Iraq: The 21st Century’s Vietnam

Before us we see the remnants of a nine year U.S. military effort slowly falling apart. City by city, person by person, the extremely brutal Islamist group ISIS is taking over Iraq with no shortage of bloodshed. The group is so radical and violent that it has even been denounced by al-Qaeda.

Make no mistake, Iraq will be taken over and made into a totalitarian state again, whether by another Saddam or by religious leaders. The countless lives lost, and the trillions of dollars spent will have all been in vain.

What did we fight this war for? Some say it was a liberation, some say it was an invasion. Some say it was for oil, some say it was for WMD’s. Whatever it was, Operation Iraqi Freedom has culminated in disaster for the United States and the Iraqi people.

Iraqi destruction

Why did this happen? There were three issues that were either ignored, or not taken into consideration by both Presidents Bush and Obama.

First, there did not seem to be an end-game plan for the war. What was supposed to happen after the U.S. pulled its troops out, if they were even planning on doing so? Perhaps a democratic state where people could participate in free elections, political discourse, etc. But there’s a problem with that, and it ties in to another problem.

Second, it was either ignored or not taken into consideration that the people of Iraq are not able to be governed under a democratic state. It is simply not feasible. More than 1,000 years of Islamic rule by Sharia that is antithetical to democratic governance prevents such a state from succeeding.

This may sound intolerant, or bigoted, but it is true. Certain people with different cultural norms and ways of life are not able to have a free society because they do not know what to do with it, or how to run it.

Third, terror groups cannot be eliminated from the Middle East. It is simply not going to happen. There are far too many places to hide and governments to grant asylum. Pakistan is too unstable to be called an ally, and Afghanistan is a Charlie-Foxtrot (military people, you get what I’m saying) where al-Qaeda and the Taliban still thrive. Iran is funding groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and now Iraq is starting to look like Chicago with all the shooting!

What is happening in Iraq is similar to what happened in the late 1960s to early ‘70s in Vietnam. As a part of the “Containment” policy, the United States brought troops in to South Vietnam to prevent the Northern Communists from taking over the country.

The war dragged on for years, and no one seemed to know why we were over there in a country that has little to do with our affairs. Support gradually waned as troops kept dying with little or no progress being made against the Communists. President Nixon really had no choice but to bring the war to a close; the American people had had enough.

Two years after the withdrawal in 1973, Communist forces captured Southern Vietnam and reunited the country under the Communist banner. The war came to a close in 1975.

Why did Vietnam fail? There was no end game, and the government underestimated the problem of guerilla forces of the Vietcong.

Why has Iraq failed? For very similar reasons.

Now in 2014, terrorist groups (the Vietcong of the Middle East) are destroying everything that was worked for in Iraq. In retrospect, the war was poorly executed, and possibly started on false pretenses (in the minds of some).

Where do we go from here? 2014 is very different from 1973 (although both eras had presidents plagued with scandals).

The United States was not $17 trillion in debt, or having a humanitarian crisis within its own borders. A reform on the focus of foreign policy must happen.

Rather than focusing on the world’s problems, we as a country need to fix ourselves. One does not help their neighbor build a house while their own home is burning. We put out the fire here first before we try to assist anyone else.

Is it very tragic what is happening with ISIS and other terror groups? Yes.

But, it would be more tragic to throw away more young men and women’s lives in a country that we cannot help. That is what both Obama and the Congress must consider before even thinking about sending troops back to Iraq for a third war.

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