America's `Iraq syndrome'

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... For many analysts, analogies with the Vietnam War are useful; for others, they are anathema.

Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow in defence policy at the Council on Foreign Relations concedes there are similarities. But he cautions against taking them too far. Vietnam was "a people's war," he notes, a class-based insurgency against a ruling regime. Iraq, by comparison, is a "communal civil war," a battle in which sectarian factions are fighting for survival.

And there will not be a repeat of the Fall of Saigon in Baghdad, he says. There are no mechanized divisions advancing on the city.

But there will be an "Iraq Syndrome," he stresses — just as there was a "Vietnam Syndrome" that followed the Vietnam War, a cooling period during which Americans will be loath to endorse the kind of "forceful foreign policy" that leads to expensive and bloody military adventures.

Prof. John Mueller of Ohio State University agrees. He says the syndrome will take hold "big time." In fact, it's already taking hold.

"The attitude to North Korea has mellowed, even when they exploded a weapon," he notes. "As for Iran, the idea of (America) doing anything militarily seems to be declining."
At the Boston conference this year, the similarities between the Iraq and Vietnam wars — and the lessons from the latter — were on everyone's mind.

Many of the key historical figures attended: Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Walter Cronkite, Kennedy confidante Ted Sorenson, LBJ's former aide Jack Valenti and the war's most famous reporter, David Halberstam.

Halberstam, whose pinpoint-accurate dispatches from the front as a 28-year-old reporter for The New York Times infuriated the Kennedy White House, vigorously warned of what he called, "The Lying Machine."

"Washington had created — and it is something that we have to deal with any time we talk about Vietnam ... a great lying machine.

"And what is a lying machine?" said Halberstam, tall and muscular at 72. "A lying machine exists on a major issue when an administration has a policy that does not, for historic reasons, work out, but where the administration believes it is important to continue it — for a variety of domestic political reasons — and to pretend that it works. So it forces its employees at the top to be disingenuous and punishes those government employees who dare to tell the truth ...."
Critics of the Iraq war have long claimed the Bush administration has been nothing if not disingenuous and that the war itself was launched on a lie: that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

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DeWayne Edward Benson - 12/12/2006

I find similarities rather than differences between Iraq and Vietnam war's.
First, as in Vietnam, here also after it was found an unwinnable war was at work, so both realizations were made in both of these wars.
When it was discovered that many in South Vietnam were in sympathy and active with Ho Chi Minhs policies, to counteract this condition the Pheonix plan of asassination and extinction was begun.
Contrary to the popular view of US Media, who are almost constantly serving other purposes, today in Iraq I see the Defense Dept Salvadore Option more apt. To me after more than four-years of nation building, and the (only) results obvious being Halliburtons bulging pockets, my vote is that evil begets evil.
As for the suffering of US Servicemen, prolonged fighting and killing (or be killed) of civilians, can't expect but create anything but great and overwhelming distress.