Reading today's stories about what's happening in parts of Iraq as the British prepare to leave, I couldn't help but have a flashback to 40 years ago, when I came back to The World after 17 months in Vietnam.
As a Marine combat correspondent, I'd seen a good share of the I Corps, south of the Demilitarized Zone, writing both about combat operations and "good news" about the "pacification" program designed to win over the civilian population and woo them away from the Viet Cong.
In September 1967, I believed we were making some progress, albeit slow -- not so much on the battlefield, but in the battle for "hearts and minds."
On the color-coded maps back at division headquarters, it all looked very promising.
Five months later, back in the States, it was stunning to read accounts of the enemy's Tet offensive, when it turned out that hardly any of those so-called "pacified" areas were secure at all.
Some of my buddies and I, who were there in the early years of the war, joke about it now. "When we left, we were winning. Those guys who came later screwed it all up," we say.
But we were never winning.
And we are not winning in Iraq.