April 13, 2004
The Quagmire Fallacy

One of the reasons for the lack of essays lately is I'm doing research into exactly why Iraq is not "another Vietnam". Unfortunately I still have two or three books to plow through before I'm ready to start. However, this Moscow Times article (courtesy of Instapundit) presents a nice "20,000 feet" view:

The Vietnam War was a battlefield in the global Cold War that pitted the United States against the Soviet Union and its allies. The Soviet defense industry supplied the North Vietnamese with the latest weapons ... So long as the Soviets were able to maintain a global balance of power, any local war -- in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nicaragua -- tended to develop into a quagmire.
Posted by scott at April 13, 2004 08:34 AM

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I think that 20k' view is a very good summary. one thing to check out - assuming you haven't run across this already is the success of Rolling Thunder. Basically, we damn near bombed the Viet Cong and NVA into submission, but then stopped to show we were willing to negotiate. At that point, the Soviets and China flooded the country with arms and materials. From there on out, it ended up in a quagmire. Iraq is definitely different because no one is supplying them arms...

Posted by: Ron on April 14, 2004 03:12 PM

I vaguely remember writing something about balance of power in the '80's a while back... while not specific about Vietnam, it's the same theory... neither side could possibly allow the other side ANY advantage and was willing to pay any price... eventually, (thank you Uncle Ronnie!) it bankrupted the USSR....

that is actually a great article.. the question posed at the end bears some reflection....

Posted by: Jim S on April 14, 2004 11:38 PM

now that I've read the article, I agree - very well written. The last question does bear reflection. My thought is that we will be better leaders than those of a century ago for one basic reason. We want to install a local government that will serve the Iraqi people - not the motherland. Also, with the ability of the media to report quickly on any abuse of power (and quite willing to expose the Republican gov't), it'll be difficult for us to do anything less. Not that the gov't won't be VERY pro-American...

Posted by: Ron on April 15, 2004 09:11 AM
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