After having read Ripples of Battle by Victor Davis Hanson, and seeing A Bridge Too Far and A Band of Brothers. I thought I would add a few cents worth of commentary on the war in Iraq, because the perspective offered us by history is invaluable.
Both A Bridge Too Far and A Band of Brothers detail the trials and tribulations of soldiers in the European theater in WWII, perhaps the last military endeavor we can more or less agree was both noble and necessary (put your hand down Heller). Hanson's' Ripples of Battle include details of the Okinawa campaign.
You can easily argue from these samples that our victory was the result of doing little more than screwing things up slightly less than the German and Japanese. Operation Market Garden was a disaster, resulting in the loss of thousands of airborne troops. The battle for the Argonne Forest during the infamous Battle of the Bulge chewed through thousands of soldiers for miniscule strategic gain. Okinawa fell only after tens of thousands of Americans were hurt or killed, and a hundred thousand Japanese were shredded.
Weapons failed, equipment failed, tactics failed, intelligence failed. Losses were staggering as great ideas blew apart when the enemy got his vote, as the old war saw goes.
I remember an old Sergeant who had served in the Canadian army during WWII speaking of the invasion of Normandy (I don't think he was part of the invasion, but he was a conduit of interesting anecdote). Sherman tanks were rigged to "swim" with big canvas accordion walls that lifted up from the sides. These canvas gizmos increased the volume the tank displaced enough to theoretically allow the tank to float.
They didn't work well at all, and hundreds of tanks and their crews were lost to somebody's big idea. That's just one example among hundreds veterans can tell of the incompetence and idiocy of the military and the civilians who hold the reigns.
The political and tactical ineptitude of the Allies cost us thousands upon...