Despite crucial differences in geography, climate, history, culture, ethnicity, religion, politics, and international context; there remain disturbing parallels between the United States’ interventions in Vietnam and in Iraq. Some of these parallels are listed below.
1. Both wars seen as noble causes and each justified as part of a much broader war
2. Misleading statements about the reasons for intervention
3. Understatement of costs and avoidance of budgetary transparency
4. Indigenous opposition views U.S. intervention as a legacy of their colonial past
5. Initial U.S. lack of appreciation of the effectiveness and tenacity of the enemy.
6. Initial U.S. misperception of the nature of the war: counterinsurgency
7. Once U.S. troops are committed, U.S. international credibility said to be at stake
8. Official U.S. optimism about the outcome despite deteriorating situation on the ground
9. Lack of a sufficiently legitimate indigenous government
10. Lack of credible indigenous military capacity
11. Broad international condemnation of U.S. actions
Most important difference:
The Vietnamese just wanted the U.S. to leave.
Radical Muslims want to use Iraq to fuel and legitimate a holy war against the U.S.