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SEOUL — The spectacle of political confusion in Iraq today provides a window into the past. Rather than emulating the successful occupation of Germany or Japan as originally envisaged by U.S. policy planners, it is increasingly a carbon copy of the occupation that failed in Korea. And as Yale historian Paul Kennedy reminds us, “although history never repeats itself exactly, it should never be ignored entirely.”

Just like Korea more than 50 years ago, the United States has literally walked into a revolution. Like Iraq, Korea was simultaneously liberated and occupied by the U.S. and the Soviet Union — allies in the war against Japan but Cold War adversaries. As in Iraq, the Korean occupation got off to a bad start by retaining Japanese officials and their Korean collaborators of the colonial government, earning the enmity of the Korean population.

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