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Thread: Vietnam and Iraq

  1. #1

    Default Vietnam and Iraq

    the comparisons (or denials of same) are made so frequently it's already a cliche.

    that i thought it might be interesting to actually see what peoples opinions about this contentious issue are.

    I don't think this is a party political issue, though i may of course be proved wrong here.

    what are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Scandinavian and loving it Member Lazul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    I dont see that many links between them.

    First of all, alot of those that opposed the war in vietnam also supported the people fighting back.
    In iraq, few of those that are opposed the war support the terrorists.
    I know alot of people, that are very critical towards the US but that by no means support the terrorits in Iraq and their methods.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    No comparison at all, except the fabric of incidents and proofs (WMD & link with AQ= Gulf of Tonkin incident).
    BUT, the Vietcong had the support from the North Vietnam, China (more or less) USSR and other Communist Countries.
    Their ideology was possible to understand and to federate people as separate than Buddhists, Nationalists and Communists.
    They had a clear objective, to kick the Americans (after the French), to reunify the country and to impose their Ideology.
    They play politic and media before military. The US didnít lost one major battle (they were closed in Khe San) but the image of the US Embassy occupied by the Vietcong, the fact the Vietcong always had the initiative to fight or to withdraw and the sterile search and destroy operations, the dropping from helicopters of Vietcong prisoners just made the political support in their favour.
    I donít think, except few mentally sick persons, will be in favour of AQ, world wide.
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    Member Member sharrukin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Vietnam wasn't 'Vietnam' at the time either. It is only in retrospect that we look back, and it becomes the 'Vietnam experience'. There are similarities in the American approach to the Iraqi war, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to deal with the unexpected. The lack of American preparation for the occupation is a case in point regarding the poor planning. War always presents unexpected challenges and the administration did a poor job in meeting such eventualities.

    We are currently facing the problem of finding exit strategies from Iraq, and this too has parallels in Vietnam. The two conflicts are different of course, but to say that they are not the same is to miss the point. Vietnam had some hard lessons to teach, and we will pay a heavy price if we choose to ignore them. There will never be two conflicts that are the same, but the lessons of one can be used to avoid costly mistakes in the next.

    Micromanagement of the war effort driven by an addiction to technology without understanding the overall need to secure war aims.

    Generals on the ground being second guessed by political decision makers higher up the chain of command. Pentagon desk jockeys calling the shots with the result that decision making is slowed down and opportunities are missed. The De-Baathification is a case in point;

    On April 19, 2003, ten days after the fall of Baghdad, an advance ďjump groupĒ of Americans commanded by retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner was flown into the city to manage the occupation of Iraq.

    Browning decided early on that in order to get things done he needed to work with members of the Baath Party.

    Not long after, Garner himself was fired, and President Bush named L. Paul Bremer III as the head of what became known as the Coalition Provisional Authority.

    On May 16, 2003, Bremer issued a sweeping ban of the Baath Party: all senior party members were barred from public life; lower-level members were also barred, but some could appeal. In effect, Bremer had fired the entire senior civil service. The origins of the decree have never been clarified, but Coalition officials I spoke to said they believed that Bremer was following orders from the White House. A week later, he disbanded the Iraqi Army.

    Browning recalled a meeting that he and other officials had with Bremer before the announcement. ďBremer walked in and announced his de-Baathification order. I said that we had established a good working relationship with techniciansónot senior-level peopleóof the Baath Party, and I expressed my feeling that this measure could backfire. Bremer said that it was not open for discussion, that this was what was going to be done and his expectation was that we would carry it out.

    An American special-forces officer stationed in Baghdad at the time told me that he was stunned by Bremerís twin decrees. After the dissolution of the Army, he said, ďI had my guys coming up to me and saying, ĎDoes Bremer realize that there are four hundred thousand of these guys out there and they all have guns?í They all have to feed their families.Ē He went on, ďThe problem with the blanket ban is that you get rid of the infrastructure; I mean, after all, these guys ran the country, and you polarize them. So did these decisions contribute to the insurgency? Unequivocally, yes. And we have to ask ourselves: How well did we really know how to run Iraq? Zero.Ē


    The American military during the Vietnam War was superb tactically in the field but their operational understanding of the war was poor.

