Monday, April 30, 2007

Iraq worse than Vietnam?

How about these assessments of the Iraq war from some individuals more qualified than the Pilgrim to pass judgment?
President Bush recently said that "there's a lot of differences" between the current war in Iraq and the Vietnam War.

As fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year, an increasing number of experts in foreign policy and national strategy are arguing that the biggest difference may be that the Iraq war will inflict greater damage to U.S. interests than Vietnam did.

"In terms of the consequences of failure, the stakes are much bigger than Vietnam," said former defense secretary William S. Cohen. "The geopolitical consequences are . . . potentially global in scope."

"It makes Vietnam look like a cakewalk," said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Iraq is worse than Vietnam "in so many ways," agreed Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., a retired Army officer and author of one of the most respected studies of the U.S. military's failure in Vietnam. "We knew what we were getting into in Vietnam. We didn't here."

Gary Solis, who fought as a Marine in Vietnam and more recently taught the law of war at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he is hearing more such discussions. "Most of my military acquaintances agree that the issues in our departure from Vietnam will pale beside those that will be presented by an Iraq withdrawal," Solis said.

In addition, some experts say that the ethical burden of the Iraq war is heavier for Americans. "Vietnam had an ongoing civil war when the U.S. intervened, while Iraq's civil war did not begin until after the U.S. intervention," said a State Department official who served in Iraq and is not authorized to speak to the media. "This makes it much harder -- morally -- for us to extricate ourselves, at least from where I sit."
It has long been my contention that the Iraq war has hurt US interests and made us less- not more- safe.  President Bush has placed the US in a situation that has no good solution.  Someday I expect my history classes will learn about him in the same way they look at Johnson and McNamara in regards to the Vietnam war- as leaders who failed spectacularly and left their nation with problems from which it would take years to recover. 

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