Rep. Sam Johnson Learns to Love Foreign Quagmires


John Podhoretz points us to a stirring speech by Rep. Sam Johnson, the former Vietnam War POW and Texas Republican who closed out the debate over the troop surge resolution.

I wholeheartedly support withholding funds… Although it is a drastic step and ties the President's hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The President has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders.

Thirty years ago when I was sent to Vietnam in a similar situation, Vietnam started out as a peace type mission, no defined goal, no exit strategy, no idea whose side we were on, and a created incident to gain support of the Congress. A peacekeeping mission? Come on. Does this not sound just like a carbon copy? I think it is.

D'oh! That's not Johnson's speech on Iraq—that's his speech from 1995 and the debate over sending troops to Bosnia, dug up by the verbose liberal blogger Digby. Johnson's Iraq speech is up at his website, and it reveals that, yes, the party made a good choice putting him up as their spokesman against the surge resolution. He can wave the bloody shirt to cry havoc and to beat a retreat. He's grizzled, battle-hardened, emanating experience. He's like a Jack Murtha who can finish sentences.

Obviously, war hawks will say Iraq is totally different than the Balkans; Bosnia posed no strategic threat to the U.S. (like Iraq before we invaded) and we faced no danger of blowback if we lost and pulled out (like Iraq after we invaded). All true. Also, while the likely ascension of Hillary Clinton to the presidency brings with it much horror and bloodshed, these octannual changes in the ruling family—Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton—will make the foreign policy flip-flops of our Congressfolk much, much funnier.