The Sept. 19 editorial explaining why security is necessary for success in Iraq shows why comparisons with Vietnam are apt. The problem in Vietnam was always that the U.S. military did not do what was necessary to provide security for the Vietnamese people.

Guerrilla tactics call for turning a populace against the opposing army. The Viet Cong succeeded and so have the insurgents in Iraq. We have recruited police and military forces and allowed them to be killed by car bombs, kidnapped, and sent into action without sufficient training or backup. U.S. aircraft strafe civilians in Fallujah and Baghdad in the same manner as the free-fire-zone ambushes that wiped out civilians in Vietnam for the offense of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Our military is repeating many of the errors of Vietnam. But failing to provide security is enough to doom our efforts.

I used to believe in Colin L. Powell's "Pottery Barn" rules, but I have concluded that the battle is lost. When that happened in Vietnam, we remained for eight more years and lost 40,000 more soldiers. I wish we'd learned our lesson.


Ocean Park, Wash.