2007-08-23

Iraq vs Vietnam

George Bush has compared Iraq to Vietnam.
President George W Bush has warned a US withdrawal from Iraq could trigger the kind of upheaval seen in South East Asia after US forces quit Vietnam.

"The price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens," he told war veterans in Missouri.

Mr Bush said the Vietnam War had taught the need for US patience over Iraq.
First of all, let me make the point that Bush was speaking at the annual convention for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group, which is made up, these days, of Vietnam veterans. Therefore his invocation of Vietnam isn't as surprising as some may say.

Bush appears to support an historical view which said that America could have won in Vietnam had it the testicular fortitude to do it. Bush said that millions died as a result of America's pull-out. I don't think this is necessarily a good argument for a number of reasons:
  1. Given the high casualty rate of Iraqi civilians since 2003 (over 655,000 dead) it seems reasonable to assume that, given the higher level of ferocity of the fighting, Vietnam had a higher civilian casualty rate. Some figures put this at 5.1 million up until the end of the war. In other words, America killed more Vietnamese through their action than through the result of their withdrawal.

  2. One of the reasons why America was not able to win the Vietnam war was because of restrictions placed upon the US military. In practice, this meant that they were prevented from waging war in Cambodia and prevented from invading the North. In a similar way, America has failed to completely pacify Iraq because Bush essentially limited the amount of troops to a couple hundred thousand. If Bush wishes to win the war, he should, at the very least, quadruple American forces there.

  3. The lesson from Vietnam was that the "domino theory" was flawed. Communism did not spread throughout Asia as a result of Vietnam's fall to Communism. In the same way, if America withdraws from Iraq it will not result in a takeover of the region by the dreaded Islamofascists.



3 comments:

Reuben Kincaid said...

You wrote:
"The lesson from Vietnam was that the "domino theory" was flawed. Communism did not spread throughout Asia as a result of Vietnam's fall to Communism. In the same way, if America withdraws from Iraq it will not result in a takeover of the region by the dreaded Islamofascists."

So how do you know this won't happen.

One Salient Oversight said...

For starters, "Islamofascists" don't actually exist - they're a fictional construct made by American right-wingers.

Secondly, only one nation is run by Islamic Fundamentalism for some time and that is Iran. Iran has not threatened anyone since the revolution in 1979. There was a time when Shi'ites in Western Afghanistan were being persecuted by the (Fundamentalist) Taliban but Iran chose not to invade.

Thirdly, the real threat of terrorism - as promoted by Al-Qaeda - is actually quite small.

Fourthly, the Islamic world at the moment is bound to move towards a more conservative Islamic direction because they feel threatened by America.

mwalzman said...

: You bring up interesting points and I would like to add a comparison that seems to be left out a lot, which is the soldier’s reporting on the war. In Vietnam the G.I.’s were creating underground newspapers. Now in Iraq there are soldiers blogging about the war. There’s one aspect about war that will always remain and that is soldiers wanting to write about their experiences. I didn’t even really know about the whole G.I. movement, but I just saw this documentary on it called, Sir! No Sir! It’s pretty interesting. Here’s their site for more info