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.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.