Perhaps it is a conceit of Americans' self-image as one of the greatest powers in history that motivates comparisons with ancient Athens and Rome in seeking to explain a singularly disastrous foreign escapade. Or maybe the hubris of earlier empires really does offer better insight than the omnipresent Munich and Vietnam analogies into a folly that swiftly took us from "America's greatest strategic triumph" in the Cold War to "our greatest strategic blunder" in Iraq. Yet unexamined is still another perspective-that the Cold War's end is not just a reference point for how fast and how far our influence has fallen, but is the very episode whose misunderstanding lured us into such a colossal misadventure in the first place. Put differently, rather than the lessons of classical Greece and Rome, or of mid twentieth-century Central Europe and Southeast Asia, we might more profitably have pondered experience much closer to hand-that of contemporary central Eurasia. Instead of wondering how our leaders could have been so misguided we might instead ask, "Didn't they learn anything from the Cold War's end and aftermath?"