Why did the US not learn a few key critical lessons from the Iraq War from the Vietnam War?

It seems like the only key lesson the US learned from Vietnam that applies to Iraq is

"Don't take of your anger of your war out on the troops fighting it."

A few things we should have learned

1. Do NOT go to war when you don't fully understand the culture of the people you're going to war with.

2. You cannot base success or progress off of how many enemies you have killed.

3. You cannot win wars with politically correct rules of engagement. All they do is give the enemy a huge advantage.

4. When the enemy uses guerilla warfare and hides among civilians you can lose the war without losing a single battle.

5. Never understimate the will of your enemy, regardless of how weak they seem.

6. You can defeat the enemy's military very easily, but still lose the occupation.

7. If the war seems like it will be a piece of cake, it probably won't.


Typo-I meant "for the Iraq War from the Vietnam War".

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Okay... if you want to compare Vietnam and Iraq.... LET'S!

    Iraq - captured Baghdad, Vietnam- never captured Hanoi


    Iraq - captured Saddam, VN - Never captured Ho Chi Min


    Iraq - leader sentenced in a court of law for war crimes, VN - see above


    Iraq - megalomaniac leader and sons killed VN - see above


    Iraq - VAST majority of Iraqi's support new government, VN - even South Vietnamese didn't support their own corrupt govn't, much less the North Vietnamese


    Vietnam - major nuclear power (China) rearming and resupplying VC and NVA as well as preventing expansion of the war, Iraq - no such Super power supporting or resupplying Al Queda and the insurgents (perhaps Iran, but not in comparable numbers as China)


    Iraq - now building a functioning democratically elected government, Vietnam - not quite


    Iraq - most Iraqi citizens are against the insurgents, Vietnam - populace was ambivalent at the least, antagonistic at best


    Majority of Iraqi states are currently pacified, at no time did we pacify any of the states in North Vietnam


    Oh! Yes! So many comparisons! Please elucidate us further with your profound comparisons of 2 totally different conflicts.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hello here are my responses to your statements, numbered the same.

    1. In Vietnam we went to protect democracy in South Vietnam at the request of their governmenr. When we went to Iraq we went to get Saddam who was a war criminal for the genocides he commited and to find the WMDs. However with the WMDs he had plenty of warning we were coming and was able to dispose of them.

    2. In Iraq we have been very successful. The Iraqi's are experienceing freedoms many have never had under Saddams regeim. Don't follow what the media shows on tv. They show the stories that will bring the most reaction, however they fail to show the progress we have done. In Vietnam, we could have been very successful however the fear was in order to achieve overall success could have triggered an all out war so the politicians did not let our military fight the war.

    3. Rules of Engagment were set up to protect the innocent. The US military follows them the best they can, however at times, civilians do die. This does not give the enemy a huge advantage, however it does hinder your options when it comes to engaging them. Plus everytime a single civilian is killed there is outrage, but it is never mentioned the poor civilian was killed because the enemy ran and hid among them.

    4. Most of Iraq is a safe place. There are placed that are dangerous, but even the USA has these places within its own borders. I relate the enemy in Iraq to gangs in the USA. They walk around in plain site yet hide amongst friends and family. However while the enemy is using guerilla warfare, it is nothing like in Vietnam. In Iraq the enemy is using more of Urban warfare then Guerilla.

    5. The Military does not underestimate them.

    6. How are we losing the occupation?

    7. Going into Iraq the USA knew it was not going to be easy. They didn't think it was going to be this difficult however they didn't think it was going to be a walk in the park either.

  • 1 decade ago

    1.) I may sound a little rude here, but what do we need to understand a culture for? A war is simple and culture does not need to be understood to fight it. You point a gun at someone, pull the trigger, and hope that you do that more accurately then they do.

    2.) Frankly, you can. We did lose the Vietnam War because we got out of Dodge before our goal was accomplished, but who had the bigger loses? That's really all that matters. Americans lost 50,000+, the NVA and Viet Cong lost over a million. (Granted, the South Vietnamese Army lost a half a million.) I'm not sure what the figures in Iraq are, but I would say that we are kicking *** and taking names. The news only chooses to report the American deaths.

