Friday, June 17, 2005

Iraq, Echo of Vietnam War?

There are echoes of Vietnam War in the blogosphere of late, often ominous warnings of repeating the same experience in Iraq. Here is a pathetic piece from The Cunning Realist comparing Iraq War to Vietnam War which I intend to debunk. It illustrates the writer extreme poor understanding of military history.

Let take a look at a sample of the article's ill-informed argument:

In Vietnam, the enemy's firepower was utterly inferior to ours. While we flew high above the jungle canopy and dropped napalm from modern jets, the war was won and lost in unconventional ground battles. Some of the most effective weapons were booby-traps, which caused the death and permanent injury of thousands of U.S. troops. In Iraq, the most effective insurgent weapon is the low-tech roadside IED, effective both militarily and psychologically and also the cause of crippling permanent injuries similar to those in Vietnam.

Excuse me, “the war was won and lost in unconventional ground battles” and “the most effective weapons were booby-traps?” What uttered nonsense.

Here is the order-of-battle for North Vietnamese Army (NVA) during 1975 Spring Offensive and here is the account of the last battles. It involved of 200,000 troops, more than 700 armored vehicles, and numerous artillery pieces. The most effective weapons the Communist used were tanks and artilleries. By estimate, the NVA had more than 600 tanks and 400 armored personnel carriers. Here is an excellent article on the NVA armored force. How the author of the article concluded that the war was unconventional is puzzling. Perhap he know nothing of the war.

Often the story of the barefeet black pajama Viet-Cong who defeated a super-power is being repeated among non-historian with admiration – carrying with it a mythical quality. It is myth - fable tale. The truth is that the Viet-Cong was easily defeated. By 1970, they had ceased to be a fighting force, or even a political force. From 1969 – 1970, more than 70,000 Communists insurgents turned themselves in through the Amnesty Program. From 1970 onward, the war was fought with North Vietnamese conscripts and massive Soviet military assistance.

Not that it is impossible to compare and contrast Vietnam and Iraq. There are isolated aspects of the two conflicts that can be compared and contrasted. But at least do some homework and get the facts right. Learn the basic of both wars – both are extremely complex in military-political condition and socio-economic environment. Often writers use poor analogy in attempt to disguise the lack of knowledge and their intellectual laziness. The said article is an illustration of such analogy.


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11:06 AM  

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