As I wrote here, there are apt comparisons between all wars. People are killed. People are taken prisoner. There are winners. There are losers. And sooner or later, Hollywood gets into the act and profits from the bloodshed. But the accurate analogies between Vietnam and Iraq are relatively few.
Now come scholar-historians Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson, who in a compelling Democracy: A Journal of Ideas commentary not only put the lie to much of the endless Vietnam-Iraq analogizing by the White House and senior U.S. military commanders, but argue that the biggest lesson of the earlier war is that the U.S. has to get out of the present one now.
Some highlights of the commentary:
* The decline of American prestige and destabilization of
As the war proceeded, it became clear that there were no plausible circumstances under which the
The first was between late 1963 and early 1965 "when doubts about Vietnam’s importance to U.S. and Western security, the ability of the Saigon government to do its part, and the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency capabilities were rife among American decision makers." The fear of appearing weak prevailed.
The next was from 1965 to 1967 when there were
The last was from 1968 to 1969 "after
* The arguments for staying in
These realities suggest that in the event of a
* As long as
However, neither "appears capable of doing its part, just as neither ARVN nor the
* The U.S. cannot abandon or ostracize
"The Vietnam experience counsels not staying put but rather minimizing the U.S. military presence soon, while still promoting political progress in Iraq and regional stability. No cost-free solution exists; any 'victory' would achieve far less than what was originally envisioned by the war’s architects and strongest defenders. But a strategic withdrawal would constitute a mature response to what has become an obviously futile quest."
* Analogies to other counterinsurgency efforts