The French learned more from their experience in Algeria than the US did from Vietnam. Both occupations killed tens of thousands of occupying soldiers and millions of civilians before they ended.
But what the French learned is that the tactics they used to occupy Algeria came home. That is, the manipulation of the media, the detention camps, the arrests without charges, the spying on civilians, the militarization, the corruption of the political process all came back to infect French society. Jean Paul Sartre wrote that if a country doesn’t respect human rights and self determination abroad, those concepts are slowly undermined at home. Occupation, in other words, destroys democracy in both countries.
Perhaps the occupation of Iraq will be our learning experience. We know that our phones and e-mails are monitored by huge computers. We read the false stores planted in our press. We see the pictures of Guantanamo and know that any one of us could end up as an "enemy combatant" and disappear. We watch as our own government approves the use of water boarding, a sinister form of torture.
And the militarization of our society? Hillary Clinton, while espousing peace, gets more campaign contributions from US weapons makers than any other candidate in the presidential race. The corruption of our political process by the military industrial complex is nearly complete.
Iraq is in chaos; we see it on TV. Less obvious is the fact that democracy is dying right here in America.