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Thread: Vietnam War and Iraq War Comparison

  1. #1
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    Vietnam War and Iraq War Comparison

    All stats/dates sourced from wikipedia or basic google searches.

    [B][U][SIZE="5"]Vietnam War[/SIZE][/U][/B], 1955 to 1975 (20 Years), Main U.S. Combat Operations 1965 to 1975 (10 years).

    U.S. Casualties: 58,220 Dead. 1,687 Missing. 303,635 Wounded.

    Result: North Vietnam and Viet Cong victory
    --Withdrawal of American forces from Indochina
    --Dissolution of South Vietnam
    --Communist governments take power in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
    Territorial Changes: Unification of North and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

    Cost: ~$150 Billion (Adj. for Inflation, 1.2 Trillion in 1955 Dollars, 600 Billion in 1975 Dolalrs).

    [B][U][SIZE="5"]Iraq War[/SIZE][/U][/B], 2003 to 2011 (9 Years)

    U.S. Casualties: 4,476 Dead. 10 Missing (9 Rescued). 32,102 Wounded.

    Result: Coalition combat operations concluded, low level internal sectarian conflict ongoing
    --Overthrow of Baath Party government and execution of Saddam Hussein
    --Democratic Election of new government
    --Ongoing Insurgency, foreign terrorist operations, and sectarian violence[9]
    --Continued presence of American troops in advise and assist role until the end of 2011
    --Some suggestions that the Iraq War and subsequent democratic elections was a partial factor to democratic uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

    Cost: Estimated to be anywhere from 1 to 1.5 Trillion Dollars.

    In the future, how do you think these two Wars will be viewed by historicans living well beyond current-day partisanship? Will Vietnam continue to be seen as a major defeat?

    Will Iraq be considered a victory, by both Bush and Obama, in creating and then leaving a democratic country (weak and at risk, but as VP Biden says today, confidant in it's abillity to defend and represent itself, with the U.S. not rushing to leave but leaving responsably). Will the political battles internally over the causes and rationale for the War, and eary total mismanagement of the efforts, over-power any potential positve effects that may be attributed to it, such as (already in some corners) credit to Bush and Obama both for Iraq as part of the cultural uprisings in the region for Democracy and dethroning of Dictatorships?

    In 200 years, how will the Iraq War be viewed by historians, both millitary, and general? IS it possible, if Iraq is able to maintin it's Democracy (allied to us or not), and Libya and Egypt form stable Democracies (again, allied to us or not), that the Iraq War could (despite the fights over it's cause) be viewed as the Unitd States most successful (if financially costly) Millitary action since WWII?

    Obviously, much depends on the outcomes of many things still in flux. But putting politics aside (if possible), and realizing that the Iraq War has now be run by both parties (Bush for 6, Obama for 3), is it possible in your view that this conflict may look better well down the road than it does in today's politiclly fiery environement?

  2. #2
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4259044]In the future, how do you think these two Wars will be viewed by historicans living well beyond current-day partisanship? Will Vietnam continue to be seen as a major defeat?

    Will Iraq be considered a victory, by both Bush and Obama, in creating and then leaving a democratic country (weak and at risk, but as VP Biden says today, confidant in it's abillity to defend and represent itself, with the U.S. not rushing to leave but leaving responsably). [/QUOTE]

    they will both be considered misadventures. certainly not victories. Draws at best, at worst defeat. taking politics out of it, militarily speaking these conflicts had ill-defined victory conditions. Unwinnable is another way to put it. They were 2 unwinnable wars. And Afghanistan isn't far behind.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4259044]All stats/dates sourced from wikipedia or basic google searches.

    [B][U][SIZE="5"]Vietnam War[/SIZE][/U][/B], 1955 to 1975 (20 Years), Main U.S. Combat Operations 1965 to 1975 (10 years).

    U.S. Casualties: 58,220 Dead. 1,687 Missing. 303,635 Wounded.

    Result: North Vietnam and Viet Cong victory
    --Withdrawal of American forces from Indochina
    --Dissolution of South Vietnam
    --Communist governments take power in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
    Territorial Changes: Unification of North and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

    Cost: ~$150 Billion (Adj. for Inflation, 1.2 Trillion in 1955 Dollars, 600 Billion in 1975 Dolalrs).

    [B][U][SIZE="5"]Iraq War[/SIZE][/U][/B], 2003 to 2011 (9 Years)

    U.S. Casualties: 4,476 Dead. 10 Missing (9 Rescued). 32,102 Wounded.

    Result: Coalition combat operations concluded, low level internal sectarian conflict ongoing
    --Overthrow of Baath Party government and execution of Saddam Hussein
    --Democratic Election of new government
    --Ongoing Insurgency, foreign terrorist operations, and sectarian violence[9]
    --Continued presence of American troops in advise and assist role until the end of 2011
    --Some suggestions that the Iraq War and subsequent democratic elections was a partial factor to democratic uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

    Cost: Estimated to be anywhere from 1 to 1.5 Trillion Dollars.

    In the future, how do you think these two Wars will be viewed by historicans living well beyond current-day partisanship? Will Vietnam continue to be seen as a major defeat?

    Will Iraq be considered a victory, by both Bush and Obama, in creating and then leaving a democratic country (weak and at risk, but as VP Biden says today, confidant in it's abillity to defend and represent itself, with the U.S. not rushing to leave but leaving responsably). Will the political battles internally over the causes and rationale for the War, and eary total mismanagement of the efforts, over-power any potential positve effects that may be attributed to it, such as (already in some corners) credit to Bush and Obama both for Iraq as part of the cultural uprisings in the region for Democracy and dethroning of Dictatorships?

