Holbrooke: Iraq worse than Vietnam

In all seriousness LK, what’s your opinion of this comparison? I mean, your post seems to indicate a lean towards a “Yes” vote, but I’d seriously like to know what you think.

I’m guessing you mean the comparison of Iraq to Vietnam, although I suppose I could be wrong. While there certainly are a large number of historical and political differences that people seeking similarities for rhetorical purposes often ignore, there is the tactical and strategic aspect of the Vietnam war that is really of interest. Since that is the only large scale counterinsurgency that the United States has ever waged, it is in that context a “Yes”(?) for Vietnam parallels, so long as you restrict your analogy to what can most simply be described as Al Anbar + Baghdad. Iraq is in fact three separate countries under one arbitrarily created government (I use “under” in only the most basic sense), and the comparison only really applies to one of those countries.

When we start assassinating our own anointees, that’s when the party’s really getting good.

Now, when political and historical issues are brought into play, the differences between Vietnam and Iraq are staggering. The many changes in the military and technology since then make this such an insanely low impact war on American polity it is almost a reversion to Roman times in terms of the material impact on the “imperial” nation of ongoing war. I’ve never heard of anything like this…hell, even Australians seem more affected by their peacekeeping missions to southeast Asia than the American public. It’s like an optional part of the news. Honestly, when I return from predeployment training in the miserable armpit of the Mojave to seminormal life for a while, I am impressed by how my reality feels only like a bad dream to me, let alone to people not directly involved with it. It’s almost surreal.

Bullshit sidenote: I always thought Enemy At The Gates style sniper shenanigans were apocryphal at best. It seems the playground in modern Iraq has made such a thing grimly prophetic. It leaves those of us in the infantry in an awkward position, but I really can’t wait to check it out in person again.

PPS: I can’t believe Newsweek tried to draw a parallel between General Mattis’ comments back in the day about it being “fun” to shoot human waste to the Hadithah incident. Freud would eat his hat.

Oh, and if you meant the original question, I really don’t know, and it is absolutely dependent on the parameters you use for your question. As Holbrooke puts a large part of it, it makes Iraq worse simply because it is a more valuable and risky region to lose in, and I think that is commensurate to the reward for succeeding and not so much of a great basis. I think Vietnam was much more of a waste, that’s for sure.

If it makes you feel better (BTW thanks for the replies), yes I meant the original thread topic, as opposed to…I have no idea.

Really? The entire Pol Pot period in Cambodia and what happened there after we left the region is far worse than anything I can imagine happening in Iraq after we leave. And there was a reason that Vietnam stabilized pretty quickly after we left. I worked in Texas with some Vietnamese women who escaped before the North totally rolled in, but their husbands didn’t.

Not to mention that the Vietnam War(s) lasted alot longer than 3 years. Assuming we leave Iraq sometime soon, there’s at least a decade of time for things to “stabilize” and still come out ahead of the Vietnam War. Iraq seems worst mostly because it’s happening right now – if you want a real comparison you’ve got to ask those who were adults during both, as opposed to this mostly under 40 crowd.

Nothing like pissing in the face of a Vietnam vet by calling Iraq WORSE than Vietnam.

That’s hyperbole. There’s probably a lot of things like pissing in the face of a veteran.

Well, I’m assuming Holbrooke is speaking primarily from a US point of view, and looking at the consequences for the US and the rest of the world in economic and poltical terms. In terms of lives lost and human suffering, the Vietnam war was clearly worse than the conflict in Iraq. That doesn’t seem to be what Holbrooke is focusing on, however.

Iraq is in a more critical region, though. It’s more unstable, and it’s vastly more economically important than Vietnam.

As one of those who is in the over 40 group and who remembers Vietnam vividly, particularly the 67 - 70s years, they don’t feel very similar. One reason is the length of time we were in Vietnam.

The draft is another. The number of casualties. Fighting against a fully organized North Vietnamese military, with their own Air Force, military structure, etc. It was much more clearly one nations military power against another’s.

Just a feeling, that is no doubt shaped by the media coverage: the Vietnam years felt much more like a full scale war compared to Iraq. Every single night you saw reporters in flak jackets and helmets in with soldiers in the middle of full scale firefights and battles, jets going in on close assault missions or going after SAM sites, and blood and guts all over the TV screen. Even if you were a gung ho kid, it was scary as hell - this was probably the first war that showed the graphic impact of war on soldiers on the nightly news. Every night you saw soldiers with major wounds being bandaged up and being carried out of the battle by their buddies or medics. You saw the pure fear in the eyes of the draftee soldiers. There were only 3 real channels so everyone watched the evening network news every night, with the nightly reports from the field and the nightly body counts. Stories (in my recollection) were given more time on the newscasts.

