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History can repeat itself, but we have the choice to determine which path to follow.

In the 1950s, we fought a war to preserve the independence of South Korea, and we accomplished that mission.

We succeeded in large part because of national leadership -- not in Washington D.C., but in Seoul. President Rhee Syng Man was the national hero who had fought against the Japanese imperialists in World War II, and the people were on his side. With Rhee's backing, we won.

Later, when we faced a superficially similar challenge in Vietnam, we fought for 12 years, lost 50,000 killed and ultimately lost that war. The national hero, Ho Chi Minh, who fought against the Japanese imperialists in World War II, was on the other side, and our effort was doomed from the start.

Fighting the Vietnam war cost us dearly in casualties and in national morale. In the long run, admitting defeat cost us nothing but pride. Vietnam is now a trading partner.

Sen. John McCain fought in that war, and endured captivity with honor and valor. His body still bears the scars.

Unfortunately, his judgment may as well. He measures our misadventure in Iraq in terms of winning and losing. But our purported mission, removal of a nonexistent threat to our country, was a phony excuse to begin with, put forth by the neocons.

The destruction of Saddam's programs to create atomic weapons had already been accomplished by an air raid during the Clinton era. More importantly, we had destroyed his will to fight us during the Gulf War, the real objective of any military action.

Our current invasion has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Now we can't win because we can't define victory. The mission has been redefined half a dozen times, and the pointless war grinds on.

A fanatic has been defined as a person who having lost sight of his objective, redoubles his efforts. If you ask me, John McCain fits this definition when it comes to Iraq.

McCain promises to achieve victory in Iraq. He does not realize that the only victory will come when we withdraw our troops and leave the Iraqis to fight their own internecine battles. His purported strong suit, foreign policy, is his most dangerous weakness here.

We learned in Vietnam that mindless flag waving does not substitute for cool evaluation of the facts. Do we need to learn it again?

The current crisis in our financial markets also shows his uncertain hand, aggravated by a poor choice of advisors. Wise leaders choose wise advisors.

Senator Barack Obama has consulted with the likes of Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker. Following their counsel, he avoided any quick-fix proposal.

Senator McCain still has on his team fired Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Sen. Phil Gramm, who authored the legislation that removed regulations and opened the door to the current market debacle.

One day he is against bailouts, the next he is for it. For decades he has favored deregulation but as the markets slide into chaos he is a convert to regulation. The fatal Gramm legislation passed in 2000 and McCain voted for it. Now he blames Senator Obama for legislation passed years before Obama was in the senate.

In times of crisis people turn to leaders they trust. For my money, cool and competent Obama is an obvious choice over the irascible and erratic McCain. Obama is leading in the polls again, but the wonder is that his lead is so small.


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