Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is not Vietnam. Iraq is not... oh, wait, never mind.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For years now, President Bush has refused to acknowledge the parallels between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam war. This week, he modified that stance ever so slightly, by telling us that it is exactly like Vietnam.

Now personally, I have never agreed that Iraq is "another Vietnam." After all, Vietnam was primarily a military struggle. The United States fought the armed forces of a foreign nation for the better part of a decade. In Iraq, the United States fought the Iraqi army for the better part of two weeks (hence the "Mission Accomplished").

If I had to compare Iraq to anything (and Smitty I'm hoping you can either back me up or tell me to shut my trap), it reminds me of Somalia. First, because of the scenic desert vistas and mild climate. And second, because the United States is not a part of the primary struggle, but rather we are in the middle of an internal conflict. If we were to leave, the Iraqis wouldn't care about kiling Americans; they'll preoccupied with the Sunni/Shia/Kurdish power struggle. In Vietnam, there was at least a realistic potential that Communism could end up spreading to our shores; I don't see Iraqiism taking root in central America any time soon.

And like Somalia, when we leave, it won't be America that suffer the most. It will be the Iraqis. Somalis celebrated when they "chased" the Americans away, but it plunged their country further into chaos. And I feel like many Iraqis will celebrate their 'liberty' from the Americans when we leave, but it may indeed prove Pyrric. Unless, of course, they think that democracy is overrated (which is a concept that, as a government employee, I often ponder myself...). I'm curious what everyone thinks.

But hey, who could have predicted this? Oh, wait, never mind...


steves 2:37 PM  

I tend to believe that there are some similarities to Vietnam, in that it is not enough that we control the basic mechanisms of government. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we (or our allies) controlled the gov't, but there were still large elements of the people that did not follow us. The other similarity that seems to be coming true is the resolve of the other side. From what I have heard, the NVA was willing to fight for as long as it took. Conservative estimates predicted that we could have won the Vietnam War some time in the mid-1980's and there clearly was not the support for that long of a conflict. I see the same in Iraq.

OTOH, I think that a larger portion of the Vietnamese people wanted us there as opposed that the Iraqis. I feel genuinely bad for what happened in that country when we left. I don't know if the Iraqis want democracy as much.

B Mac 9:01 AM  

I heard someone make an interesting point a while back (I forget who it was); it isn't that the Iraqis don't want peace, stability, and democracy. The problem is that they want something else MORE than peace. Maybe it's power, maybe it's retribution for years of being booted in the ass by their neighbors, or revenge against the loss of a family member.

Of course most Iraqis want the rule of law. But they, like anyone, probably WANT a lot of things; free ice cream, an evening with Hayden Panettiere (google it if you don't know who she is... yowza), the latest Girls Gone Wild DVD...

But those are secondary to a deeper desire to whomp people.

steves 9:08 AM  

I think that is an accurate assessment. BTW, Hayden was at Gen Con, promoting some kids game.

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