As Frances Fitzgerald wrote in "Fire in the Lake," her seminal study of America in Vietnam: "Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind. They believe in the future as if it were a religion, they believe that there is nothing they cannot accomplish."
That sentiment survived Vietnam. I believe it will survive Iraq. American innocence can be a terrible thing. American idealism can be a devastating force. But the world would be much worse off without them.