While liberals commonly scoff at the comparison between WW2 and the Iraq War and prefer to dredge up their inevitable Vietnam references with even some conservatives joining in, the reality is that there is far more overlap between WW2 and the Iraq war than many realize.
Part of the problem is that most people have bought into the Spielbergized image of WW2 as a clean war with a clear enemy and for which victory brought a clean end. But the reality was quite different.
During the US occupation of Germany, American forces faced threats on two fronts. First the various elements of the Nazi party and particularly the SS, analogous to the Baathists in Iraq, also formed underground organizations with the aim of carrying on an active insurgency against America. The most famous of these was Operation Werewolf which functioned much like the original Sunni resistance did. In fact Saddam Hussein may have derived his plan for the Sunni resistance from Operation Werewolf. The irony then would be that both the US and the Baathists were replaying a modified version of a WW2 endgame with some tactical improvements.
The difference is that the United States was able to nip the various Nazi insurgencies in the bud far quicker than the United States was able to deal with the Sunni insurgency. The differences were made up because of vastly larger troop strength in Germany, much better intelligence and a wider grasp of the German language on the part of the American forces, making them much less dependent on native translators.
Now if the Nazis were the Sunnis in the equation, the Communists were the Shiites. The United States had initially allied with the Soviet Union and Communists had initially greeted them as friends, much the way the Shiites had cheered us. This however gave way to suspicion and planned violence as the Soviet Union then, much like Iran today, decided it wanted Germany for itself.
While Communist forces in Western Europe never exploded into the kind of open violence against American forces practiced by the Shiites in Iran mainly because the US successfully confronted and checkmated the USSR in Berlin, resulting in the Cold War. The American failure to do that with Iran combined with the extra destabilizing presence of Al Queda, a factor that did not exist in Germany (the equivalent would have been some international fascist terrorist supergroup) led to the disaster in Iraq today.
In short we have mostly put down the Sunni threat as we did the Nazi threat after several years, though after far more violence and a greater loss of life, but the Shiite threat now exists as the Communist threat would consume Western Europe for a long time afterward, as Iran like the USSR sits on the border and funds and promotes terrorism within while planning for war.
Communism's battleground shifted away from Europe, where Communist terrorists had dominated for decades before WW2 and though groups such as Bader-Meinhof would continue to be a factor, the USSR instead promoted terrorist groups in the Middle East and South America, which continue to be a threat today. History now repeats itself as Iran has been pursuing engagement in South America through Venezuela and may have a hand in FARC as well.
If you really want to see just how similar the times really are, consider the following piece of leftist defeatist reporting from John Dos Passos writing in Life Magazine and you'll find it reads like a carbon copy of a modern day Newsweek or New York Times story on Iraq.
The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”
A tour of the beaten-up cities of Europe six months after victory is a mighty sobering experience for anyone. Europeans. Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. They cite the evolution of the word “liberation.” Before the Normandy landings it meant to be freed from the tyranny of the Nazis. Now it stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.
You try to explain to these Europeans that they expected too much. They answer that they had a right to, that after the last was America was the hope of the world. They talk about the Hoover relief, the work of the Quakers, the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. They don’t blame us for the fading of that hope. But they blame us now.
Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. People never tire of telling you of the ignorance and rowdy-ism of American troops, of out misunderstanding of European conditions.
We know now the tragic results of the ineptitudes of the Peace of Versailles. The European system it set up was Utopia compared to the present tangle of snarling misery. The Russians at least are carrying out a logical plan for extending their system of control at whatever cost. The British show signs of recovering their good sense and their innate human decency. All we have brought to Europe so far is confusion backed up by a drumhead regime of military courts. We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.
It will be interesting to see how the Iraq War will go down in history three decades from now. Remember that history repeats itself.