Sunday, April 09, 2006

Iraq: Another Vietnam?

Updated 11 Apr 06 0552 GMT

Almost from the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, anti-American protesters have claimed that the war in Iraq is just another Vietnam. In every way, the Vietnam experience is unlike Iraq—except for one. Click below to find out which one.

Probably even before the Thunder Run into Baghdad by the United States military in March-April of 2003, anti-American protesters were screaming that Iraq was just going to be another Vietnam. The word “quagmire”, which came into vogue during that time, is often used today by those same war protesters—only now they’re all grown up and have strong presence in the political and academic arenas.

Is Iraq like Vietnam? In every way except for one, it is a stretch of the imagination to say that Iraq and Vietnam are similar. The one area in which the similarities are striking is that the same group of people that hoped for failure in Vietnam is hoping that America loses again in Iraq.

A sampling of the differences:
  1. Media coverage has been much more positive during Operation Iraqi Freedom than it was during Vie…wait, what was I thinking? Sorry, skip that one.
  2. In Iraq casualty rates are lower. In the 8 (previously I said 10) or so years of the Vietnam war, about 59,000 soldiers (previously I said 50,000) were killed in action (KIA). In 3 years in Iraq, around 1,850 KIAs (previously I said 2,300) have occurred. (I had previously compared Vietnam KIAs with total OIF deaths -- My appreciation to Lt. Jarred A. Fishman for this clarification).
  3. Support from the local populace in Iraq is immensely stronger for Operation Iraqi Freedom than support ever was from the Vietnamese. Waves upon waves of North Vietnamese felt so strongly about their cause that they willingly gave up their lives in defense of their country and their ideals. In Iraq by contrast, millions see the light of hope and freedom for the first time in their lives, and they hope that America will stay the course until Iraqis are able to support themselves.
  4. Support for North Vietnam came from a superpower, while the main support for Iraq comes from the rogue regime of Iran. The Viet Cong had a steady supply of weapons and expert consulting from the Communists, while the level of support provided by Iran is not as significant.
  5. Because of significantly larger quantities of personnel (and because they felt more strongly about their cause than the Arab terrorists do) Viet Cong engaged American troops face to face on a much more regular basis than occurs in Iraq.
Ironically, the anti-war protest, against a sitting Democrat administration for the most part, and so strong up until 1971, virtually dried up when President Richard Nixon rescinded the military draft, indicating that the protest at that time was more about the fact that these young protesters might actually be required to serve in Vietnam. Now, many of those same individuals, ensconced in media, government, and academia, are still protesting the war. They can’t be drafted this time, so this time the protest is about something else. What is it? I have a good idea, but you tell me.


Lieutenant Fishman said...

A few corrections:
1. The Vietnam war led to American deaths totalling 59,300- not 50,000.

2. American military involvement was 8 years rather than 10- 1965 to 1973. There had not been large scale casualties when we only had trainers in the South from 62-65.

Basically, it proves your point that KIA in only 8 years were 60 thousand, versus 1,850 KIA in 3 years in Iraq.

Darrell said...

There is however one aspect between Iraq and Vietnam that is nearly identical. The Terrorists, insurgents, or Islamic Fundamentalists however you want to refer to them, clearly learned the central lesson from our withdrawal from Vietnam. That lesson was that America can be defeated, not on the battlefield, but in the realm of propaganda.
We can still lose this war on Terror. We won’t loose it on the Battlefield however. Should we lose it will be on the editorial pages of our newspapers, and in the speeches given by our elected representatives who place the short term political gains of their party ahead our national security on their priority list.

Frank Staheli said...

Thanks, Darrell. You make an excellent point. I read your post that discusses this in greater detail, and I recommend it to everyone else. It is the post from February 6 on

Matt said...

Here's a few things the MSM never picked up on:

This last one I'd love to learn Arabic for the sole purpose of supporting the cause: