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June 6, 1944. Date ring a bell? Today is the anniversary of D-Day.
For anybody much younger than me, that was the invasion you saw in "Saving Private Ryan." It was also the military gamble that won the war, an enormous effort that cost many American lives but paid an equally enormous return, a return on investments we are all enjoying today, some six decades plus later.
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, a five-star general and later president, ordered that invasion. And if any of the families of the dead were bitter about it, he took the blame instead of passing it off on the Nazis, who occupied those French beachheads and were shooting back.
The Washington Post ran an editorial today about the note that Eisenhower carried in his wallet, which was to be read in case the invasion failed. This is what that note said:
"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
The Washington Post, in reminding us of Eisenhower's words, was trying to say other leaders should follow his example, and I would assume they mean George W. Bush.
If the surge fails, should Bush read Eisenhower's note to the nation and then order his generals to prepare our withdrawal from Iraq? Maybe. It would definitely help his place in history. Taking blame for things gone wrong is a winning formula for gaining the favor of historians. And Bush may well have to do it.
But even if he does, I think many of us will say yes, OK, fine, but what did the Iraqis do with the opportunity we gave them? If Iraqis allow the insurgencies and sectarian terrorists to chase the Americans out, their country will be a hell of their own making, no matter what George W. Bush says.
That's My Word.
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