[He] asked why some who supported the war were arguing that we must persist because we could not afford another "defeated army " of the kind we had seen after Vietnam. Here is what I told him:
Their argument is wrong in fact and unintentionally unfair to our troops. Our Army was never defeated in Vietnam. They were not driven out of Vietnam. They won their battles. The fault lay not in their performance, but in their civilian leaders in Washington. They were given an unattainable goal. "Success" in Vietnam could only be achieved if we could leave behind a Vietnamese government that could survive on its own -- a political goal. And even after the longest war in our history, it was unattainable. Lacking enough support by its people, the government in Saigon became more and more dependent on the United States -- further limiting its political support among a highly nationalistic Vietnamese people.
Lake was Clinton's National Security Adviser, and served in Vietnam with the State Department.