I see a lot of writing calling Iraq a ‘quagmire’ and comparing it to Vietnam. I could be mistaken, but I detect almost a kind of smugness in the comparison, ie., people who think the US is going to get a come-uppance in Iraq the way it got such in Vietnam. I have to admit I dislike this, very strongly, for several reasons.
1) Tariq Ali complained once that the West had a ‘lack of imagination’ because it made every third world leader singled out for attack into ‘Hitler’… paraphrasing, he said: “Nasser was Hitler on the Nile; we had Milosovic who was Hitler on the Danube; we have Saddam who is Hitler on the Euphrates…” I think the Vietnam comparison is similar. Colombia was the next Vietnam; Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam; and so on.
2) If you want to make the comparison, the least you could do is not be smug about it. You should be crying when you make the comparison, not laughing at Bush. Vietnam was a holocaust. There were between 2-5 million Vietnamese killed, probably 40 Vietnamese for every American invader. Carter said ‘the destruction was mutual’, but I can’t help but see it as the US going off and destroying a country and murdering a large chunk of its population. If Iraq is ‘Bush’s Vietnam’, it is so in that respect, but that’s a tragedy.