By HELEN THOMAS
"WASHINGTON -- Say it isn't so. Hawkish Henry Kissinger is advising President Bush about Iraq war strategy? This is déjà vu all over again.
The former secretary of state -- who served in that job from 1973 to 1979 and previously from 1969 as national security affairs adviser -- inspires too many bad memories of the Vietnam War.
I remember when Kissinger came into the White House press room in 1972 just before the presidential election and announced "peace is at hand."
Three years later, we fled Saigon by our fingertips. Who can forget the pictures of refugees piling into helicopters parked on Saigon rooftops, with the North Vietnamese army at the gate.
Kissinger is back as an elder statesman doling out advice to embattled Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that "victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."
Kissinger's message to the president and his top aides -- including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- was they should not give an inch and to stick it out in Iraq.
He maintained that Vietnam collapsed like a house of cards because the Nixon administration did not have time, focus, energy and political support and the American people did not have the will.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said Kissinger told him "he supports the overall thrust and direction of the administration policy" in Iraq.
Kissinger also is quoted as saying that Bush needed to resist pressure to withdraw troops since that would create a momentum for an exit that is less than victory.
Woodward said on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" on Oct. 1 that "Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will." Well, Kissinger was right about that. The reason is simple: People saw no reason to lose more lives there.
His views match the administration's 35-page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" issued last year.
The administration would prefer not to evoke memories of the Vietnam quagmire, the 58,000-plus American war dead, and its bitter legacy, yet it all sounds too familiar when we hear officials insist we need to "stay the course" and deride dissenters as those who want to "cut and run."
They seem to forget that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.""