Iraq Is Not Vietnam, Part III

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by Jim Cox by Jim Cox

A rising concern that Iraq is becoming the new Vietnam has prompted many commentators to denounce any such comparisons as too ridiculous to be entertained. Here's a comparison of Iraq limited to 2003–2004 to match the first two years of US ground troop involvement in fighting in Vietnam, 1965–1966 to show the difference:

Item

Iraq 2003–2004

Vietnam 1965–1966

1

Commander-in-Chief?

Texan, George W. Bush (with stateside duty during Vietnam war)

Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson (with stateside duty during World War II)

2

Justification for invasion?

Based on deceptions – WMD, 9/11, aluminum tubes, etc

Based on deceptions – Gulf of Tonkin

3

US Casualties?

1,432 killed, 3,000+ wounded

3,910 killed, 5,000+ wounded

4

War Declared by Congress as required by US Constitution?

No, instead a resolution authorizing the president to take action he deems necessary

No, instead a resolution authorizing the president to take action he deems necessary

5

Enemy?

Not a nation, but an abstraction – terrorism

Not a nation, but an abstraction – the spread of communism

6

Frontlines?

No frontlines, guerilla resistance

No frontlines, guerilla resistance

7

President makes TV appearance to reassure Americans of the necessity of the war?

Yes, after 2 years – 2005

Yes, after 3 years – 1968

8

Handling of the Federal Budget?

Guns and butter policy

Guns and butter policy

9

Party in control of Congress?

No check and balance as Congress is in the hands of the same party as the Presidency

No check and balance as Congress is in the hands of the same party as the Presidency

10

Troops?

Enlistments buttressed by deployment extensions, and National Guard and Reserves

Enlistments buttressed by draft

11

Troops in country?

140,000

200,000

12

Alliance?

minimal troops from allied countries

minimal troops from allied countries

13

History of country?

former colony of a European power (Britain, 1917–1932)

former colony of a European power (France, 1887–1954)

14

Hoped for Solution?

Iraqification

Vietnamization

15

Most extreme suggestion?

Michael Savage: "Drop a nuclear bomb on the Sunni triangle."

Curtis LeMay: "Bomb them back to the stone age."

Thus, we can all take comfort securely in our knowledge that Iraq is not Vietnam; Vietnam is spelled with a "V" and is in Southeast Asia, Iraq is spelled with an "I" and is in Southwest Asia.

Jim Cox is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Lawrenceville Campus of Georgia Perimeter College and author of Minimum Wage, Maximum Damage.

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