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Is Iraq Another Vietnam? Hardcover – August 28, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition edition (August 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586484133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586484132
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

U.S. policymakers went to war in Vietnam and Iraq," writes Brigham, "with the expectation that a distinctively American story would emerge." In this brief and potent analysis of current American foreign policy, the Vassar College history and international relations professor bolsters his conclusions about the many similarities and decisive differences between these two military efforts with precise factual details and his ability to discern the vital trends underlying them. There are startling parallels here—many of Johnson's older Cold War advisers warned that Vietnam War costs would put the U.S. in "a serious financial crisis." But while Vietnam War critics took to the streets, Brigham observes that contemporary political dissent is "primarily through public opinion polls." Though a critic of the administration's Iraq policy, he's sensitive to nuance, noting that despite deep partisan differences, Congress gave both Lyndon Johnson and George Bush "broad presidential authority to use any means necessary" to act. He also gives serious consideration to the differences between a military composed of draftees and volunteers, speculating that today's returning veterans will denounce current policy and military actions. Brigham has produced a deftly written, well-argued polemic that's unlikely to sway staunch supporters of current policy, but may affect those in the center of the debate. (Sept.)
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"A short, readable analysis... Brigham brings clarity to his analysis of these significant, long-reverberating conflicts." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"As an exercise limning the limits and possibilities of historical analogy, Brigham's book is impeccable." -- Providence Journal

"[Brigham] explores the similarities and the differences between the two wars in an informed and thoughtful manner." -- Foreign Affairs

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Quang Pham on October 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
On the day after coalition troops liberated the Kuwaitis from Saddam Hussein's reign, President George H.W. Bush promptly declared in front of a joint session of Congress, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome." He was about as precise as President George W. Bush's speech after his aircraft-carrier landing, with the infamous "Mission Accomplished" sign as a backdrop.

Is Iraq another Vietnam? The question is the title of a new volume by Robert K. Brigham, a history professor at Vassar College who co-authored another Vietnam book with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

He is among a plethora of bloggers, military generals and pundits exploring the parallels. Last week Thomas Friedman of the New York Times compared the 1968 North Vietnamese offensive during the Tet lunar New Year to the recent increased insurgent attacks during Ramadan in Iraq. President Bush partially agreed with the analogy.

Brigham begins by disclaiming that the military size and scope are vastly different between the two wars. "The Vietnam War simply dwarfs the war in Iraq," he cogently writes. Vietnam escalated slowly into a full-blown war over a decade, whereas Iraq began with "shock and awe" that has been transformed into a civil war. The Iraqi insurgents don't have a charismatic leader like Ho Chi Minh or a full arsenal bankrolled by the Chinese and the Russians.

Brigham's work centers on three critical similarities: 1) The reasons for entering both wars were discredited; 2) nation-building became the secondary mission in both wars after the chaos the wars had created; and 3) as public support wanes, he cautions readers that an "Iraq Syndrome" will emerge and cripple U.S. foreign policy as the "Vietnam Syndrome" did for many years.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that gets assigned in political science classes at our universities. It is reasonable and reasoned. Its author, Robert K. Brigham, is a professor of history and international relations at Vassar College and an acknowledged expert on the Vietnam War. Consequently, he is in a good position to compare and contrast that war with the current one.

The war in Iraq differs from that in Vietnam in many important respects; nonetheless there are also similarities, is perhaps a good summation of Brigham's thesis. Clearly one difference is that in Vietnam we intervened to prop up a regime, whereas in Iraq we invaded in order to destroy a regime. Another is that in Vietnam we had the plausible national security justification that we were stopping the spread of communism. No such logic could be applied to Iraq, unless of course we accept the notion that maintaining our access to oil in the Middle East is a national security consideration, and that further, invading Iraq would work toward that goal.

The similarities include fighting a war against an enemy that has the support of a large segment (if not a majority) of the population, an enemy that cannot be easily overcome with superior fire power or the use of traditional strategies of conventional warfare. Another similarity is that both wars were justified by false reports, in Vietnam the Gulf of Tonkin attacks, and in Iraq the weapons of mass destruction that weren't there and the phony connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. A third similarity is that initially both wars enjoyed wide public support and presidents Johnson and George W. Bush were given free reign by Congress to pursue their objectives; but after many failures and impending defeat, the public and Congress turned against the wars.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Polexia on December 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The author compares the Iraq war and the Vietnam War. He looks at differences and similarities between the two. And I think that Brigham has done a good job in pulling forth valid, good and even important examples of differences and similarities.

If you're interested in American foreign politics, or interested in either of these two wars (facts, strategies, problems, who's fighting who etc.) then it is a very interesting read.
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4 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Ca A. No on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Like the fact that Saddam committed genocide attempts in his mass murder of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980's (during his Anfal campaign). Brigham mentions Saddam's invasion of Kuwait distinctly enough but that was one of Saddam's secondary crimes compared to his dreaded Anfal Campaign.
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