President Joe Biden escalates U.S. involvement in the no-win war in the Ukraine, in an echo of how a similar no-win escalation in Vietnam ended the political career of Democrat President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. By surprisingly visiting Kyiv and promising increased American financial support for a corrupt regime on Russia’s border, Biden is directly provoking the mighty Russian bear.
Russia’s President Putin quickly responded by suspending Russia’s participation in the New START nuclear arms treaty, which is the only remaining major nuclear treaty between Russia and the U.S. Putin’s linking of nuclear weapons to Biden’s actions is a chilling reminder of the growing risks of Biden’s reckless intervention in that hopeless conflict.
Biden imperils the United States even worse than LBJ did, because Russia has far greater military firepower than North Vietnam ever had. Russia has long-range missiles that could easily reach unprotected American targets, and so does its new ally China, which reportedly sent a high-level delegation to Moscow in order to increase ties between those former antagonists.
Democrats should take a history lesson in how the Vietnam War issue took down LBJ in 1968, when he was at the peak of his political power and younger than age 60. He appeared invincible for reelection against a weak Republican opponent, the twice-defeated retread Richard Nixon, who had been humiliated by a 5-point loss for governor of his home state of California. But then an unfunded, obscure senator-poet from Minnesota named Gene McCarthy, not to be confused with the anti-communist Joe McCarthy from Wisconsin, challenged LBJ in the first presidential primary in New Hampshire. Resistance to LBJ’s pro-war stance enabled McCarthy to embarrass the incumbent by denying him a majority.
LBJ departed the race by the end of the month, and his vice president Hubert Humphrey was ultimately nominated by Democrats for what became a tight contest that fall. Then, as now, young voters were less pro-war than the Democrat politicians, and Nixon appealed to young voters by promising to bring an end to America’s involvement in Vietnam. A similar fate may befall Democrats today if they don’t learn an important lesson from history.