Barack, Don't Go to Baghdad

John McCain wants Barack Obama to join him on a visit to Baghdad. But the trip's a trap

Illustration by John Ritter for TIME

In 1978, with America's ally the Shah of Iran under siege, President Jimmy Carter asked a former diplomat named George Ball to study the situation and recommend a course of action. Ball's chief qualification was that he, more than any other high-level U.S. official, had been right about Vietnam--from early on, he had warned it would be a quagmire. Ball accepted Carter's offer but refused to visit Iran. In the 1960s he had watched one colleague after another set off on fact-finding missions to Vietnam, and each returned convinced that America could win the war. "I had learned from our Vietnam...

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