History Repeats Itself: Vietnam and Iraq

Today’s headlines forecast the imminent demise of the regime now ruling Iraq as the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria rolls across the country. The Iraqi military, upon which the US spent billions of dollars to train and equip, melts away. Bagdad is expected to fall imminently.

We’ve seen this before. It was in the spring of 1975 in Vietnam. The regime that the United States had created and sustained at such a high cost in American lives and finances collapsed not long after US troops withdrew. That’s not the end of the parallels. Our entrance to both wars was based on lies. In Vietnam, that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked a US naval ship in the Gulf of Tonkin – not true. In Iraq, that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction” – also not true. In both cases, US troops were committed in situations that deprived them of the edge they possessed in advanced weaponry and technology – In Vietnam, it was jungle fighting; in Iraq it was urban warfare. In both cases, the United States propped up corrupt regimes that not only failed to win the popular support of their people, but seemed not to even care about winning that support. Both faced committed enemies with great patience and unlimited endurance which allowed them to persevere until after US combat troops departed. Because our government’s rationale for fighting both wars was without merit and cloaked in deceit, the American people soon concluded that continuing the fight was not a vital strategic interest of our country and soon opposed the continued cost of involvement in American lives and money.

5 Responses to History Repeats Itself: Vietnam and Iraq

  1. Sarah Perry-Correia says:

    Many years ago when my 29 year old son was tiny I found myself sitting on a bench in the courtyard garden of Children’s Hospital Boston with a resident who told me he was Pakistani. Very pleasant so we sat there and chatted for a bit. Told me that Americans don’t understand how smaller countries are terrified of the US because we have the ability to attack them whenever we feel inclined. To them it does look this way even if we think these things are justified . For this reason they don’t trust us. That and we go in and make messes leaving them for others to clean up.

  2. Joe S. says:

    John McCain is saying we should never have pulled troops from Iraq, but misses the far greater error of going in there in the first place, something he supported. The many service lives lost, $1T is wasteful spending, and the burdens put on veterans and their health care system all trace back to this monumental error.

  3. Miriam Morgenstern says:

    I’m worried that the situation in Iraq more closely resembles Cambodia and and the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Let’s hope that I’m wrong.

  4. Gordon Pickguard says:

    John McCain should go away. He has become an embarrassment to himself and the U.S. However before he goes someone should ask him if we should have stayed in Vietnam and for how long.