Philosopher George Santayana is credited with the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Over on The Huffington Post this morning, there is an excellent example of the truth of that statement. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. writes: “In 1968, my father, running for president, addressed in a speech, the White House’s proposal for a troop surge in Vietnam. Robert Kennedy had initially supported the U.S. intervention in Vietnam. Forty years later, as Congress and the White House debate the further escalation of yet another war that has already claimed the lives of an astounding 640,000 Iraqis, killed 3,256 U.S. soldiers and wounded another 50,000, his words should have special resonance to those of our political leaders who are still searching for the right course in Iraq.”
The excerpt that follows could be delivered with only a few word changes as a speech today. It includes RFK’s reasons for concern about the escalating war in Vietnam:
“I am concerned – as I believe most Americans are concerned – that our present course will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance the interests of the United States or the cause of peace in the world. I am concerned that, at the end of it all, there will only be more Americans killed; more of our treasure spilled out; and because of the bitterness and hatred on every side of this war, more hundreds of thousands of [civilians] slaughtered…”
And Bobby’s concluding charge is one for us to hear today:
“I ask you to go forth and work for new policies – work to change our direction – and thus restore our place at the point of moral leadership, in our country, in our hearts, and all around the world.”
His words make me remember why he was the first politician to gain my interest, that spring when I was 17 years old.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Adviser at Sojourners/Call to Renewal.