Why Did the Iraq War Differ from the Vietnam War?

On March 20, 2003, British and American soldiers launched the assault on Iraqi Freedom, a massive military assault against Iraq. After hearing reports that Iraq had WMD and was secretly aiding terrorists, the United States decided to go to war with Iraq without consulting the United Nations.

This military operation, commonly referred to as the Second Gulf War, unmistakably carried forth the legacy of conflict and geopolitics from the First Gulf War. The United States military remained in Iraq for seven years before finally pulling out in August 2010.

The much-discussed WMDs ultimately proved elusive, and Saddam’s administration destroyed any evidence that may have prevented the war from being won on that basis. All U.S. soldiers left Iraqi soil on December 18, 2011, bringing an end to this chapter.

How Iraq avoided repeating the mistakes of Vietnam

Why Did the Iraq War Differ from the Vietnam War?

Investigating the complex dynamics that set the Iraq War apart from the Vietnam War’s shadow uncovers the myriad of causes that contributed to the two conflicts’ contrasting results. Many people worried that the war in Iraq would follow the same tragic pattern as the Vietnam War, but numerous factors set it on a different path.

One, having little support and being alone

Iraq, in contrast to Vietnam, had no significant international support. Conversely, Vietnam was bolstered in its ability to engage in protracted conflict by the support it received from the former Soviet Union and northern nations. Without a strong ally, Iraq’s military was no match for the massive international coalition it faced.

Horrifying Power Dynamics and Precedent

After the first Gulf War, the U.S.-led coalition troops would never forget the deadly reputation the Iraqi army had earned. Conversely, Vietnam had never before faced the superior military strength of the United States until the Vietnam War. Vietnam had a tactical advantage over Iraq because of the unexpectedness and strangeness of the situation.

Loss of Skilled Personnel

As a result of losing so many of its best soldiers in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, Iraq’s armed forces entered the Iraq War severely depleted. On the other hand, the Viet Cong army’s resilience was a product of its high morale and formidable fighting ability, both of which peaked during the Vietnam War.

Difficulties in the Environment and Tactics

While the primarily forested topography of Vietnam supported defensive operations, the terrain of Iraq made strategic moves easier for the U.S. coalition’s armored forces. Vietnam’s harsh environment hindered American offensives, whereas Iraq’s broad landscape was conducive to the use of heavy equipment by the coalition.

 Declining Spirit and Disunity

Problems arose for the Iraqi army as a result of discord among the public and low morale within the armed forces. Saddam’s betrayal and subsequent death emphasized this discord. On the other hand, the Vietnamese people banded together to resist the U.S.-led coalition, which they were able to force to depart from the country.

Multiple Possible Conclusions

When the U.S.-led coalitions in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War are compared, a story of quite different outcomes emerges. A number of interrelated factors influenced these results, and the author argues that campaigning for war leads to disastrous outcomes, such as heavy losses and economic declines, as well as post-war instability that continues to roil a number of places. As a result, a rallying cry goes out for countries to exercise caution and promote constructive negotiations to resolve issues, therefore reducing the chaos that wars inevitably bring.