As the debate begins over what to do about our massive military presence in Afghanistan, in the wake of the death of Osama Bin Laden, and even Senate Foreign Relations committee chair Kerry questions what our goals now are in that country, I recalled the following excerpt from an essay I’ve recently written on my own Vietnam experience, as follows:

“Even back in those days of a military draft, most American men had managed, either through dumb luck, political connections or serial deferments, to dodge active military service. I had embraced my bad luck, as it were, and sought to make the most of it. In some ways I’d succeeded. In other ways, my own experience was a microcosm of the futility, the waste and the lies of war. America didn’t end the bloodshed in Vietnam until 1975, thanks in large part to the cynical political maneuverings of Nixon, Kissinger and Chennault before that seminal election in the fall of 1968. America had lost its first war. I was reminded of a quotation from Isaac Asimov I’d seen at the foundation museum in Gernika, Spain, site of Franco and Hitler’s carpet-bombing atrocity during the Spanish Civil War, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” My experience suggests that the gold bars I once worked so diligently to earn, and proudly wore, were largely worn in vain.”