For those of us who lived through the Vietnam War, this piece in the Washington Post is full of strange echoes & the sound of machinery clanging in the background as the sets are changed. It is full of the same kinds of assertions spoken by the same kinds of politicians & generals using the same cliches & engaging in the same forms of magical thinking as their fathers & grandfathers employed to fool themselves & the American people that this is / was a noble & high-minded undertaking & (more importantly) that it could be done. At least in Vietnam the vast majority of the population wanted a single nation with a single government; in Iraq the people want to live in sectarian subdivisions of the old colonial hodge-podge -- & some, I suspect, don't want any strong government to emerge because lack of central authority simplifies their corrupt & criminal projects. It's bad enough that we have, in the US, an elaborate structure of fantasies about Vietnam that prevent us from thinking clearly & understanding what happened there, but that war is long past. That we are developing a similarly false structure of meaning about Iraq even as we are fighting there does not bode well. Not for "the effort," as early Vietnam hawks called that war, & not, certainly, for "the troops," around which a kind of hagiographic fog has formed, preventing us from even seeing them as individuals who might be asked to reflect on their participation in a war their fellow-citizens do not support & that is fundamentally unwinable.