Iraq and Vietnam: Lessons from two wars

Wednesday, December 3, 2003


BRISBANE — The current US occupation of Iraq has "great parallels with the US war on Vietnam" in the 1960s and 1970s, Gary MacLennan, Queensland University of Technology lecturer and radical scholar, told a forum held at the Brisbane Activist Centre on November 26.

The US invaders now face "full-scale guerrilla resistance", MacLennan told the forum, which was sponsored by the central/northern branch of the Socialist Alliance. While the US and coalition casualties are relatively small compared to Vietnam, their impact among the troops and at home in the US were very damaging to the US government.

Like the Vietnam War, the Iraq conflict is "an anti-imperialist struggle", MacLennan added. "Imperialism", a word which had gone out of favour in recent years, is now being put back on the agenda by the right wing, who now openly talk about the "US imperial century".

For peace activists, the "nature of our task is clear — we want imperialism defeated", MacLennan said.

MacLennan supported the Socialist Alliance putting its energies into building a new, mass peace movement against the foreign occupation of Iraq.

Veteran anti-war activist Jim McIlroy outlined a series of comparisons and contrasts between the US-led war on Iraq and the Vietnam War.

The reasons for both wars were to consolidate US imperialist domination of the world, in different historical and economic conditions, but with the common aim of crushing any challenge by Third World peoples to US hegemony.

McIlroy said that the main, successful strategy of the anti-Vietnam War movement was to mobilise broad, mass actions around the key demand "Bring the troops home now!". A similar strategy is needed today against the occupation of Iraq, he concluded.

From Green Left Weekly, December 3, 2003.

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