From a purely militaristic standpoint, the similarities continue. As previously stated, Johnson kept the offensive operations for months until July of 1965 when he revealed that 50,000 troops would be sent overseas. In reality, the number was closer to 100,000. Unbeknownst to the public, around 100,000 troops were already stationed in Vietnam participating in offensive actions (Ellsberg). While it had been stated that the conflict would be fought mainly by the South Vietnamese, it was transformed into what can be considered an Americanized war. Likewise in Syria and Iraq, generals and military intelligence are asking for thousands of ground troops to fight ISIS instead of relying mainly on the Kurds, Syrians, or Iraqi troops, as they have proven to be no match for Islamic fighters (Ellsberg).
On the home front, the public seems to have similar opinions on how to deal with these two conflicts. Contrary to popular belief, John F. Kennedy had widespread support in his ambitious goal to achieve peace and democracy in Vietnam. Kennedy wanted to avoid the blame he could receive if he lost the last of South Asia to communism, as his predecessors had. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs, JFK took a confident stance in order to hold his reputation for a successful chance at reelection, and America’s reputation as a global superpower (Neu 52). Neu says in his book, America’s Lost War, “The war in Vietnam was… a war in which Americans confronted a savage enemy in a wilderness landscape and where, it seemed, they could test their character and fulfill their special destiny” (49). Even in the U.S. military, support was strong. One U.S. general remarked early on, “It isn’t much of a war, but it’s the only war we’ve got, so enjoy it. (Neu 4...
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...eir territory. In some areas, they even operate post offices” (Dreazen). Taking the time to implement such sanctions is the United States’ best option, as it fulfills the wishes of the public to keep troops out of Iraq and Syria and has the lowest collateral damage for both sides.
Vietnam is viewed by many to be the biggest mistake made by the United States in the past one hundred years, and because the conflict with ISIS looks uncomfortably similar to the one in Vietnam, steps must be taken to divert the path away from a decade long war and to a new, less violent form of resolution. While the United States is not wrong to intervene in these two countries with a brutal history of oppression and a predisposition for extremism, if the U.S. chooses to do so, it must learn from its unsuccessful past in Vietnam to end the cycle of religious extremism in the Middle East.
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