    This is one reason that men such as Clinton and Bush, lacking military experience can be so dangerous as they do not understand the military or war. They can replace this experience with the wisdom to trust those who have such expertise. President Reagan knew to trust the right men, while Clinton and Bush failed on this account. Lacking both they become dangerous fools.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    The comparison is nothing but a cheap political tool used by some leftists in this country and abroad to evoke painful memories and an emotional response. However, when you start to look at the facts, the comparison falls apart.

  6. #6
    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Post Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Well, we can no longer ask Gen. Westmoreland for his opinion on this subject. It would have been interesting to hear his take on the current situation.

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    Alienated Senior Member Member Red Harvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    There are some comparisons, but it is too early to tell. It really depends on whether the local govt. can get up and running and obtain majority legitimacy among Iraqi's. If it fails to gain that legitimacy, then yes, the situation would be similar to Vietnam.

    Casualty wise there are some similarities: Looking at the 1961-1965 period, Vietnam KIA were 1,864 and WIA were 7,337. Iraq so far has had 1,352 KIA and 13,438 WIA. So if going by time period alone, American casualties don't compare favorably to Vietnam. However, the casualties in Vietnam were highest from 1966 to 1969. Seems unlikely that we will see a repeat of that. Worse case would suggest more fo the same rather than an order of magnitude increase in fighting.

    I don't see the external drivers present in Iraq as in Vietnam that would cause outside destabilization of an Iraqi govt. There are some, but I don't think they are sufficient to match what North Vietnam did. The only real driver is one of religious fanatacism and whether or not Iraq will regress to some sort of theocracy. After a hated secular dictator, such a reactionary event is quite possible.
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    Shadow Senior Member Kagemusha's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Harvest
    There are some comparisons, but it is too early to tell. It really depends on whether the local govt. can get up and running and obtain majority legitimacy among Iraqi's. If it fails to gain that legitimacy, then yes, the situation would be similar to Vietnam.

    Casualty wise there are some similarities: Looking at the 1961-1965 period, Vietnam KIA were 1,864 and WIA were 7,337. Iraq so far has had 1,352 KIA and 13,438 WIA. So if going by time period alone, American casualties don't compare favorably to Vietnam. However, the casualties in Vietnam were highest from 1966 to 1969. Seems unlikely that we will see a repeat of that. Worse case would suggest more fo the same rather than an order of magnitude increase in fighting.

    I don't see the external drivers present in Iraq as in Vietnam that would cause outside destabilization of an Iraqi govt. There are some, but I don't think they are sufficient to match what North Vietnam did. The only real driver is one of religious fanatacism and whether or not Iraq will regress to some sort of theocracy. After a hated secular dictator, such a reactionary event is quite possible.
    I agree mostly to what Red Harvest is saying.But i have a fear that after US presence in Iraq ends i think that Iran could intervene very much to Iraqs domestic policy backed by the Shiia majority of Iraq itself.
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  9. #9
    Alienated Senior Member Member Red Harvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by sharrukin
    This is one reason that men such as Clinton and Bush, lacking military experience can be so dangerous as they do not understand the military or war. They can replace this experience with the wisdom to trust those who have such expertise. President Reagan knew to trust the right men, while Clinton and Bush failed on this account. Lacking both they become dangerous fools.
    I disagree with the characterization of Clinton here. He actually did a decent job overall and dealt with the Serbian problems. And the GOP opposed him for his strike against Osama...said it was a distraction from the BJ witchhunt. You can point to Somalia, but I can also point to Reagan's equivalent, Lebanon. Both were ill conceived in that the situations were too chaotic for America to do much about. Both had the sense to pull out when it became apparent that it was either going to require much more committment, or a pullout.
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    Don't worry, I don't exist Member King of Atlantis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    There is one reason why i always see Iraq as another Vietnam. If you look at the details you will find many differnces, but in the end the reasons for going in are very similar.

