Students of history are familiar with the adage, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
However clichÃ©d, it remains a relevant pearl of wisdom, not just for social studies teachers or history buffs.
The problem, however, is that often people do not necessarily ignore the past, they try to rewrite it.
Mischa Popoff is guilty of this in his last two columns on the situation in Syria.
After readers reminded him of the failures of George W. Bush's war policy and encouraged him to acknowledge that historical events occur in changing environments, with challenges unique to their context, he seems to have changed his tune. Sort of.
He is still committed to the idea that using a disproportionate amount of force is the right strategy for dealing with the Assad regime.
But his last column, "Whose example should Obama follow?" is plagued by many of the same problems, primarily a penchant for letting his imagination evade historical facts.
The Vietnam War example is his most egregious error.
Beginning with John F. Kennedy, three successive U.S. presidents did everything they could, short of a nuclear attack, to destroy the growing influence of the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. Puppet regimes under Diem and later under the generals who murdered him could not contain the rebels.
In 1968, there were more than half a million American soldiers fighting on Vietnamese soil. By the end of the war, seven million tons of bombs had been dropped on the country.
Despite Nixon's promise to end the conflict and his scaling back of ground forces, his administration escalated the scope of the war by bombing Laos and invading Cambodia while continuing its bombardment of Vietnam.
Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all ramped up U.S. efforts; each was wholly unsuccessful. Despite the use of an exorbitant amount of force, the NLF's attempt to rid the country of external rule outnumbered and outmatched American forces.
In the end, the U.S. was handed a humiliating defeat at the hands of a small peasant country that had successfully fought off the Japanese, the French and the Americans.
A decade of intense warfare with more than 58,000 American troops dead achieved nothing.
A large number of GIs who did return home struggled with drug addiction, an inability to secure employment and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Popoff not only ignores the context of the examples he gives, he once again reinvents history to support his opinion - the equivalent of forcing round pegs into square holes.