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American attitudes on Iraq similar to Vietnam era

by Mark5019 / November 16, 2005 6:37 AM PST

WASHINGTON ? There are enormous differences between the war in Iraq and the one in Vietnam that defined a generation. The current conflict hasn't lasted as long, taken nearly as many American lives or sparked the sort of anti-war movement that marked the '60s and '70s.

Flowers are laid at a memorial to the Kent State University shootings, one of the divisive events of 1970.
Mark Duncan, AP

But when it comes to public opinion, Americans' attitudes toward Iraq and the course ahead are strikingly similar to public attitudes toward Vietnam in the summer of 1970, a pivotal year in that conflict and a time of enormous domestic unrest.

Some political scientists and historians predict that the Iraq conflict, like the one in Vietnam, will shape American attitudes on foreign policy and the use of military force long after it's over.

"This war is probably a really big deal historically in terms of America's perspective on the world," says John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University. "What you're going to get after this is 'We don't want to do that again ? No more Iraqs' just as after Vietnam the syndrome was 'No more Vietnams.' "

In a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, more than half of those surveyed wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within the next 12 months. In 1970, roughly half of those surveyed wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam within 12 months. (Related: Poll results)

In both surveys, about one-third supported withdrawing troops over as many years as needed, and about one in 10 wanted to send more troops.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican, rejects any comparison with the Vietnam era.

"I wasn't in the United States in 1970," says McCain, a POW in Vietnam at the time. "But I am very aware of what happened in 1970. There's not massive demonstrations in the streets (now). There's not the kind of opposition ? draft-card burning and all of that ? (seen) during the height of the anti-war movement."

Still, McCain says he is "very worried" about polls showing waning support for the war. "I would not try to sugarcoat it. Some things need to be done better," he says.

Growing unease over the war in Iraq has been reflected in recent days on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and in foreign capitals.

In the Senate on Tuesday, Republicans defeated a Democratic proposal that called on Bush to outline a timetable for the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops. Republican leaders countered with their own non-binding resolution that urged next year "should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty."

"There's a growing desire to get out of Iraq, almost regardless of the consequences," says George Herring, a history professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky and author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. "This is the way things began to develop in Vietnam after the fall of 1967."

In 1970, 56% said the decision to send troops to Vietnam was a mistake. (That number reached a high of 61% before direct American involvement in the war ended in 1973.) Now, 54% say the decision to send troops to Iraq was a mistake.

Split over war emerges in GOP


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Now, 54% say the decision to send troops to Iraq was a mista
by JP Bill / November 16, 2005 9:47 AM PST

Now you're one of the minority, it was just a matter of time.

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yup when the flower wavers kill troops
by Mark5019 / November 16, 2005 9:50 AM PST

and i bet your a flower waver

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(NT) (NT) That's ridiculous, Mark.
by Dan McC / November 16, 2005 11:56 AM PST
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by Mark5019 / November 16, 2005 12:06 PM PST

you dont think the terrists see news papers, news
then your just as bad give support to the enemy

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(NT) (NT) See above.
by Dan McC / November 16, 2005 12:28 PM PST
In reply to: why
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That's BULL Dan,
by duckman / November 16, 2005 12:07 PM PST

Unfortunately I cannot remember the Vietnamese General that wrote a book and saying that because of the anti war protesters in America, he knew that we did not have the resolve to maintain the war. Even after he knew that they would not be able to defeat us in the battlefields, they could win by just prolonging the war. In other words, had there been fewer protesters, the war would have ended sooner, not later and many more Americans would have lived

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the protesters are the enemmys best friends
by Mark5019 / November 16, 2005 12:27 PM PST
In reply to: That's BULL Dan,

just like nam
sickens me

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Not the same, IMO
by Angeline Booher / November 16, 2005 8:09 PM PST

There are differences, as the article points out. The Iraq war is now 3 years old, but I have not seen any viable evidence of the American people "blaming" the troops.

The concerns I have heard expressed focus on the monetary cost seen as financed by borrowing (with China holding a lot of the paper), suspicion raised by Halliburton getting the no-bid contract, and that not enough troops and proper equipment were sent in. And, yes, that it would have been best to have focused on Afghanistan first.

As to Vietnam, I have heard that there was a lesson that was not learned from that war. In Vietnam the troops went into areas, defeated the enemy, then left without leaving units behind. The enemy would then go back into the area. This had been happening in Iraq, but that mistake is now being corrected.

Personally, I do not compare Iraq to Vietnam. I do compare Iraq to the Gulf War in the sense that it was conducted with more planning, better leadership and foresight. I have said before that I think the President listened to civilians in the Pentagon more than the military.

But none of the above has anything to do with the troops. When they return home, they are greeted with honor, and praised for their service. Flags flew here for Veterans Day, and the parade drew thousands.

You fought for our freedom, as are our troops that answering the call. Thanks to you all!

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