    In both wars we were trying to change a government to our liking. I believe internal politics are up to the country involed and no one else, unless other countries are effected.

  11. #11
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    I find myself agreeing with PanzerJager on this one.

    Iraq is a very different country from Vietnam with a very different situation. The nature of combat is vaguely similar only that it is now in the urban jungle rather than the actual jungle.

    However, the US has been far more restrained in Iraq than in Vietnam in many respects. The treatment of prisonners by the US in Iraq is far more civil than in Vietnam, the US has caused far fewer civilian casualties than in Vietnam and the US has been far less disposed to resort to carpet bombing and such strategies.

    Why? Because Vietnam was a war - the present situation in Iraq is not a war. The insurgents have no safe zone, they are not affiliated to any nation. The Coalition cannot execute the kind of war it would like, because it has no defined opponents.
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  12. #12
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    I'm no Expert on POW treatment during the Vietnam war, but I seriously doubt we did anything as heinous as Abhu Graihb.
    The 'body count' system meant many never even got that far. You may like to read up on the My Lai Massacre. There was no intelligence to suggest these people were insurgents, many were old people and children, yet they were killed. It was the "anything that's dead and isn't white is a VC" attitude. Fortunately the US armed forces are now far more responsible and accountable than this.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    By Al Khalifah

    Why? Because Vietnam was a war - the present situation in Iraq is not a war. The insurgents have no safe zone, they are not affiliated to any nation. The Coalition cannot execute the kind of war it would like, because it has no defined opponents.
    One of the biggest problems with this war is that its politically correct, or an attempt at it. That works for a lot of things, but not war.

    Cube,

    Your solution may work or it may not, but the problem is such solutions are completely off the table.

    The first Gulf War ruined America's will to fight real wars. It instilled in normal Americans the assumption that we can fight huge wars with tiny casualties to both ourselves and civilians.

    People should, but will never, realize that the first Gulf War was the exception to the rule.

  14. #14
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    One of the biggest problems with this war is that its politically correct, or an attempt at it. That works for a lot of things, but not war.

    Cube,
    Your solution may work or it may not, but the problem is such solutions are completely off the table.
    The first Gulf War ruined America's will to fight real wars. It instilled in normal Americans the assumption that we can fight huge wars with tiny casualties to both ourselves and civilians.
    People should, but will never, realize that the first Gulf War was the exception to the rule.
    I absolutely agree. I am not entirely sure who is running this war, the generals, the sensationalist media or the PC police.

    Why do people believe that it is possible to win a war without casualties? I was not in favour of the war, but I am not going to become even more against it because of the casualties or demand a rapid withdrawl. I expected them. I think it would be almost sinister and wrong if there were no casualties to the Coalition while there are so many other casualties both insurgent and civilian.
    Minimising civilian casualties is always important when fighting a conflict in a country we are not at war with. I am in many ways torn. If the Coalition were less restricted in terms of its ability to engage the insurgents at a risk of greater collateral civilian casualties, it might be that the number of civlian casualties resulting from attacks by those insurgents might be less anyway.

    I don't know. Iraq is not a war anymore... how do we win?
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  15. #15
    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Of course, now that we are in a war, civilians will die. I think that the reason why people are angry at the 25,000 civilian dead is that they are angry at the war itself (I was against it myself).

    Back to the topic of the thread, I do not see many similarities between Iraq and Vietnam. The main similarity seems to be that US forces will probably be in Iraq for a long time, without making much progress, like they were in Vietnam. I think that this is what much of the comparison is focussed on.
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

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  16. #16
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    This means most of the terrorism must be imported. To stop that, you close the border. Truly close it, with bullets.
    Iraq has a land border of 3,650 km (Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km). In addition it has a 58 km coast-line. How exactly would you completely close such an enourmous border? Also, in order to close the border with bullets implies that you would shoot anyone trying to cross without authorisation. Shooting foreign nationals, possibly even on foreign soil of countries the Coalition is not at war with would be a pretty dangerous move.
    If the US were able to completely close off a border that size, then they would surely do it at home to stop the illegal immigration, since their land border with Mexico is only 3,140 km long.

    kill all the terrorists--or deport them
    Deport them to where? Every other country in the world will either definately not want them or will probably endorse their terrorism anyway.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
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    Bravery is to be terrified as hell;
    But to hold the line anyway.

