again. They'll clamor with glee and attack him. But John Kerry is right.
Just like he was in 2002 when he stated "the Bush administration must first present detailed evidence of the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and then prove that all other avenues of protecting our nation's security interests have been exhausted..." before we went to war.
Just just like he was in 2002 when he stated that the rebuilding effort "is going to be long term, costly and not without difficulty, given Iraq's ethnic and religious divisions and history of domestic turbulence."
And just like he was right in 1972 when John Kerry asked "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
The question still stands. The answer remains the same.