Iraq and Vietnam - parallels or not?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Alsacien, Aug 23, 2007.

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  1. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Mr Bush compared current calls for withdrawal from Iraq with what happened at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

    "Many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people," Mr Bush said. "The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.

    Mr Bush spoke of the massacres under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge
    "Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left."

    The potential consequences of a pull out are easy to speculate - but are they comparable to Vietnam?
  2. Americans are very good at starting wars but not finishing them.
  3. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Seems the Iraqis may feel future security depends on strong relationships with its neighbours in Syria and Iran - which probably does not go down well in Washington:

    "There are to be increased economic ties between the two countries, and Iraqi officials have agreed to help contribute the cost of accommodating 1.4 million Iraqi refugees in Syria."

    Iraqs neighbours: What's at stake?

    More (and stronger) players then SE Asia in the 70's, and more internal fractures...
  4. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    Some interesting recent spin from mainly right wing US conmentators over this comparison recently. They didnt lose the war. They lost the battle of Vietnam but won the war against communism. When the USSR and Soviet bloc communist Governments imploded. Clever.

    They conveniently ignore China, now their big trading buddy and last time I looked, a little bit communist?

    By extension, they can lose the battle of Iraq but claim to be winning the war on terrorism. A nice try, but it wont wash.

    This one has been debated elsewhere on ARRSE so I'll confine myself to observing that those who dont learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
  5. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Iraq is predominately Shia, so it follows that they will engender closer relationships with countries like Iran - and yes, the sceptics don't want that (I'm not sure who does).

    The main reason why Saddam (A sunni) stayed in control of Iraq for so long was because of western (namely US) support for his regime as they did not want to see the huge oil reserves of the two countries being controlled by one ideology.

    Saddam was allowed to kill millions of Shias BECAUSE of Western support of his regime.

    The US lost control of Iran when Ayatolla Khomeini (hard-line fundamentalist) got rid of the Shah. As the septic nose was WELL out of joint over that one, they sponsored Saddam while he set himself against all things Shia, including not only Iran, but the indigenous Shias in Iraq.

    The whole thing has been down to US policies in the ME since before the Shah was deposed.

    This current Iraq farce is just another chapter in a lousy, ill-though, screwed-up US ME foreign policy exercise over the last 40 years, and some of the septic generals and politicos are having a pop at the UK for getting out of this one?!?!?!?

    Re-run of Vietnam? You betcha, but with a much longer, sorrier history behind it, and perhaps more pointless deaths.

    Edited to add: Mind you, the oil-rich power-brokers in the good old US of A aren't doing to badly out of the price of a barrel of oil though are they? Reason enough to keep this little hot potato bouncing around for a while longer yet (though a good deal more difficult to justify to the masses if us Brits says "sod this for a lark!".
  6. If I remember correctly George did not go to Vietnam he went to the National Guard flying school instead, so how would he know what is and is not comparable to Vietnam.

    Thats like me saying sorry for the slave trade in the 18th Century.

    Ok, thats a bit crass but how would he know anything after all a pretzel nearly killed him.
  7. Other than the War of Independence and the Iraq debacle it's difficult to find a war the Americans started. They may be guilty of getting drawn into wars but they're no different to us on that score. The usual complaint is that the Americans are the last to join as in WW1 and WW2. I fail to see why because of the actions od Bush and Blair the Americans have all of a sudden become the baddies.
  8. vietnam,

    military won the battles, The war (and its strategic aims in the country) lost due to political mismanagement.


    Battles are being won, but political mismanagement is again endangering the strategic aims.

  9. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Seems the US politians are saying similar:

    "Former presidential adviser David Gergen said Bush ran the risk of doing as much harm as good for his case.

    "By invoking Vietnam he raised the question, 'if you learned so much from history, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?' " Gergen said."

    "A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans -- 64 percent -- now oppose the Iraq war, and 72 percent say the Petraeus report will have no effect on their opinion.
    The poll also found a great deal of skepticism about the report; 53 percent said they do not trust Petraeus to give an accurate assessment of the situation in Iraq."
  10. Hard to judge I'll let you know when I see UH 60's lifting off the embassy roof.
  11. Didnt giap or one of the vietnam head shed quote something when told they had never won a big battle against the Americans "And how relevant were they"
  12. There is a phrase I heard some years ago which sums up the americans problem entirely.

    "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

  13. Definite Parallels exist, but there are obvious differences.
    Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. He was ignored in the Early stages of the war by neocons for his unwanted revelations that we needed better COIN procedures, and now everyone else is ignoring him. Fanfcukingtastic. It's amazing really
  14. Agree with chief_joseph on that one
  15. You could argue the Yanks didn't lose in Vietnam at all. Not in the usual VDH way that all would have been well but or the faggot Dems caving into the Commies of course.

    Like Korea the war was largely about containing China which had disastrously slipped out of DC's grasp after WWII and for a decade into the victorious Kremlin's orbit.

    Like Iraq Vietnam was a very poor choice of theater that DC was drawn ever deeper into over a timespan of decades. As in Iraq DC demonstrated a willful ignorance of the realities on the ground: as is often the case it was blinded by moral clarity. Like Iraq DC implemented a muddled foreign policy where ideological goals conflicted with more worldly strategic interests. Like Iraq DC rapidly lost sight of the larger strategic picture and dithered tactically long after it was realized the course could not be stayed. Like Iraq the collapse of public will was largely caused by persistent executive dissembling. Like Iraq the idiots who rolled the dice would not be in office to carry the blame, that will largely fall on other shoulders.

    Vietnam was a deeply mistaken undertaking as there was no real danger of the Chinese dominating the bolshie rather effective Vietnamese. If DC had been a little smarter it would have seduced Uncle Ho after or even before the French defeat. However it ended by Nixon taking off the ideological blinkers facing up to effective military defeat and embracing Beijing which in fact was radical strategic advance in DCs Cold War policy. The war was a great loss of blood and treasure but it did not have the crippling impact that the Afghan War had on the USSR. In the long term all that was truly harmed was DC's vanity.

    In the aftermath of the American retreat their Vietnamese allies did suffer severely. They fled and a great many faced stern re-educations that proved fatal. But the real genocidal price was paid in Cambodia which was destabilized by the war. DC was not entirely without blame in this as it had cultivated the Khmer Rouge and area bombed the country extensively. This is overplayed by some. Vietnam's civil war with a strong ethno-religious component was only extended by DC's involvement and naturally tended to destabilize the neighbors. Civil wars do that. The killing fields were not even recognized by DC as genocide at the time. The Khmer Rouge was only brought down when the Vietnamese intervened.

    There is a lesson to be taken from Vietnam but it is not the one that Bush is preaching. The relatively painless US extraction from Vietnam is a poor parallel to bring up at this moment. The strategic costs of Bush's great blunder will be far more severe than JFK's Asian adventure. Austria's invasion of Serbia in 1914 might be a better parallel, if DC remains asleep at the wheel it could be that bad.