  17. #17
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    And what if the terrorists try to tunnel into Iraq like the Viet Cong did in Vietnam?
    Apart from the outrageous expenditure of this escapade this sounds like one giant humanitarian nightmare. Not only is the rest of the world being kept out (surely violating international trade agreements and preventing movement of people), but surely the population of Iraq is being kept in like prisonners.
    This would surely be another Berlin Wall or perhaps we should call it Bushdrians Wall - designed to keep those pesky barbarians out.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
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  18. #18
    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube
    We enjoy a luxury in Iraq that was not available in Vietnam: the Ability to close off the entire country from anybody else's influence except ours.
    As Al Khalifah pointed out, closing Iraq's borders is completely impractical. Iraq's borders are far too large, and military resources are stretched enough as it is. Barbed wire would be too easy to destroy and the militay resourses are not great enough to patrol all of the thousands of miles of Iraq's borders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube
    Iraq had no terrorist problem before we invaded. This means most of the terrorism must be imported
    Not at all. The situation pre-invasion was just one that did not generate terrorism (Saddam's tight regime, no foreigners). Post-invasion, some Iraqis turn to terror due to the lack of law and order and the presence of foreign powers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube
    After that, you do a systematic sweep of the nation, inch by inch, and kill all the terrorists--or deport them, or send them to prison, or otherwise remove them from Iraq
    That would be a lot easier if we knew who the terrorists were, or if Iraq wasn't so large.
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

    -Wise words from John Prescott

  19. #19
    The Sword of Rome Member Marcellus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube
    Personally, I'd support anything from Nukes to Nerve Gas
    In case you didn't know, WMD aren't very selective as to who they kill. You would massacre thousands of civilians, failing the purpose of the invasion, and turning Iraq, the Middle East and indeed the entire world against you. They didn't use them in Vietnam, and they won't use them in Iraq.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Gelatinous Cube
    I'm just using it as a figure of speech.
    Phew
    Last edited by Marcellus; 07-19-2005 at 23:21.
    "Look Iíve got my old pledge card a bit battered and crumpled we said weíd provide more turches churches teachers and we have I can remember when people used to say the Japanese are better than us the Germans are better than us the French are better than us well itís great to be able to say weíre better than them I think Mr Kennedy well we all congratulate on his baby and the Tories are you remembering what Iím remembering boom and bust negative equity remember Mr Howard I mean are you thinking what Iím thinking Iím remembering itís all a bit wonky isnít it?"

    -Wise words from John Prescott

  20. #20
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Since we've gone this far we might as well finish the job properly and try to walk away from it all with some dignity remaining.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
    Bravery is not to never feel the fear.
    Bravery is to be terrified as hell;
    But to hold the line anyway.

  21. #21
    Very Senior Member Gawain of Orkeny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    I'm no Expert on POW treatment during the Vietnam war, but I seriously doubt we did anything as heinous as Abhu Graihb.


    Thats pretty funny. Believe me Abhu Graihb is nothing compared to what we used to do with captured VC. One of the favorite things to do was put a few of them blindfolded in a chopper, then go up and start questioning them. You would tell them that if they didnt answer you were going to toss them out. Well after you threw 3 or 4 out the door it was remarkable how the others would start yaking.


