Q&A Friday #4: Iraq Vs. Vietnam

Q: “Your answer reminds me of the answers I heard to questions asked about Viet Nam 35 years ago. Stay the course, hang tough, get the job done, and, of course, “the light at the end of the tunnel”. I don’t like to draw historical comparisons because they’re facile and often wrong but I foresee a long, inconclusive, struggle in Iraq with the media and its Left allies constantly sniping at the Administration (either Bush or Kerry) while the toll of dead Americans increases, the dollar cost of the war soars and the economy sours.” — manhattan_transfer

A: We have an obsession with Vietnam in this country. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t all that long ago or because it had such a profound effect on the thinking of the Democratic establishment.

But, I gotta tell you, Iraq really doesn’t have all that much in common with Vietnam.

Yes, you can say that “Stay the course, hang tough, get the job done, and, of course, “the light at the end of the tunnel” reminds you of Vietnam, but that also could be applied to the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WW1, WW2, Korea, etc.

I’m not saying that there are no parallels at all, but we just invaded Iraq in March of 2003 and we’ve lost less than a 1000 men. On the other hand, we were in Vietnam for more than a decade (although to be fair we didn’t start to really ramp up our troops until Johnson took over) and we lost more than 50,000 soldiers in that conflict.

In Vietnam, we had a civil war and we were fighting an enemy army. In this case, there has been no civil war, we’re fighting a few ragtag militias and terrorists. Moreover, polls show the majority of Iraqi people want a Democracy, there are Democratic elections scheduled for the beginning next year, and the Iraqi military is getting better and larger every day.

So unlike in Vietnam, in Iraq, time is on our side. We’re not trying to bring anybody to the negotiating table or just hoping against hope that we can outlast our enemies while politicians make it impossible for our soldiers to win the war. In 6-18 months, we’re going to have a Democratic government in Iraq that is completely capable of handling its own security without our help. Once we’re to that point, the war’s over and we can chalk another one up for the good guys.

One last thing: Every war isn’t going to be the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, or the war in Kosovo, where we cruise in, crush the enemy like ants with minimal soldiers KIA, and then leave. It would be nice if it were always that easy, but it didn’t turn out to be this time. Of course, 9/11 wasn’t “easy” either. And if we’re going to stop those sort of massive terrorist attacks on our own soil, then we have to put not only Al-Qaeda, but every terrorist group with global reach, and the rogue states that support them, out of business. That’s why Saddam had to go…

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