Document Type


Publication Date



The past has a way of repeating itself. Events may not reoccur in the precise manner previously experienced; yet, the pattern often is sufficiently familiar to resemble one encountered before. For those who experienced the Vietnam years, the war in Iraq carries some feeling of “déjà vu all over again.”[1] There are differences, to be sure, yet a familiar pattern emerges—a failed discretionary war on foreign shores, executive use of manipulated intelligence to build support, the parade of shifting rationales offered to replace those exposed as unconvincing, the presidential deceit and dissembling, the legislative abdication.

Thomas F. Eagleton spent the last years of his life preoccupied with the war in Iraq. From the outset, he recognized it as an ill-conceived mission which could not be accomplished, as a disaster waiting to happen. He witnessed from afar the executive overreaching and the congressional surrender. He had seen it all before, during the 1960s and 1970s, in Vietnam. Eagleton was not part of the political leadership that blundered into Vietnam; instead, he went to the Senate in 1968 as an avowed dove anxious to extricate America from that debacle. That effort became a central commitment of his extraordinary first term in the Senate. The Eagleton Amendment to end the bombing of Cambodia was a significant event in that term.