Iraq war & Vietnam War Essay


It is the common view that the war imposed by Bush Administration on Iraq is turning into another Vietnam War. The critics and other scholars compare the war of Iraq to that of Vietnam War fought by Johnson’s administration 40 years back. In April 2004, American President George Bush declared: “The analogy [between Iraq and Vietnam] is false.” (The Progress Report, Ronald Bruce St. John) While discussing about this issue Ronald Bruce St. John, the analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus retorts that Iraq war is very similar to that of Vietnam war because he has stayed in Vietnam for about 10 years, from 1970 to 1980.Though Bush first denied, the fact that the Iraq war and Vietnam war are somewhat similar to each other, Ronald Bruce St. John points out the truth in this opinion in his article “Sorry, Mr. President, but Iraq looks a lot like Vietnam.” Finally Bush officially agreed that there is a similitude between this orders. He confessed it in an interview given the ABC channel. Bush agreed that the New York Time Columnist Thomas Friedman is right in his opinion that the Jihadists are equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam. It is necessary to compare both these wars from different perspectives. Here we should think about some major points to show the similarities and differences between these wars. This includes the background and purposes, strength and international support, public opinions, Losses and aftermaths and the opinions about the two Presidents who are related to the war.

Background and Purposes:

The Iraq war was fought on the background of the terrible attack on World Trade Center Buildings those had been an Achilles heel for America. The diplomatic purposes of Iraq war officially announced by the US and allies include the following points:

  1. To eliminate the oppressive and brutal dictatorship and to save the Iraqi people from the prolonged sufferings.
  2. To eliminate the mass destructive weapons developed by Saddam Hussein.
  3. To establish the democracy in Iraq.
  4. To find out the connection between Saddam Hussein and the other   terrorists who are the threat for the western countries. 

While objecting on these reasons many critics point out different views. According to Scott Ritter about 90 to 95% weapons had already been destructed and there were no weapons found after the attack. “When I left Iraq in 1998… The infrastructure and facilities had been 100% eliminated. There’s no doubt about that. All of their instruments and facilities had been destroyed” (“War on Iraq”, p.26, Ritter and William Rivers Pitt, Profile Books, 2002)   the critics opines that the main purpose behind this war was America’s interest in the crude oil. And by invading Iraq America was planning to settle its monopoly on the crude oil. The purpose behind Vietnam War was totally different. Growing communism was the basic concern for United States. China adopted communism in 1949. Soviet Union was a communist country. In Vietnam the condition was confusing. South Vietnam was under the influence of capitalism while North Vietnam had adopted the communism and thus was supported by China and Soviet Russia. If the whole Vietnam had come under the Communist influence America would have lost its hold in Asia. This was the major reason United States waged war against Vietnam.

Public Opinion

If we take into consideration the public opinion we will come to know that the attitude of common American citizens towards the Iraq war is conspicuously similar to the public opinion towards Vietnam War in taken in 1970. According to some historians as well as political scientists the Iraq war will shape American attitudes on foreign policies and the use of military force long after it is over like that of Vietnam conflict. John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University says, “This war is probably a really big deal historically in terms of America’s perspective on the world. What you’re going to get after this is ‘We don’t want to do that again — No more Iraqs’ just as after Vietnam the syndrome was ‘No more Vietnams.” According to the poll taken by CNN, The USA Today, and Gall Up more than half of the people think that the US should withdraw its troop from Iraq within next twelve months. The same attitude was there in poll taken at the time of Vietnam War. One more survey which shows the resemblance between these two wars is that during the Vietnam War in 1970, 56% people felt that America had done a great mistake by sending the troop to Vietnam. During the Iraq war also almost same percent, i.e. 54% people think the attack on Iraq as a mistake of US. During the war of Vietnam initially the American people supported the war but by late 1967 a plurality agreed that America had committed a very wrong deed by attacking on Vietnam.

Professionalism and skills

Vietnam was a country with a long national history. As compared to Vietnam Iraq was a very young nation which was already facing the major serious problems of sectarian conflict which was the main threat to the progress, unity and integrity of the nation. While fighting with Vietnam America was fighting with such enemy who was highly experienced, skillful, tactful and professional with an optimum international support and legitimacy.  The military also was not strong as compared to Vietnam. Vietnam was a Communist country and it had a clear proper political, social and economical Agenda. The war was centrally directed, classic and peasant based and moist model based. Unlike Vietnam the war of Iraq was lacking professionalism in the war and there was a lack of unity. The civil war which took place in Iraq between the Sunnis and Shias also created much anarchy. The internal unity was not there then how can any nation survive before the strongest nation of the world?  In such situation it is not possible for any nation to survive.  The Iraq war was fought by many scattered groups and they had no particular aim before their vision.

International Support

The major point during Vietnam War was that Vietnam as mentioned above was a communist country and that is the reason it was getting a massive support from the two major communist superpowers, Soviet Union and China. Though actually not participated in the war, Moscow and Beijing were playing a role of the patrons by providing exorbitant assistance to Vietnam. This helped Vietnam to sustain its military strength. There were two superpowers in the world at the time of Vietnam War, America and Russia. One of these superpowers was constantly supporting to North Vietnam. The US had no way except to be alert and conscious. But Bush Administration had no such fear because Saddam Hussein had been totally isolated. As compared to Vietnam Iraq was a weak foe for America as it is isolated politically. Unlike Vietnam Iraq was neither supported by any superpower that could check America nor any other powerful nation who could stand firmly behind this small nation. Iraq was totally alone and didn’t get help from any advanced country to strengthen its military power. He had no access to the advanced technologies. Plus America was supported by the most advanced countries on the planet for this war. Among them are United Kingdom, Denmark, Australia, and Poland. So in such case it was not possible for Saddam to survive his country before the one and only superpower and its strong allies. While fighting against this superpower and its allies the Iraqi insurgents were lacking in an apparent ideology. They had no vision about the future of their nation. And they were fighting with the superpower in very decentralized and uncoordinated manners.

