The Difference Between Vietnam and Iraqposted by Bill Arnett @ 1:15 PM Permalink
Usually when people make comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraqi War it is to point out similarities that should have acted as a warning to observe lessons learned and not repeat the mistakes we made in Vietnam.
But there is a difference, it's a hugh one, and it's one I believe reinforces the need to get out of Iraq.
In April, 1975, I was in Saigon during the baby-lift and mass evacuation operation in Vietnam. From the moment we hit the ground in Saigon we were continually surrounded by the largest mass of humanity I've ever seen, before or since. Every twenty minutes, depending on what type of aircraft was on the ground, we processed, searched, and then evacuated anywhere from 210-260 people. We combat-loaded them, marching them up the aircraft's tail ramp and seating them on the bare floor of the plane. Then we loaded what luggage they were allowed on the tailgate itself, the tailgate closed, and the craft would execute a rapid takeoff and turning ascent to gain altitude quickly and be less of a target for missles. My group worked for over 96 hours non-stop before backup help was flown in from the Philippines, and then we started twelve hour shifts and maintained that same pace continuously up to April 29th. I left on the last C-130 aircraft off the runway; everyone else behind me came out on helicopters, including those in the famous shot from the top of the embassy of helicopters taking off while people cried for help.
That sea of faces still haunts me, I still hear their pleas for help and evacuation, and it was obvious from the start that we would never be able to get all those people out. I felt genuine grief that America, after causing so much destruction and death in Vietnam, was abandoning these people to be killed or subjugated by the North Vietnamese and the disillusionment caused by the defeat of our forces was staggering. I still see the faces; I still hear their cries; I am haunted by our failure and the grief we caused so many innocent people. I hear the hubbub of a million voices in despair and cannot forget the ocean of humanity surging and retreating like waves on a beach as we'd load, process, load, process, seemingly without end.
And that is where the similarities between Iraq and Vietnam end. In Vietnam, millions begged us to stay, and despite all the doom-and-gloom predictions our government made then, as they do now in Iraq, leaving turned out to be the best thing we could have done for the Vietnamese, a country which is now a trading partner with much of the world and prospering as a whole.
There are not millions of iraqis begging and pleading with America to stay and protect the country and them. By a large margin they wish us gone so they can determine the future of Iraq and establish whatever government they wish, and not suffer under the rule of American puppet politicians.
The maladministration of bush cannot point to a sea of faces, an ocean of humanity, no millions of Iraqi citizens begging us to stay as they do not exist.
All comparisons stop: We were begged to stay by the South Vietnamese; Iraqi's are killing as many soldiers as they can to drive us out of Iraq. There is no comparison yet no one in government admits it.