Summary: 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.