Much of the conventional wisdom associated with Vietnam was highly inaccurate. Far from an inevitable result of the imperative to contain communism, the war was only made possible through lies and deceptions aimed at the American public, Congress, and members of Lyndon Johnson's own administration.
It's important to study and understand your responsibilities within any profession, but it's particularly important for military officers to read, think, discuss, and write about the problem of war and warfare so they can understand not just the changes in the character of warfare but also the continuities.
The professed war-weariness among populations who have sent only a small percentage of their sons and daughters to fight in recent wars may derive from a failure to communicate effectively what is at stake in those wars and explain why the efforts are worthy of the risks, resources, and sacrifices necessary to sustain the strategy.
What is certain about the future is that even the best efforts to predict the conditions of future war will prove erroneous. What is important, however, is to not be so far off the mark that visions of the future run counter to the very nature of war and render American forces unable to adapt to unforeseen challenges.
I think any of us who have been involved in the mission of Iraq have developed a great deal of affection for the Iraqi people and are emotionally invested in what we think is a vital mission... So I think any of my contemporaries would welcome the opportunity to go back and make a contribution to this extraordinarily important mission.
In the years leading up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thinking about defense was driven by ideas that regarded successful military operations as ends in themselves rather than just one instrument of power that must be coordinated with others to achieve - and sustain - political goals.
When we came to Iraq, we didn't understand the complexity - what it meant for a society to live under a brutal dictatorship with ethnic and sectarian divisions. When we first got here, we made a lot of mistakes. We were like a blind man, trying to do the right thing but breaking a lot of things.