There’s been a lot of talk here and elsewhere about whether Iraq is like Vietnam. I’ve never thought much of the comparison for a bunch of reasons, but there’s one place where it seems to me it really falls apart: Morale. Maybe I’m just buying into a lot of mythology about Vietnam, but it’s always been my impression that the troops in Vietnam were pretty down on the whole thing (with many important exceptions), particularly at the end. Yet, I get lots of e-mail from troops in Iraq and I’ve never gotten the sense that they see Iraq like a Vietnam. Maybe I’m just getting a very selective sample. But everything I read or see on TV or hear on the radio gives me the same impression. There are lots of stories, many heartbreaking, about family hardships, soldiers missing their homes, battle stress, and the like. But they don’t “feel” like stories coming from another Vietnam. Lord knows the press is looking for these kinds of stories. And yet we do hear a lot from troops about how they want to see this through and how they don’t want this to be another Vietnam (i.e. they don’t want to see America turn its back on the Iraqis the way it did on the South Vietnamese). Maybe I’m missing something(s), but as far as dogs that don’t bark go, this is a pretty big dog.
Update: From a reader:
You may not have seen as many of the “I don’t know what happened – when I left we were winning!” bumper stickers as I did Back In the Day.