Recently, John Kerry referred to the war on Iraq as "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time", one of the clearest condemnations he has made yet on the war. This made some people curious as to the strong tone Kerry took against a war he voted for.

One of the answers for this is that the quote is not an original, and is actually a paraphrase of a statement by General Omar Bradley, speaking of the Korean War. Very few news sources (judging by a search of Google News) seem to have picked up on the historical parallel. I only discovered it by coincidence while reading American Caeser, a biography of General Douglas MacArthur.

Whether or not the quote was conscious, and whether it was picked for its sound, or whether a historical analogy was intended, is something that I don't know enough about the background of Senator Kerry to fathom. A case could be made that it was meant to draw a historical parallel between Iraq and the Korean War.

Any two historical periods can be seen as parallel, depending on how loosely you wish to corral facts together. The analogy here could be that the main goal of US foreign policy in the early 1950s was to protect Western Europe from communist domination. However, once US forces entered Korea, they got bogged down in a costly war that removed forces and material from the main theater of operations, something that many of the US military and diplomatic establishment, especially those with ties to Europe, disliked. However, this was generally supported because large members of both the public and the establishment believed that all communist forces were working in tandem, and thus a blow against communism in Korea would indirectly protect Western Europe. The analogy with the current situation could be that the main thrust of US policy currently is to disrupt terrorist organizations hiding under Islamist regimes. Committing troops to Iraq for a long war has seemed to distract from that cause. However, many members of the public still support this because they believe (subconsciously or consciously) that all Arabs must be working together, and thus placing several US divisions in Iraq indirectly is the equivalent of fully policing the borderlands of Afghanistan.

When Senator Kerry made his comment, did he wish to include the hints of this complicated analogy? Or was it just a good slogan? If he did mean this analogy, how accurate is it?

Time will tell.

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