Bush's Vietnam

To the Editor

Comparisons between the failed Iraq invasion and Vietnam (Herbert, Bush's Vietnam, 9/17/04) may be tempting. But Iraq is not Vietnam, and the bungled operation is likely to have much more severe consequences. Vietnam damaged the US reputation in the world, made it hard to keep close ties even with allies, because US motives were murky. The Iraq invasion has demolished US alliances, in part because US motives for empire are utterly transparent. Vietnam damaged the US economy. Iraq threatens to ruin it. But the Iraqis have none of the military advantages the Vietnamese had (decades of resisting foreign invaders, supply lines for weapons and material, rational leadership motivating troops with an ideology that could be tested in life, and relatively safe areas for retreat or movement. With a non-existent military, no supply lines, mystical anti-egalitarian leaders, the Iraqis fought the vaunted US military to a standstill for 15 months. While this may be testament to knowledge of terrain, ability to build close personal relationships, and nationalism; the US loss of this large battle has surely been noticed by Chinese and Russian militarists, whose nations are just as desperate for the resources of the Iraqi region. And while every tin pot dictator has learned the lesson of the US invasion (get a nuke), it may be the US has hastened a much larger war.

Rich Gibson
Professor of Social Studies
San Diego State University


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