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Iraq and Vietnam

  1. Nov 23, 2004 #1


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    Israeli historian and military theorist Martin van Creveld has written an interesting comparison of Iraq and Vietnam. van Creveld has written extensively about Israeli general and diplomat Moshe Dayan, and the linked article uses Dayan's visit to Vietnam as a war correspondent as a lens to show strengths and weaknesses of American military policy in each case.

    Here's the article's conclusion:
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2004 #2
    Thank you Plover, I was hoping someone will show us an article like this.
  4. Nov 23, 2004 #3


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    "the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high"

    About 15/100,000 (a few percent higher than the young average male in the US) vs. the French non-military rate of 20/100,000. Amazing how bias affects rationality!
  5. Nov 24, 2004 #4
    Geniere, your comment is respectfully noted, nonetheless the amiss, if indeed true, would be no more than a speck of dust on what I perceive to be, on the whole, a gem.
  6. Nov 24, 2004 #5


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    This article (the original source for the article, The Toronto Star, apparently won't let you see it without paying) gives the suicide rate as 17.3/100k for troops in Iraq vs a rate of 12.8/100k overall for the U.S. military. The comparison to civilian populations is not the relevant measure. These statistics are from April 2004, and so coincide with the end of a year following the invasion. (There were 24 suicides; assuming 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, I get (24/138000)*100000 = ~17.4) Also:
    The problem with making unsourced arguments using the wrong comparison is that it makes the critic look more biased than the person they criticise...
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2004
  7. Nov 25, 2004 #6


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    I think Iraq is closer to being a Lebanon-like scenario. The recipe: the multiplicity of groups, the availability of weapons and the presence of foreign militants and states make Iraq look more like Lebanon every day and has the potential of creating the same kind of chaos in Iraq that Lebanon suffered through in the 1980s.

    If the general elections in Iraq, scheduled in January 2005, fail to produce some semblance of political consensus across the three main communities -- Sunni, Shia and Kurd -- there is a great danger that the country will see the kind of civil war chaos that gripped Lebanon in the 1980s.

    Lebanon had Sunni, Shiite and Christian communities, each of which had its own factional subsets. During the civil war, many of these groups banded together to fight the Israeli invasion. Exacerbating the situation in Lebanon was the headquarters of a foreign group --Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization -- similar to Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's presence in Iraq. (And let's not forget neighboring Syria was also involved in Lebanon, with boots on the ground.) In Iraq, there is talk of introducing forces from Muslim states to assume the day-to-day security role. Meanwhile, local paramilitary and police forces are being overwhelmed by the various militant factions and are unable to shape events -- just as in Lebanon.
  8. Nov 25, 2004 #7


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    An interesting read, confirming my gut feelings. As for the suicide issue, it is really way to soon to see the long term moral damage like that which effected the US Forces in the Vietnam era (Source: Personal experience as a Vietnam era vet. (US Navy '69-'73)). Think of it in terms of acute vs systemic, we are looking at the acute issues now, it will take several more years before the systemic effects set in. Give the article thought, even if the final numbers given may not be statistically significant.
  9. Nov 25, 2004 #8
    Interesting, but I would disagree with this:
    There are many examples in history where the strong defeats a weak but popular rebellion. But this usually means ignoring humans rights. Stalin crushed Chechnya by killing 1/3 if the population. Caesar killed and enslaved 1/3 of the population in conquering and crushing rebellions in today's France.
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