There are important similar parallels in the study of why both Vietnam and Iraq have been failures that cannot be ignored. Both cases should serve as examples for decades for historians and military experts as important examples of just the type of situation that the U.S. cannot successfully get involved in and hope for a positive outcome.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, poor border security allowed a steady flow of fresh fighters as well arms to local radicals to continue conflict and violence against both Americans and against others living in both lands. In Iraq, a strong American ally, Saudi Arabia, continues to arm Sunni insurgents by funneling money into Sunni charities, while condemning the U.S. mission there, yet Saudi Arabia will get a new $20 billion dollar high tech military arms deal. And Iran continues to show heavy involvement with the Shiite community of insurgents as the oil supplies in Iran dry up, and it seeks to gain sectarian religious, political and oil leverage in Iraq.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, a strong sense of nationalism resented American involvement in both civil wars. Despite American intentions to prevent killing and to seek peace between warring elements and restore order, locals choose to fight on until they impose some government of their own design and resent foreign involvement, even if it is intended to police a violent situation and prevent deaths and violence.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, there was a complete failure of the two corrupt governments to command the loyalty of most citizens. Neither the corrupt government of Nguyen Van Thieu in Vietnam or the corrupt Shiite dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki inspired much local support to defend, and created a weak sense of support for both governments while a strong sense of nationalism fueled a drive for self-determination remained and continued anti-American violence and further civil war seeking a different government of some sort.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, there was no sincere intentions for warring elements to seek peace with other. Warring elements both figured that they could outlast American involvement and eventually win control of both nations.
In both Vietnam and Iraq, American efforts to create a local military to defend the corrupt governments were failures. Both "Vietnamization" and the creation of Iraqi security forces were largely failures where both forces often ran from battles and left American forces stuck with most of the combat duties and deaths.
In neither Vietnam or Iraq, did most Americans have any grasp of the history of both nations or the sense of self-determination driving the people of both nations to fight for their own form of government, even if it was a poor one.
To paraphrase an important old quote: Those who cannot remember history are only doomed to again repeat it. Both Vietnam and Iraq were doomed U.S. efforts from the very beginning with no real hope for a decent outcome for U.S. foreign policy interests.
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