Through the prism of Viet Nam
That's how someone of my age sees any U.S.-initiated war.
One of the sources of my deep uneasiness about backing James Webb for Senate is that he stands on the other side of the great gulf in our generation and our party over Viet Nam. Despite Webb's sound and early opposition to the war on Iraq, he makes no connection between it and the Viet Nam war. Far from acknowledging that war as a fundamentally doomed assault based on lies, Webb was actually a proponent of the late 1970s "stabbed in the back" Viet Nam narrative that poisons our politics to this day.
In contrast, William Odom's assessment seems sane and accurate. In Iraq Through the Prism of Vietnam he outlines the three phases of the earlier war and their failures:
Phase One...began with hesitation and a gross misreading of American strategic interests (the “containment of China”). It concluded with the U.S. use of phony intelligence that made it seem that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf without provocation.
Phase Two...was marked by a refusal to reconsider the war’s strategic rationale. Rather, debate focused only on tactical issues as the war went sour.
Phase Three...was marked by “Vietnamization” and “make-believe diplomacy” in Paris, policies still ignoring the strategic realities at the war’s beginning. ... The key problem in South Vietnam had always been achieving a political consolidation among anti-Viet Cong elites. It was not building effective military and police forces.
Odom goes on to marshal persuasive parallels with the Iraq war, and puts us at late stage two/early stage three. Given how much more quickly we're moving through the stages, unless we withdraw soon, it may not be much longer before the helicopters start to lift off.