Much is being said and written these days about how the war in Iraq resembles the war in Vietnam. The theme began during the 2004 presidential campaign with Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry describing Iraq as a "quagmire" and demanding a "date certain" for a U.S. pullout. Purveyors of the "news" in our so-called mainstream media picked up the beat -- though many of them are too young to know anything more about Vietnam than what they learned from a movie. The "Vietnam deja vu" howl is now in full cry. But it's a myth.
Having now spent nearly as much time in Iraq as I did on my first "tour" of Vietnam in 1968-69, it's readily apparent that the parallels between the two wars are practically non-existent on the battlefield. In the press and politics -- it's a different matter. The barons of bombast have decided that Iraq equals Vietnam. Those who make this argument are ignoring some very inconvenient facts.
Most importantly, the adversaries confronted in both wars are radically dissimilar. In Vietnam, U.S. troops faced nearly a quarter of a million conscripted but well-trained, disciplined and equipped North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars and upwards of 100,000 highly organized Viet Cong (VC) insurgents on a constant basis from 1966 onward. Both the NVA and the VC "irregulars" were well indoctrinated in communist ideology, received direct aid from the Soviet Union, communist China and the Warsaw Pact and benefited from logistics and politico-military support networks in neighboring countries. During major campaigns against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces -- of which there were many each year -- both the NVA and VC responded to centralized command and control directed by authorities in Hanoi. None of that is true of Iraq.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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