Danny Schecter, Media Channel
1. Both wars were illegal acts of pre-emptive aggression unsanctioned by
international law or world opinion.
2. Both wars were launched with deception. In Iraq it was the now proven phony WMD threat and contrived
Saddam-Osama connection. In Vietnam, it was the fabricated Gulf of
Tonkin incident and the elections mandated by the Geneva agreement that
were canceled by Washington in l956 when the U.S. feared Ho Chi Minh
3. The government lied regularly in both wars. Back then, the lies were pronounced a "credibility gap." Today, they are
considered acceptable "information warfare." In Saigon military briefers
conducted discredited "5 O'Clock Follies" press conferences. In this
war, the Pentagon spoon-fed info at a Hollywood style briefing center in Doha.
4. The U.S. press was initially an enthusiastic cheerleader in both wars. When Vietnam protest grew and the war seen as a lost cause, the media
frame changed. In Iraq today most of the media is trapped in hotel
rooms. Only one side is covered now whereas in Vietnam, there was more
reporting occasionally from the other. In Vietnam, the accent was on
progress and "turned corners." The same is true in Iraq.
5. In both wars, prisoners were abused. . .
6. Illegal weapons were "deployed" in both wars. The U.S. dropped napalm, used cluster bombs against civilians and
sprayed toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam. Cluster bombs and updated Mark 77
napalm-like firebombs were dropped on Iraqis. Depleted uranium was added
to the arsenal of prohibited weapons in Iraq.
7. Both wars claimed to be about promoting democracy. Vietnam staged elections and saw a succession of governments controlled
by the U.S. come and go. Iraq has had one election so far in which most
voters say they were casting ballots primarily to get the U.S. to leave.
The U.S. has stage-managed Iraq's interim government. Exiles were
brought back and put in power. Vietnam's Diem came from New Jersey,
Iraq's Allawi from Britain.
8. Both wars claimed to be about noble international goals. Vietnam was pictured as a crusade against aggressive communism and
falling dominos. Iraq was sold as a front in a global war on terrorism. Neither claim proved true.
9. An imperial drive for resource control and markets helped drive both
Vietnam had rubber and manganese and rare minerals. Iraq has oil. In both wars, any economic agenda was officially denied and ignored by
most media outlets.
10. Both wars took place in countries with cultures we never understood or
spoke the language.
Both involved "insurgents" whose military prowess was underestimated and
misrepresented. In Vietnam, we called the "enemy" communists; in Iraq we
call them foreign terrorists. (Soldiers had their own terms, "gooks" in
Vietnam, "ragheads" in Iraq) In both counties, they was in fact an indigenous resistance that enjoyed
popular support. (Both targeted and brutalized people they considered collaborators with
the invaders just as our own Revolution went after Americans who backed
the British.) In both wars, as in all wars, innocent civilians died in droves.
11. In both countries the U.S. promised to help rebuild the damages caused
by U.S. bombing. In Vietnam, a $2 Billion presidential reconstruction pledge was not
honored. In Iraq, the electricity and other services are still out in
many areas. In both wars U.S. companies and suppliers have profited
handsomely; Brown &Root in Vietnam; Halliburton in Iraq, to cite but two.
12. In Vietnam, the Pentagon's counter-insurgency effort failed to "pacify"
the countryside even with a half a million U.S. soldiers "in country." The insurgency in Iraq is growing despite the best efforts of U.S.
soldiers. More have died since President Bush proclaimed "mission
accomplished" than during the invasion. The insurgency in Iraq is
growing despite the best efforts of U.S. soldiers. More have died since President Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished"
than during the invasion.
The Vietnamese forced the U.S. into negotiations for the Paris Peace
Agreement. When the agreement was continually violated, they brilliantly
staged a final offensive that surprised and routed a superior
million-man Saigon Army. Can the Iraqi resistance do the same?