U.S. political and military difficulties in Iraq have prompted comparisons to the American war in Vietnam. How, in fact, do the two wars compare? What are the differences and similarities, and what insights can be gained from examining them? Does the Vietnam War have instructive lessons for those dealing with today's challenges in Iraq, or is that war simply irrelevant?
In the pages that follow, two highly qualified analysts address these questions. Dr. Jeffrey Record, formerly a civilian pacification advisor in Vietnam and author of books on both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and W. Andrew Terrill, author and co-author of several SSI studies on Iraq, conclude that the military dimensions of the two conflicts bear little comparison. Among other things, the sheer scale of the Vietnam War in terms of forces committed and losses incurred dwarfs that of the Iraq War. They also conclude, however, that failed U. S. state-building in Vietnam and the impact of declining domestic political support for U. S. war aims in Vietnam are issues pertinent to current U. S. policy in Iraq.
The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer this monograph as a contribution to the national security debate over Iraq.
Douglas C. Lovelace, Jr.
Director, Strategic Studies Institute