September 3, 2006
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         Are Vietnam and Iraq Similar?
         A September 02, 2006 Viewpoint
Residents look for their belongings in damaged residential building, following rocket attacks on Thursday evening, in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday Sept.1, 2006. A barrage of coordinated bomb and rocket attacks on Aug. 31, 2006, across eastern Baghdad neighborhoods killed at least 55 people and wounded more than 200 within about half an hour, police said Friday.The attacks on mainly Shiite neighborhoods came even as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraqi forces should have control over most of the country by year's end. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Just yesterday, a pentagon report indicated the situation in iraq has deteriorated.

The report said "Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," ...the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable." "Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months."

"VIETNAM, Bremer exclaimed. "I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT VIETNAM. THIS IS NOT VIETNAM. THIS IS IRAQ!" OK, this is Iraq! But, despite Bremer's proclamation, is Vietnam, Iraq? I think, in some ways, yes.

Surely words like quagmire, hearts and minds, body counts, and Vietnamization(Part of The Nixon doctrine aimed at building up the South Vietnamese army so they could fight on their own) are reminders of Nam and what we are facing today in Iraq. Vietnam has definitely crept into the language of our present war. It was Vietnamization and now Iraqization(We are trying to build up the Iraqi army to take over, and progress is shakey at best). The best term for the situation we are in now, I think, is Iraqnam.

A rickshaw driver and his passenger ride in the rain in the central Vietnamese city of Hue. The death toll from floods and landslides in Vietnam has climbed to at least 26 with several children among the victims.(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
There are so many enormous similarities to Iraq and Vietnam. The possibility of South Vietnam ever truly succeeding as a nation unless Americans remained there forever or for years was not very realistic; it was way too corrupt and fractured at the time. I, for one, don't know what would have happened had we stayed.

Leaving surely doesn't seem to have hurt the Vietnamese over the long haul based on where we are with Vietnam now. They are a communist country that acts like a capitalist one. American Vietnamese regularly go back with ease. We have a trading agreement. They act like the American war never existed. So, maybe the old "cut and run" is a euphemism that surely doesn't apply to Vietnam.

In Iraq we are fighting fanatics, tribal rivalries, and armies that most don't even know who controls. The American military is beefing up to try to do something about the civil war in Baghdad. I don't' think so. The militias are mainly Shiites, we think; the Mahdi Army(created by Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) is a death squad to a large degree. The insurgents are Sunni, and Iraqi civilians are dying by the scores from various lethal enemy activity.

Exiting out of Iraq may be easier than we think. When we saw Vietnamese clinging to those helicopters fleeing Saigon, many of us were deeply wounded. As it turns out, the long arm of history was fairly kind to us.

A recent article Revisionist History:The Vietnam War on the website makes the case that Vietnam and Iraq, however, have one very important difference, Vietnam was no civil war. Iraq is now close to civil war. Our soldiers in Iraq are fighting a group of fanatics who place no value on life, not only killing our soldiers, but killing members of their own community just because they are a member of a slightly different religious sect and most of the time willingly killing themselves in the process.

Mike Wallace, in a Sixty minutes interview said to the President of Iran, "You have a special unit of martyr seekers in your revolutionary guard. They claim they have 52,000 trained suicide bombers ready to attack American and British targets if America should attack Iran." He didn't directly respond. Does this tell us something about Iraq?

Right now, I'm thinking since the situation in Iraq has deteroriated and the potential for all out civil war is increasing, our getting out is not a bad idea. kt




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