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A history lesson

July 18, 2006

In "Is U.S. Winning? Army Chief Is at a Loss" (July 15), America's senior army officer wouldn't say that U.S. forces are winning the Iraq war and could only report that they're not losing. That's the definition of quagmire and crystallizes the notion of asymmetrical warfare. The Iraqi insurgents win if they don't lose, whereas the American occupiers must actually win in order to succeed. The history of countless occupations shows that the former is hugely easier to accomplish, and the latter is nearly impossible. But those who got our great nation into this mess were unburdened by an understanding of history.

DUANE PETERSON

Essex, Vt.

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