Perhaps it’s because so many left-wingers view the war protests in the sixties as the “glory days” of the liberal movement or because like Ted Rall, they believe that…
“Losing to Third Worlders in PJs led Americans to decades of relative humility, self-examination and taking the moral high ground in conflicts such as Haiti and Kosovo.”
…but the left in this country is fixated on Vietnam.
Remember the Gulf War? I was in college back then and I had a liberal professor who told us to prepare for 100,000 casualties and a draft. Know why? Because that’s what war was like. Remember Vietnam!
But we don’t even have to go back that far; remember when Afghanistan was the next Vietnam? Hostilities started on October 7, 2001 and before a month was out there were liberals in the media who believed we were stuck in a quagmire. Take a look at this quote and you’ll see what I mean:
“Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable.” – R.W. Apple, New York Times, Oct 31, 2001
Anyone STILL think Afghanistan is another Vietnam? Anyone?
Furthermore, we should not forget that Iraq is now in its 2nd “Quagmire Stage”. There were initially left-wingers in the media claiming we were bogged down in “another Vietnam” while we were fighting our three-week-long battle against Saddam’s troops. Just look at these quotes while keeping in mind that hostilities commenced on March 19, 2003:
“During the Vietnam War, there was a morose song that claimed that Lyndon Johnson had mired the United States in the ”Big Muddy,” a dark swamp from which there was no escape. Because the U.S. military never seems to learn from its mistakes, it would appear that we are once again deep in the Big Muddy.” – Andrew Greeley on April 4, 2003.
“Already officers in the Gulf are comparing Rumsfeld to Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense and architect of Vietnam who sent his soldiers into battle when he knew nothing of the Vietnamese.
In past weeks I have been worrying about going to war in Iraq too soon without sufficient international support and worrying about the really dangerous postwar plans of the radical neo-conservatives who seem to be so influential in this administration. But I confess I never worried about the competence of Rumsfeld and Co. to run a war. I do now.” – H.D.S. Greenway in an editorial called, “Vietnam’s lessons forgotten in Iraq” on April 4, 2003.
“(T)he fact of the matter is that the United States has got itself in a terrible bind here without regional allies’ and suggested that ‘without UN legitimacy — forget it, never work, Vietnam quagmire next stop.” – Arthur Kent on April 5, 2003
All the Vietnam talk cooled for a while after the statue was pulled down in Firdos Square, but once the insurgency got cranked up, it came back with a vengeance.
But, how alike are Iraq and Vietnam really?
In Vietnam, the country was split into two halves and North Vietnam had a large & experienced army with popular support in the North. Eventually, North Vietnam was able to conquer the South after Democrats in Congress cut off supplies and air support to our former allies and left them to be slaughtered. Compare that to Iraq where our enemies are terrorists and gangsters who hold no territory, are wildly unpopular, and who have absolutely no hope of conquering the country militarily.
Furthermore, Vietnam was called a “quagmire” with good reason. After Lyndon Johnson ramped up the number of troops we had there, we fought for 10 years and more than 58,000 of our troops lost their lives. On the other hand, in Iraq, we’ve lost less than 1500 American soldiers so far in a country we invaded less than 2 years ago. Were we to continue on at the same pace in Iraq, it would take more than 70 years to match the numbers from Vietnam. However, given the wildly successful elections last month in Iraq and the growing numbers of trained Iraqi Security Forces (125,000 are ready to go and their numbers will eventually reach 271,000), it’s likely that we’re going to see American casualty rates start to drop significantly in the coming months as the Iraqis become capable of handling their own internal security.
What it all comes down to is that you can always find vague points of comparison between wars, whether it’s Iraq and Vietnam or the War of 1812 and WW2. That being said, what’s happening in Iraq today is a fundamentally different conflict from Vietnam and quite frankly, that should be rather obvious to anyone other than liberals who insist that practically every war we fight is “another Vietnam.”