- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Charles A. Krohn
Best Defense guest columnist
Mitt Romney, facing the clear prospect of losing the presidential election, needs to throw a long ball. I suggest he repudiate the invasion of Iraq and the handling of the war in Afghanistan.
If Romney demonstrates courage by breaking with the past, it may restore vigor to his foundering campaign. Some old Bush advisors may feel they are being thrown under the bus, but the numbers favor the less-rigid and political savvy youth whose votes could swing the election.
By not renouncing Bush’s costly errors explicitly, Romney endorses them by default, troubling many party loyalists looking for a clean break with disastrous Republican decisions. And by having as his advisors several people who championed "Curveball" (the phony CIA informer) and Ahmed Chalabi (the exile who was a favorite of several senior Pentagon officials), he implicitly endorses their failures.
Republicans should take pride in the obstinacy of George H.W. Bush, who opposed the invasion of Iraq and perhaps persuaded Brent Scowcroft to denounce the idea. If Romney could draw some inspiration from GHWB’s fortitude, it would separate and purify the party from its past miscalculations and perhaps swing the election.
(Author’s note: As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I share the anguish of survivors of recent and on-going conflicts who mourn the loss of family and friends. It will take several generations to overcome this pain. Nor can their sacrifices be dismissed as useless exercises. They obeyed orders and executed the foreign policy of their times. Errors in policy cannot be laid on their doorstep nor blemish their memories. Amen.)
Charles A. Krohn is the author of The Lost Battalion of Tet. Now retired to Panama City Beach, Florida, he served in the Vietnam War, in Iraq in 2003-2004 as public affairs adviser to the director of the Infrastructure Reconstruction Program, and later as public affairs officer for the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.| Passport |