Letters for Monday, December 13, 2004

Wars in Vietnam, Iraq lacked exit strategies

I found Matt Valkovic’s column in Friday’s BG News about the lack of parallels between the Vietnam War and the current Iraq War to be interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. He’s right in that using the Vietnam War is not the perfect analogy to today’s conflict. But of course, no

analogy is ever perfectly appropriate. Mr. Valkovic does a decent job pointing out important differences between the two wars.

What he doesn’t do is point out that in the end both conflicts share some key similarities. Just like there never was a viable exit plan in Vietnam (the puppet governments in South Vietnam were never self-sustainable), there is no viable exit plan in Iraq. Back in 1965 through 1975 Presidents Johnson and Nixon talked about plans for winning the win (doesn’t Vietnamization should a lot like the current plan to train Iraqis to do more of the work?!?); they kept the public content with minor military successes. Today’s pollyannas for Iraq can also point to military successes such as our recent rout of Fallujah and impending elections in Iraq.

Just like back during the Vietnam Era, those unrealistic optimists fail to consider the big picture of data that shows increasing casualties and no real change in the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

I hope that the history books read by my children’s children point to this conflict as a turning point in the flowering of democratic governments in the Middle East.

Right now, though, that scenario seems more like fantasy or science fiction.