    There is no comparison between these two wars. Their is no government that we are fighting here or organised army. The vast majority of Iraqis dont favor the insurgents and definetly hate the foriegn fighters. In this one we are winning the hearts and minds of the people. Only the left and the madia want this to be another NAM and do all they can to try and make people believe it.
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    In this one we are winning the hearts and minds of the people.
    Yes when the people don't want you there and sections of the government don't want you there then you are really winning hearts and minds

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    Very Senior Member Gawain of Orkeny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Yes when the people don't want you there and sections of the government don't want you there then you are really winning hearts and minds
    So is it your contention that most Iraqis and their government want us to leave today? I seriously doubt it.
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  24. #24
    Slapshooter Senior Member el_slapper's Avatar
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    Default Re : Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Gawain of Orkeny
    So is it your contention that most Iraqis and their government want us to leave today? I seriously doubt it.
    You know, the fact that they hate your enemies does not mean they like you. You're the non-invited occupying force - and this means you are not welcome, regardless of the situation. Most Irakis don't want to fight you - and that's a huge difference with 'Nam - but they hate being occupied. I think you wouldn't have liked a french occupation of the States after France helped you getting independant - even if they wouldn't have been direct foes.

    And when Israelis entered S-Lebanon to take care of bad guys over there, the welcome was "thanks for the job, but please leave quickly". They didn't leave quickly, & still pay the price for it. Irakis are happy someone took care of the bad guys - but the ones who took care of him shall leave quickly or generate more enemies.

    Ah, and there is another difference : 'Nam had 1 single lone powerful enemy. Irak has 4 weak but hidden ones :

    1)Criminals freed by the bastard prior to the invasion - hostage takers
    2)Baath supporters - car bombers
    3)Foreign djihadists - kamikaze bombers
    4)Internal fight between communities - and sometimes the occupiers are positionned in the crossfire.
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  25. #25
    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    'Nam had 1 single lone powerful enemy
    Which is that? The PAVN or the NLF (Viet Cong)? Both were also provided with military and financial aid by the USSR.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
    Bravery is not to never feel the fear.
    Bravery is to be terrified as hell;
    But to hold the line anyway.

  26. #26
    Humanist Senior Member Franconicus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    The comparison is nothing but a cheap political tool used by some leftists in this country and abroad to evoke painful memories and an emotional response. However, when you start to look at the facts, the comparison falls apart.
    Why not compare. Everybody here does, even you. Because there are things that are similar, other that are not. People died, there is a war of military against non military fighters, there are non-military fighters against civilists, there is the influence of the media, there is no clear way to end the war, ... both in Vietnam and in Iraq.
    Other things are different. During Vietnam there were never attacks outside of Asia (right?) and so on.

    So I think you can compare some things (if you like to). Saying both are the same is silly!

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    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Other things are different. During Vietnam there were never attacks outside of Asia (right?) and so on.
    A Muslim in not an unusual sight in modern day Britain and they represent a considerable portion of the population in many urban areas. Therefore Islamic terrorists can easily blend in. It would have been very difficult for a member of the Viet-Cong to operate without attracting a lot of attention in 1960's America.
    Cowardice is to run from the fear;
    Bravery is not to never feel the fear.
    Bravery is to be terrified as hell;
    But to hold the line anyway.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Senior Member Ser Clegane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Khalifah
    It would have been very difficult for a member of the Viet-Cong to operate without attracting a lot of attention in 1960's America.
    You think so? I would not bet too much money that most people would be able to tell a Vietnamese from a Chinese and I believe that in the 60s/70s there were already sufficient numbers of e.g., Chinese living in the US for a Vietnamese terrorist not to attract too much attention.

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    Member Senior Member Proletariat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    The comparison is foolish. Pho is sublime and Fish Broth-Sayyadieh is nauseating in comparison.

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    Dyslexic agnostic insomniac Senior Member Goofball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vietnam and Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    The comparison is nothing but a cheap political tool used by some leftists in this country and abroad to evoke painful memories and an emotional response. However, when you start to look at the facts, the comparison falls apart.
    Oh, I don't know. They are both unpopular wars that were sold to the American people on false pretenses. That's a big similarity.

    But you're right, beyond that, there are not a lot of similarities.

    I think the American experience in Iraq can be much more accurately compared to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan.
    "What, have Canadians run out of guns to steal from other Canadians and now need to piss all over our glee?"

    - TSM

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