So great was anti-war pressure across America that Nixon, soon after announcing the foray into the communist base areas, placed a strict limit on the presence of American troops in Cambodia — no more than 60 days. Nor would they go down much beyond the Ho Chi Minh trail network which Hanoi had been sending supplies to for years.
That wasn't all. Just to pin down American forces still more tightly, the next January, our Congress passed the Cooper-Church amendment barring military operations inside Cambodia as a condition for the military budget.
The North Vietnamese suffered devastating blows while American troops were there but had plenty of time to regroup and mount a full-scale invasion of South Vietnam two years later — the Easter offensive — in which they were again thrown back, only to recover and return one last time in the winter and spring of 1975 when all American troops had gone.
Now Congress is playing the same game. Forgetting the lesson of 1970, the House and Senate want to set a limit on the duration of U.S. military operations inside Iraq.
The voting on this maneuver has broken down largely along party lines — the Democrats shouting down the Republicans, but you don't have to be a card-carrying conservative or a Republican to recognize this bid for legislative command of the armed forces as a betrayal of our troops.
We are not going to win a war, or get out with any semblance of honor, by telling our enemy to just lie low for a while and next month or next year we'll be gone. America lost in Vietnam as a result of anti-war opposition at home.
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