What feels similar: every community hearing a kid from their area was killed in the war. Just a lot more of it during Vietnam.

Another similarity is the undermining of the soldiers and the war effort by denizens of boards such as this one. Yeah, we didn’t have the internet back then, but we had the similar using of whatever media was available. Vietnam was lost in the media, and the Iraq war is in danger of the same thing.

And yet the very naysayers would be silenced in a heartbeat if the Islamofacsists win this war, what irony.

Nice try lumping the soldiers in with the war effort. And by nice, I mean fuck off.

Also, analysis and criticism does not equal undermining, you parrot.

Hah! Clueless as always CindySue. Funny thing about the Vietnam War, most of the impetus against it came from ex soldiers – civilians did narry a thing for a long time, not until well after the current length of the current war. The “undermining” you talk of mostly consisted of disgruntled vets, and news programs that merely showed some of what was actually happening.

Furthermore, the US didn’t lose because of the peace effort, the US lost because North Vietnam kicked it’s ass – although war nuts such as yourself always manage to find some excuse somewhere. In the end, it’s hard to occupy a country where the locals hate you, and it’s hard to keep them from hating you when you keep murdering them. To date the peace effort, although starting much more quickly than the corresponding effort for the Vietnam War, has had zero impact. People in the US are becoming increasingly disgruntled with Bush largely because he’s inept and among other things clearly cannot win this war, not vice versa.

Oh, and:

First, they’re not fascists. Second, the US has already lost the war, according to (optimistic) popular US opinion. Third, this hasn’t silenced any of the naysayers, but in fact swelled our ranks. It’s becoming increasingly clear to a majority of people everywhere that the US fucked up.

Vietnam was lost by the politicians, not the media.

What do you expect? For the population to remain in favor of a war indefinitely no matter how bad things appear to be going?

Nothing like pissing in the face of soldiers serving overseas right now by saying Iraq is trivial compared to Vietnam.

Nothing like posting wild-eyed one-liners in every fucking thread in P&R.

I don’t know what your definition of asskicking is, because it’s certainly not anyone else’s. The NVA and VC most certainly did not kick anyone’s ass; in point of fact, they were slaughtered in absurd numbers in almost every engagement. What defeated the US was its own (lack of) strategy, an incompetent higher command hiding from battlefield realities, and the very nature of asymmetrical guerrilla warfare in a semicolonial situation: they don’t have to win, they just have to hang in there for you to lose in the long run.

In the end, it’s hard to occupy a country where the locals hate you, and it’s hard to keep them from hating you when you keep murdering them.

Yeah, that’s not a ridiculous oversimplification of Vietnamese attitudes across a war that lasted years.

First, they’re not fascists.

Advocates of islamic theocracies can somewhat accurately be considered fascists…sort of like what Lenin did for communism, the ayatollahs have done for fascism: adapt it to their realities. Most of the opposition to US forces in Iraq, however. has little to do with such a coherent gameplan.

Second, the US has already lost the war, according to (optimistic) popular US opinion. Third, this hasn’t silenced any of the naysayers, but in fact swelled our ranks. It’s becoming increasingly clear to a majority of people everywhere that the US fucked up.

The more people repeat it, the truer it becomes, right? I bet you would have
“kicked the shit” out Copernicus back in the day.

Our position in Iraq may be better compared to the French position in Viet Nam during the First Indochina War ten years before US military involvement.

Which still sucked hard, BTW.

Stab in the back! Stab in the back!

I’ve heard that a lot as well, and it is certainly more accurate, but can you really see a Dien Bien Phu arising in Iraq?

The problem the US had with both Iraq and Vietnam is simply the fact that a democracy cannot engage in wars of conquest. A democracy can engage successfully in a war of liberation or defense only. The US could win the war in Iraq easily if they dropped 750,000 troops in Iraq and killed or incarcerated most of the men. Doing things like wiping out the entire village of a suicide bomber and firebombing cities of neighboring countries where foreign fighters came from are necessary in a war of conquest, you have to crush their spirit to persecute a war. But a democracy cannot do that, which really points out what a waste our huge armed forces truly are.