A new book by a University of Delaware professor and combat veteran, A Tale of Two Quagmires: Iraq, Vietnam, and the Hard Lessons of War, considers the similarities between the two struggles and the difficulties of the current situation in Iraq, where America finds itself unable to secure a peace and also unable to leave.
The author is Kenneth J. Campbell, UD associate professor of political science and international relations, who saw the quagmire in Vietnam up close and personal during 13 months of service, much spent near enemy lines as a Marine forward artillery observer.
“I returned from Vietnam a changed person,” Campbell writes, adding that he “came home with a hunger to learn more about the politics of war and an obligation, as a survivor, to teach others about my experiences.”
The book, by Paradigm Publishers, opens by framing the debate as to whether there are parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. Campbell looks at both sides and he concludes that “on the most important level, the strategic political level, Iraq and Vietnam are exactly alike.”
He writes, “Both wars were constructed upon, and sustained by, a quicksand of conscious political deception. As such, they were and are quagmires.”
Further, Campbell writes that the United States is destined to lose in Iraq and says the important question now is how much more the nation is prepared to pay. Most Americans turned against the war in Vietnam following the Tet offensive in 1968, he writes, and yet the nation remained at war, absorbing huge losses, for another five years.
The book details Campbell's personal experiences in Vietnam, and his later conversion to “antiwarrior” as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, before chapters that chronicle the processes that led America into Vietnam and Iraq and the lessons we can learn from both conflicts.
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