    3.) Yes, but you cannot wage a war without the support of the American population, something that we discovered in Vietnam. Do you think the general population in America would be fine if President Bush just came on TV and said, "We are going to kill whoever we want to kill." We have to look like the better killers in this war (which we are) in order to keep the support of the people.

    4.) In this regard, I'll tip the hat. But, short of killing any civilian you expect has a bomb, how are we to defend against this?

    5.) Never underestimate the will of the Americans!

    6.) This is true, but in Vietnam we never defeated the Army, per se. And we have no real army to fight in Iraq.

    7.) War in Iraq never seemed like piece of cake.

  • jimmyd
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I can care less if it was a basket of eggs we were fighting over! One answerer states that it's the government's greed for oil. Nonsense! It is the consumer's greed for oil, and it is therefore an economic asset, and if that's what I went to Iraq for twice.... then fine!

    Please tell me that 'sonic' has nothing made of plastic in their house, or does not drive a car, or take public transportation, or use paint, or has a garden hose or anything else made of petrolium based materials around and in use on a daily basis! We all use these products!

    Back to 'casting the first stone' so to speak! At least I don't kid myself. I go there (or anywhere) because others won't! I care about our interests either political or economic. Wars have started for a hell of a lot less in history, and I suggest you study yours.

    I can tell you that kids play outside more often because their parents no longer worry from fear of their own government over there.

    There is so much more to the war in Iraq than you can fathom, so just go to bed safely tonight and dream of new ways to bash the government that provides you the protection to do so, then condemn the means by which it's provided. You're lucky...you have had that luxury your whole life!

    Sweet dreams sweetheart!

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well if you actually studied history INCLUDING the key figures in a given time period/event, you would know that the biggest lesson to be learned from Vietnam is that the American people defeated themselves. What do I mean? General Giap, the commander of North Vietnam's military, noted that the north had lost its will to fight and was on the verge of giving up until the American anti war movement gained steam and the north realized they didnt need to defeat the US, they just needed to hit and run and avoid massive casualties until the anti war movement forced a US withdrawal- The leader of the enemies army would know what made his people hang on- whether some Americans want to admit to their role is irrelevent.

    In 1998 Osama Bin Laden gave an interview to ABC news in which he said the American people and its leaders lacked the will and resolve to fight and this was how he knew he could defeat it. He pointed to the scramble out of Lebanon and retreat from Somalia as well as the total lack of real response to his multiple attacks in the 1990s as evidence- the leader of the enemy force would know what motivates him.

    Today in Iraq the insurgents see a divided nation that has seen half its people buy into a line that a success is actually a defeat and that the stability of that nation is of no consequence- they know, as Bin Laden does and Giap did, that the American people will deliver a victory to the enemy simply because they lack the will and resolve to fight (or support those that actually do)

    You dont want to learn that lesson but it is the lesson to learn according to our enemies

    Source(s): veteran and historian
  • John R
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I once had an Argument with an History Professor over " History Repeating itself"!!!!! Boy was she Mad, it was in Open Class and I won!!!! She made the statement that History Repeats Itself and I Corrected Her Immediately in front of God and Everyone in the Class. As a Country, we did Learn from the Viet Nam War!!! You see, History does Not Repeat Itself as the Professor Claimed!!! Fools, However, Continue to Make The Same Mistakes!!!!! Unfortunately for the Citizens of the USA, we have Fools in a Position to Make The Same Mistakes!!!!!!

    Source(s): Just My Opinion.
  • 1 decade ago

    There are too many differences in the wars to compare them...Vietnam could have been over in a few months were it not for slow politicians and red tape...this war is much more complicated but much less difficult...this is one of those time things...if you wont commit long term to this it wont work but if you commit it will work outstandingly

  • 1 decade ago

    The Military did learn a lot of lessons...

    The Poloticians still haven't...

    they are still trying to micro manage a war from the

    Halls of Congress, State Dept and the White House...

    If the Military had their way it would have

    been over years ago...

    Source(s): Retired Marine...
  • Oracle
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    We're currently paying taxes for $300,000 worth of cigarettes each month for prisoners we're holding in Iraq. Does a country that will do that have a government with enough sense to win a war? You tell me. Those type of politicians aren't capable of caring about our fighters.

  • 1 decade ago

    But we did learn not to blame the troops so that when they return we should have compassion for the hell they have endured, regardless of the fact they should not have been sent over there.

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