Operation Iraqi Freedom: Vietnam War terms

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Vietnam War terms have begun to surface and be associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Reuters (October 31, 2003).[1]

"The language of the Vietnam war has crept into the U.S. debate on Iraq, with officials and pundits talking of guerrilla warfare, pacifying the country, combating insurgents and even how to leave with honor."
"Sandy Berger, national security adviser to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, on Tuesday asked a question that long haunted U.S. policy-makers on Vietnam: 'Regardless of how we got here -- how do we get out with honor and with integrity and with a result that is better than what we started with?'"
"Asked by a European journalist last week how the Iraq war was going, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage spoke of pacification -- a classic Vietnam term -- to suggest that much of the country appeared to be quiescent.
"His comment about most attacks occurring in the so-called Sunni triangle of Iraq roughly defined by Baghdad, Tikrit and Haditha brought little solace to Berger, who suggested this was a textbook tactic of a 'classic guerrilla war.'"

Reference is being made to compare current "battles" in Iraq with those in Vietnam:

"In an editorial on Wednesday, The Washington Post said the wave of attacks 'probably is intended to have the same effect as the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam: to convince Americans that their troops are committed to a losing cause and must withdraw -- even if, in military terms, that is not the case.'"

Regarding withdrawal from Iraq, Berger said "'I think it'll be a serious defeat in the war on terrorism because I think it will say that pound them hard enough and they leave. We cannot do that,' he told reporters, echoing one U.S. justification for staying in the Vietnam War -- that U.S. credibility would suffer greatly if it withdrew."

"Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, said the Vietnam analogy was being applied to Iraq because Americans seemed to be grasping that, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote in an Oct. 16 memo, the U.S. occupation of Iraq is likely to be 'a long, hard slog.'
"'Questions are arising as to whether the American people will have the heart to stay the course. Those are just the questions that arose ... in the Vietnam War,' Buchanan said.
"'They are coming not because the particular attacks are similar, nor because the configuration of problems in the two nations are similar. What is similar is the emergence of the unhappy realization that this is a very difficult problem that promises more pain than it does reward for the foreseeable future,' he said."

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