John McCain: I think the big difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that after we lost and withdrew from Vietnam, they didn’t wanna follow us home. I think it’s very clear if you read Bin Laden’s, ..., or ..., these other people, they wanna follow us home. They view Iraq as a stepping stone to America. So the dimensions of the conflict have changed dramatically. It’s eerie in a way. Some of the comparisons of the early stages of the Vietnam War and the strategy that was used in the Rumsfeld strategy, they were both failed strategies and they were very similar. And so on the ground that’s a little but eerie.
It was called “Search and Destroy”. In Vietnam they went out and killed bad guys and came back to base. That was what Rumsfeld was . . . strategy was doing before. Then we got General Abrams as the head of the military in Vietnam. And they went out and they . . . went out and they secured areas, and they stayed, and they allowed the normal life to begin. That’s the same thing that happened . . . that ... strategy in Vietnam under . . . in Iraq under General Petraeus. We go out, and we secure an area, and we patrol all the time with Iraqi military and we don’t leave. It caused an upsurge in casualties. They are now coming way back down because the strategy is succeeding. That happened with General Abrams too. In the Vietnam War, the people ran out of patience and demanded that we do nothing else, even though our troops had already withdrawn from Vietnam. In this war, the question is, “Will the Baghdad clock and the Washington clock be the same?” And that’s not clear to me, although we had beaten back the Democrats’ efforts to set the date for withdrawal a short a time ago as last week.
I think the other part, though, that is most heartening to me is America is very divided about this war; but none of us are divided in our support of the men and women who are serving in uniform. And unfortunately in the Vietnam War, it wasn’t like that. So I’m proud not only of these young men and woman who are serving because of the best of America; but I’m proud of America in that we are supporting these young men and women no matter how we feel about the war and whether it’s right or wrong. And I think it’s . . . It’s something that is very, very important, and one that I can’t tell you how much I appreciate.
Recorded on: 11/20/07