    In 200 years, how will the Iraq War be viewed by historians, both millitary, and general? IS it possible, if Iraq is able to maintin it's Democracy (allied to us or not), and Libya and Egypt form stable Democracies (again, allied to us or not), that the Iraq War could (despite the fights over it's cause) be viewed as the Unitd States most successful (if financially costly) Millitary action since WWII?

    Obviously, much depends on the outcomes of many things still in flux. But putting politics aside (if possible), and realizing that the Iraq War has now be run by both parties (Bush for 6, Obama for 3), is it possible in your view that this conflict may look better well down the road than it does in today's politiclly fiery environement?[/QUOTE]

    Welcome back. That was fast.

  4. #4
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    In retrospect, the Vietnam war was in some ways successful.
    I believe that among the underlying objectives was that the U.S. would show the Soviet Union and China that we could and would squander our military just like they could. That we could be hard hearted about American loss of life and stand toe to toe.
    It was well kinown that we could never achieve the objective of repelling North Vietnam or the Viet Cong insurgents. What people don't realize is that Vietnam is more populated than Germany with people who did not value life like many previous enemies. Plus they were fighting on their ground, something which the U.S. hasn't done a lot of.
    Ultimately, the war caused an escalation in the arms race resulting in the end of the Soviet Union.
    Still, 58000 dead is a tough pill. The war was fought poorly.

  5. #5
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    [QUOTE=bitonti;4259117]they will both be considered misadventures. certainly not victories. Draws at best, at worst defeat. taking politics out of it, militarily speaking these conflicts had ill-defined victory conditions. Unwinnable is another way to put it. They were 2 unwinnable wars. And Afghanistan isn't far behind.[/QUOTE]

    I certainly agree that both the impetus for War (in Iraq) and the Goals and Victory Conditions were poorly defined and managed at the start. I'd also say, for various debatable reasons, that the managemnt of the War itself was poor-to-questionable for a good portion of the Iraq conflict.

    With that said, Wars are often judged by outcomes. And as we sit today, it remains possible (not giving odds) that the outcome of the Iraq War could still be quite good. An ongoing Democracy in Iraq, possible Democracies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. Of course, all of these newborn Democracies could turn out to be future enemies, Iraq, Libya and beyond, and that too would be how the Wars will be judged.

    I would disagree that either conflict was, in pure millitary terms, unwinable however. On the battlefield, we won both hands down, by a wide margin. It's in other areas, mainly political, that we faced defeat (in Vietnam) and constant setbacks and problems (in Iraq).

    For purposes of this I've left out Afgahnistan, as it's really a very different War, with different casus belli, and different obstacles to overcome. While the two conflicts will always be tied together at the proverbial hip, here a direct one-to-one compariosn of Iraq and Vietnam, widely considered our two biggest failings, seemed interesting ground to plow.

    EDIT: As a courtesy, since I see you replied FF, you and cr are on my ignore list. I won't be reading or responding to anything you post from here on out.
    Last edited by Warfish; 12-01-2011 at 12:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4259132]I certainly agree that both the impetus for War (in Iraq) and the Goals and Victory Conditions were poorly defined and managed at the start. I'd also say, for various debatable reasons, that the managemnt of the War itself was poor-to-questionable for a good portion of the Iraq conflict.

    With that said, Wars are often judged by outcomes. And as we sit today, it remains possible (not giving odds) that the outcome of the Iraq War could still be quite good. An ongoing Democracy in Iraq, possible Democracies in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. Of course, all of these newborn Democracies could turn out to be future enemies, Iraq, Libya and beyond, and that too would be how the Wars will be judged.

    I would disagree that either conflict was, in pure millitary terms, unwinable however. On the battlefield, we won both hands down, by a wide margin. It's in other areas, mainly political, that we faced defeat (in Vietnam) and constant setbacks and problems (in Iraq).

    For purposes of this I've left out Afgahnistan, as it's really a very different War, with different casus belli, and different obstacles to overcome. While the two conflicts will always be tied together at the proverbial hip, here a direct one-to-one compariosn of Iraq and Vietnam, widely considered our two biggest failings, seemed interesting ground to plow.

    EDIT: As a courtesy, since I see you replied FF, you and cr are on my ignore list. I won't be reading or responding to anything you post from here on out.[/QUOTE]

    I hate to sound like a project management 101 course but it all comes down to how you define success. As you say in your post, " both the impetus for War (in Iraq) and the Goals and Victory Conditions were poorly defined and managed at the start.". Even today I think that you could take 3 people in America, say you, me and Bit and get 3 totally different deffinitions of what would constitue success in Iraq.

  7. #7
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    The historical success status of Iraq clearly lies with the future. Our ultimate relation with Iran, the outcome of the Arab Spring, Iraq's next era of politics, influences in any potential large scale terrorist attacks, impacts on our macroeconomics, etc. will all be factors.

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=Trades;4259158] Even today I think that you could take 3 people in America, say you, me and Bit and get 3 totally different deffinitions of what would constitue success in Iraq.[/QUOTE]

    that's usually a sign it's a bad war

    ask anyone why did we go to war with Japan they will tell you in 5 words or less. "They attacked us first" or something like that. the rationale for war shouldn't be so nebulous that no one can settle on a definition.

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