I wear a button on my backpack that says: "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam". Every day this becomes clearer to me. Danny Schechter, of MediaChannel.org, writes in detail about the parallel, and about how the mainstream media ignores the connections.
The word is Vietnam.

Its absence was never more noticeable than in the coverage this past weekend of the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam war, marked in Vietnam with celebrations, but largely ignored in America where CNN led with the story of a bride who went missing when she had second thoughts.

Is this denial or is it deliberate? Just this past month, the national Smithsonian Museum of American History installed a new patriotically correct permanent war-positive exhibition, "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War."

If you want to know about the pain of the war official America wants you to forget, you have to head a few blocks south on the mall in Washington to the Vietnam memorial with its nearly 60,000 names engraved in black marble. That's where you will see the tears of visitors every day and their lingering memories three decades later.
I've blogged about this before. My brother was draft age during Vietnam. It was always a concern in our home: how would he get out of it? One of my earliest political memories is of Walter Cronkite's newscast, with the three flags in the upper right corner - American, South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese - with a supposed body count of the day next to each. My parents would watch in sober silence, or shaking their heads, jaws clenched. One of my next political memories is attending an anti-war rally with my father.

Schechter lists a dozen parallels between the two wars. Read the whole thing here.


Rognar said...

Some of the parallels are certainly valid. A couple are questionable. In any case, there are several differences that are as significant, if not more so, than the similarities. First of all, the Iraqi insurgents have no superpower patron the way the Viet Cong did. This means they will never be a serious threat to actually defeat US forces. America will never be chased out of Baghdad the way they were Saigon. Secondly, there is no draft and there won't be unless the Bush administration decides to open a second war front (or perhaps third) in Iran. I doubt they are foolish enough to do that. No draft ensures that opposition to the war will likely never reach levels similar to those during the Vietnam War. Finally, the Iraqis aren't one people. The Sunnis are as hostile towards the Shi'ites as they are towards the US. This means they spend as much effort fighting each other as the coalition.

laura k said...

There are certainly differents, and why wouldn't there be, it's not the same place or time.

I don't necessarily agree with the ones you've listed here. For example, a concerted pan-Arab could eventually defeat US forces in Baghdad. Never is a long time. No one thought the North Vietnamese would do it either.

And a draft may be in the works. I won't say "is," but I believe it to be the case.

You're very correct that as long as US forces remain all-volunteer, the anti-war movement will remain somewhat muted. However, all polls show most Americans are opposed to the war. I take some hope from that.

Rognar said...

I have to say, I'm underwhelmed by the power of Pan-Arabism. The Arabs have engaged in a half century of conflict with Israel and have lost ground at every turn. I see little evidence to suggest they would have any more success against the US. True, I can't say it would never happen, but I don't see any figure in the Middle East, not even bin Laden, who could serve as the Arab Ho Chi Minh.

laura k said...

That's a very good point. The US does present an unusually unique (and appealing) target. But I do see what you mean.