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Thread: The Similarities Between Obama’s ISIS and Kennedy’s Vietnam Are Eerie

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    The Similarities Between Obama’s ISIS and Kennedy’s Vietnam Are Eerie

    Joseph Miller is the pen name for a ranking Department of Defense official with a background in U.S. special operations and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has worked in strategic planning.

    The war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is not a continuation of Operation Iraqi Freedom, nor is it Gulf War III: This is President Barack Obama’s Vietnam.

    Early on in the Iraq War, political pundits on the right and the left began to draw comparisons to the Vietnam War because at that point, it appeared as though Iraq was on a glide path to becoming an unwinnable quagmire. The surge of U.S. forces ordered by President George W. Bush, however, was able to turn the tide against the insurgency and al-Qaida, allowing the fledgling Iraqi government to gain a foothold and establish its legitimacy.

    But almost eight years later, Iraq has finally become what those pundits described– another Vietnam. And the historical parallels are eerily similar.
    Pentagon Official Obama ISIS Kennedy Vietnam Similarities | The Daily Caller

    So, Joseph Miller compares the two presidents and the two wars they had to fight. I should say, this is a pretty good analysis, and the two stories indeed look alike. This takes us to two main questions:
    1. Do presidents study history and draw lessons from it? Cause at the moment it seems they don’t.
    2. Is the Iraqi war going to end just as the Vietnamese, becoming the shame of the country? Cause at the moment it seems it is.

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    Re: The Similarities Between Obama’s ISIS and Kennedy’s Vietnam Are Eerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Tameamea View Post
    Pentagon Official Obama ISIS Kennedy Vietnam Similarities | The Daily Caller

    So, Joseph Miller compares the two presidents and the two wars they had to fight. I should say, this is a pretty good analysis, and the two stories indeed look alike. This takes us to two main questions:
    1. Do presidents study history and draw lessons from it? Cause at the moment it seems they don’t.
    2. Is the Iraqi war going to end just as the Vietnamese, becoming the shame of the country? Cause at the moment it seems it is.
    There are parallels between Vietnam and Iraq, no question. Both were limited undeclared and unconstitutional wars, both ended badly for the USA.

    There are differences, however.

    There was no ISIS like entity in Vietnam. There was the Khymer Rouge, but that was Cambodia, and was actually defeated by the Vietnamese.

    As for Kennedy, we don't know whether he would have committed a half million troops to the quagmire as his successor did. Lee Oswald saw to that.

    Obama is more in the position that Nixon was in, troops having been withdrawn, a power vacuum ensued, the war was lost and US troops went home.

    I think that's where the parallels end. The Viet Cong was never a threat to the US, didn't carry out or threaten to carry out terrorist attacks here, and didn't try to take over its neighbors. It seems to me that ISIS is a far greater threat to world peace than the Viet Cong ever was.

    Vietnam is a peaceful nation today. What will Iraq/Syria/Levant be in another 40 years? I wonder.
    "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud... [he's] playing the American public for suckers." Mitt Romney

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    Re: The Similarities Between Obama’s ISIS and Kennedy’s Vietnam Are Eerie

    Quote Originally Posted by Tameamea View Post
    Pentagon Official Obama ISIS Kennedy Vietnam Similarities | The Daily Caller

    So, Joseph Miller compares the two presidents and the two wars they had to fight. I should say, this is a pretty good analysis, and the two stories indeed look alike. This takes us to two main questions:
    1. Do presidents study history and draw lessons from it? Cause at the moment it seems they don’t.
    2. Is the Iraqi war going to end just as the Vietnamese, becoming the shame of the country? Cause at the moment it seems it is.
    Although the rise of ISIS and push by the North Vietnamese communists for control of all of Vietnam coincided with power vacuums--the former resulting from declining central authority in regional states/renewed sectarianism and the latter from fading colonialism), there are some big differences.

    North Vietnamese Communist Movement:
    - Local ambitions (basically to gain control of all of Vietnam)
    - Roots in the end of colonialism (saw itself as the logical inheritors of the territory that had been defined by colonial boundaries)
    - Sought a place within the regional order

    ISIS:
    - Regional and possibly global ambitions
    - Roots in the radical spectrum of the political Islamist movement
    - Seeks to smash the existing regional order (e.g., concept of nation states)

    IMO, those differences are crucial. Past revolutionary movements aimed at the pursuit of empire on ideological (especially religious) grounds probably offer greater insight than Vietnam. This does not mean that ISIS is assured of building and consolidating a brutal empire in the Mideast, much less expanding beyond it. It does indicate that the tools of diplomacy are very limited given the non-negotiable worldview of ISIS. As a result, there is a need to strengthen regional strategic allies such as Jordan, the KRG, and Iraq's new government early on so that ISIS does not grow into a regional power. So far, ISIS has opportunistically exploited the near disintegration of the Syrian state and the past sectarian rule of the Maliki regime in Iraq. Were Iraq to evolve into a more pluralistic government so as to gain support of its significant Sunni minority population, the KRG to gain strength, and regional U.S. allies to be safeguarded, ISIS's ability to achieve further gains could be limited. In sum, at least at this point in time, Iraq's fall to ISIS is not inevitable. Policy failures (among the U.S. and various Mideast states), though, could increase the risk of such an outcome. However, the scenario in which Iraq would fracture into a Kurdish state (assuming the KRG is supported by the U.S., as I hope it will be), a large swath of territory controlled by ISIS, and a Shia territory (perhaps a protectorate of Iran) is probably more likely than Iraq's complete fall to ISIS. It's difficult to envision a scenario where Iran would allow Iraq's predominantly Shia areas to fall to ISIS, as such an outcome would undercut its own critical interests, its influence among the Shia, and its regional aspirations.
    Last edited by donsutherland1; 10-14-14 at 12:44 PM.

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