This morning, he brought up the quagmire that is Iraq, and compared it to the quagmire that was Vietnam, saying something to the effect that though reasonable people might disagree why we got into either conflict, we shouldn't make the same mistakes we made in Vietnam again in Iraq, i.e., pulling out before we've "won."
Actually reasonable people do agree why we got into both conflicts - lies. And reasonable people (i.e., historians and other "liberals") know why neither conflict was/is winnable, in the way that WWII was. If you don't know anything about the country you're "helping" you might end up hurting instead. And in the case of Hitler, we could sorta really see a threat, there.
We were lied into Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, where a destroyer was supposedly fired upon by the North Vienamese (commies!). There was no such incident, but the American people were told there was, and a compliant media kept repeating the lie over and over again. Once we were in, our Generals kept talking about "winning" and "victory," against a population that pretty much didn't want us there, North or South, except for the rulers we installed against the people's will. The population of that country was willing to die to the last person to get us out.
Our president at the time (and now we're talking Nixon) bombed other countries without authorization from Congress (i.e., Cambodia), paid locals and mercenaries to do our dirty work, while CIA agents were dropped into places like Laos to harvest the opium crop, for sale in America, and to our GIs fighting in Vietnam.
So where was the mistake - in leaving the country prematurely? Or by going in in the first place?
(this is not a trick question)
The thing we (should have) learned from Vietnam is: don't assume technological superiority can win the war. You have to have moral superiority over whatever you're replacing. The fact that we went in on a pack of lies wasn't lost on the Iraqis, nor the rest of the world (Great Britain notwithstanding). The fact that we took up where Saddam left off in places like Abu Ghraib really didn't help our cause. Then again, we went into Iraq with our commander-in-chief not knowing beforehand that there were three distinct groups who might all want power on their own terms after the fall of Saddam.
Charles Colson (Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon) had a quote on his wall during the Vietnam war (and pardon my french): "When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow." Problem is, in both Iraq and Vietnam, we never had them by the you-know-whats.
Iraq was a secular dictatorship, not affiliated with any terrorist organization, and not holding any Weapons of Mass Destruction they could use effectively against their neighbors. So we went in to find those WMDs. And to rout the terrorists. And then to impose democracy. In that order. No matter what the facts actually were.
Oh, yeah, and there's all that oil.