Innumerable Losses

According to some critics the Iraq war was very small as compared to the War fought against Vietnam. While stressing the point William Greider in his article Iraq as Vietnam war states the war of Iraq was a “little Tet,” that is a smaller version of the original Tet offensive the Vietnam staged in 1968. He also states that the American learnt once again that the indigenous people they “liberated” do not love them. But according to my personal opinion Iraq war is a dreadful experience for the common people though it is very small for the rulers and the politicians. It led the common man into a terrible misery. Take the common man into consideration and one will come to know the intensity of this war. The loss in Iraq was comparatively much to that of Vietnam. The common man in Iraq was quite got used to the Unemployment, torture, brutal rape incidents, rain of bombing, murders, suicides, and the acute domestic problems like gasoline, water and electricity shortage. The devastation knew no bound at all. If we read the devastation story from the common man we come to know the horrible situation. This is the data of this decay in Iraq. This is described by an Iraqi Blogger called Riverbend (blog of 18th January 2006, “A tribute to Iraqi ingenuity,” “Baghdad Burning.”)The data explains the number of decays occurred in different places in Iraq: Schools and scholastic facilities -3960, Universities, labs, dormitories -40, health facilities -421, telephone exchanges and communication towers -475, bridges, buildings, housing complexes-260, Warehouses, shopping centers, grain silos- 251, churches and mosques -159, dams, waters, pumping stations, agricultural facilities -200, petroleum facilities, refineries -145, general services- 830, factories, mines, industrial facilities -120. This is not at all. Much more damage happened than this. Radio stations, museums, retirement homes everywhere there is a vast and severe damages which are beyond repair. Dams were the worst affected places. Many civilians, many from the troops were killed. Everywhere there is anarchy and anarchy. Iraq was burning. Constant attacks, lootings had made it impossible for the common man even to breathe. Reconstruction of Iraq in such a terrible situation was a Herculean Task for anybody. This blog is enough to know the devastation in Iraq. Vietnam War was also a dreadful one from the point of view of human loss. Approximately 3 to 4 million Vietnamese from both sides lost their life. About 1.5 to 2 million Lao and Cambodians were drawn into the war. More than 58,000 Americans were also killed during the war. This war was the most unpopular and longest in the history of America. More than twice of the US troops were deployed in Vietnam during the wartime. The number is 334,600, while at the time of Iraq war the number was less than half that is 160,000.

President Johnson and President Bush

In 1967 the contemporary American President Johnson delivered his annual message to Congress. In his message he called this war “A costly war.” He further justified this war by saying that “the people of South Vietnam have as much right to remain non-Communist—if that is what they choose—as North Vietnam has to remain Communist.” In this speech he also stated that the people of South Vietnam have much right to remain non communist if that is why they choose – as North Vietnam has to remain Communist.” Further, the “ United States and [its] allies are committed by SEATO Treaty to ‘act to meet the common danger’ of aggression in Southeast Asia.” There was  somewhat a resemblance between the speech and the speech delivered by  George Bush which he delivered in October 2005 when he urged that “the freedom is assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generation of democratic progress.” He gave the same hint which President Johnson had given in 1967. While describing their respective enemies both these president incline towards calling them the dictators who are repressing the noble the ethics of Democracy. And being a patron of democracy it is the duty and responsibility of America to cherish the democracy from all threats. L.B. Johnson called their enemy as “A stubborn adversary who is committed to the use of force and terror to settle political questions.”  Like Johnson Bush also opines the same thing when he states that “The terrorists’ goal is to overthrow rising democracy. The enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence.”


Vietnam war was a war of communism verses capitalism, while Iraq war was the war of terrorism verses democracy. But in both of these wars America, the common fighter seems to be frustrating and it rambled from its target and the actual reason. There fight became visionless and meaniningless at the end. Whatever may be the reasons these two wars are a stigma to humanity. Rather  war is not a solution for any problem. This results only in destruction and decay.The politicians always remain far away from the sufferings which the common man has to suffer for no reason. The common man wants peace, prosperity and a security. Innumerable human loss is not affordable either for the winner or for the looser. America as a mightest nation should know its accountability. If America is really willing to establish democracy in the whole world it should know that war and aggressive policy is not the solution. Because this is not the democracy that was dreamt by Abraham Linchon. Democracy is the most ideal form of the government but it can be spread through the peaceful way also.


  1. News Service – Foreign Policy in Focus
  2. – News-center and USA Today 
  3. “Iraq and Vietnam”: Differences, Similarities, and Insights – Jeffery Record W. Andrew Terrill
  4. “Iraq as Vietnam” – William Greider  – The Nation issue on May 3rd 2004.
  5. “A tribute to Iraqi ingenuity,” “Baghdad Burning” –  Blog by Riverbend. 
  6. “War on Iraq” – Ritter and William Rivers Pitt, Profile Books, 2002
  7. “How do Iraq and Vietnam Compare?” – An article by Nicholas Stirrett.

       History News Network (HNN).

  1. “Guardian Unlimited,” Thursday, Oct 19, 2006 an article by Mark Tran.