Blogs > Cliopatria > "History's Rhyme"

Jun 15, 2005 8:09 pm

"History's Rhyme"

A conservative blogger offers "fifteen similarities between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq." If we accept his premise, the next question would be to ask what we do with the comparison. Does historical understanding lead, at least in the case of the war in Iraq, to some sort of useful policy prescription?

Note also the invitation, at the end of the post, for commenters to offer their own lists of significant differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam. A few commenters have taken a shot, and their comments are worth reading. But why is there always that one anonymous jackass who thinks it's worth the time to post the half-literate"you're argument is to stoopid for me to argue against, but your wrong" comment?

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Louis N Proyect - 6/16/2005

I was actually interviewed by the Irish BBC about a year and a half ago on the similarities. After doing the interview, I discussed the differences on the listserv I moderate. These included:

1. State of economy: during Vietnam, you had wartime prosperity. Since the economy is weak today, workers are less inclined to cut the administration slack.

2. Absence of the USSR from the world scene: This means that the USA can adopt a more aggressive posture. If the USSR had not gone capitalist, it is likely that the invasion of Iraq would never have taken place since Iraq shared borders with the Soviet Union. If it had, it would have had to face a government that received considerable material support from the USSR.

3. Weakness of the radical movement: In the 1960s, the antiwar movement was led by the Trotskyist SWP which had a knack for uniting broader forces despite its sectarian make-up. Today, there is no such equivalent group. The WWP, which is an ally of Ramsey Clark, is ultraleft and divisive. The CPUSA, which spearheads the UfPJ coalition, is actually ambivalent on the occupation. It has pushed the UfPJ into sponsoring a tour of Iraqi trade unionists from the IFTU, which has given critical support to the occupation.

4. Quiescence in the black community: In the 1960s, people like Mohammed Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. were outspoken opponents of the war. Today, it is left to the rather dubious figure of Al Sharpton to express antiwar views on behalf of the black community.

5. The absence of a draft: Of course, this might change in months to come. If it does, batten down the hatches.