The Vietnam-Iraq Comparison

The US death toll in Iraq hit 2-thousand last month. Almost 200 of the fatalities have been Texans. The US attacked Baghdad nearly 2 and a half years ago and there's no clear end to America's commitment in Iraq. That's prompted at least two prominent political figures to compare Iraq to another conflict the US was embroiled in.

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Inside the Beltway, it's simply called the "v" word. and it haunts Presidents, Members of Congress and Generals. They avoid the term fearing it will be used to describe the military operation of the day.

But recently Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and former General Wesley Clark invoked Vietnam to draw parallels to Iraq. Both were wounded in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart. After making the Iraq-Vietnam comparison, Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn heaped criticism on the duo.

The accuracy of the Iraq-Vietnam comparison is open to debate says Historian Allan Winkler.

Democratic Texas Congressman Gene Green understands why people try to link the conflicts.

But Green believes parts of the metaphor ring true.

Professor Alan Winkler even ties Vietnam and Iraq together with tragic scandals like the Mai Lai massacre or prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.

On V-J Day, President Bush compared his efforts to democratize Iraq with FDR's decision to enter the Second World War.

Republican Texas Representative Ted Poe thinks the President's comparison hits the mark.

Professor Barbie Zelizer studies political messages at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School. She says historical comparisons are selective in political discourse.

It's said Generals are always fighting the last war. but it instead it they're really fighting the Vietnam analogy.


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