History Repeating Itself Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1755 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Military

History Repeats Itself is perhaps the saying that most accurately portrays human nature. It is the human tendency not to learn from mistakes, even if these have been repeated numerous times. This certainly appears to be true of the United States Government, regardless of who resides in the position of President. Indeed, the lack of an ability to learn from the past can be clearly demonstrated by highlighting some of the similarities between the Iraqi and Vietnam wars.

Firstly, the most prominent similarity is the public reaction at the various stages of both wars. Initially, both were widely supported by the American public. However, as media coverage revealed the atrocities and injustices of each war, the public outcry became increasingly widespread. Currently, there is increasing support for movements against the Iraqi war on both a national and international scale. The same was true for the Vietnam war, which was also condemned internationally (Rogers).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on History Repeating Itself Assignment

The dynamic that fueled both wars are also interesting. The American government, initiating both wars, had economic interests in both cases. In fact, the government's interest in economic dominance in East Asia, and its interest in Iraqi oil respectively, represent the hidden agenda behind the rhetoric used to justify each war. In the case of Vietnam, public support was gained by claiming that the Vietnam war was initiated with the purpose of eradicating communism, while the justification for the war in Iraq is terrorism. Indeed, according to Georgie Anne Geyer, support was gained for each war by creating a fictional but credible threat. In the case of Iraq, this threat was the alleged nuclear weapons in Iraq, while the case of Vietnam was justified by the threat of the "domino effect" (Ahrari). This refers to the threat of escalating communism if left unchecked within Vietnamese borders. Another related similarity is the fact that American soldiers are sent into both foreign environments without regard for the local culture, or the American impact upon it. In the case of Vietnam, the culture was devastated by the brutality of the American army, while the same is occurring in Iraq.

The Iraqi situation, particularly as it relates to Vietnam, can hold specific significance for the United States of 2007. This is particularly so in terms of the lessons learned from history, cultures intermingling, and the government's tendency to promote half-truths to its public for its own personal gain. Firstly, it is important that not only the government, but also the general public learn lessons from their past. In terms of the government, for example, the public should learn that politicians, especially when it comes to war, tends to take into account its own interest in terms of money and power. This interest then takes precedence over the interests of the public, who relies on the government. If this is recognized, the public can learn from its initial mistakes and not trust the government in the first place when it cries war.

With 9/11, however, the American public was in an emotional state, and much more eager to support its government in its war on the evil of terrorism. This unquestioning loyalty to the government and its cause can therefore be understood with regard to emotionalism. However, when the initial hysteria wore off, it became increasingly clear that the government was engaging in the same deception as with the Vietnam war. The problem is however that the American public still appears remarkably lethargic in its capacity to learn from history.

In terms of culture, the Vietnamese situation also has much to offer. The untruths perpetuated by the government led to great devastation for Vietnam and its citizens. Many innocent casualties were the result, as well as great cultural upheaval. The American Army failed to understand the culture and religion inherent in the country, and all too readily labeled everything they did not understand as communism, hence fighting for the great American cause. Today, with Iraq, the same is true in terms of culture. It is easy for Americans to make the connection between Arab, Muslim and terrorism, because the government fueled the belief in this connection. What the government is however overlooking is the central American principle of tolerance and intercultural respect. These appear to be taking a second position to the all-important war on terrorism. This has occurred to such an extent that the war is even waged within American borders: Arabs and Muslims are mercilessly persecuted not only by the public, but also by official police and protection forces. This smacks of witch-hunting hysteria. If the situation in Vietnam were used to learn from, such brutality would not be perpetrated.

The international community and the press should also take greater responsibility for the effects of the war. Internationally, little has been done to discourage the American war on terrorism. Furthermore, if the media were to be more expository in its presentation of the war and its atrocities not only against the Iraqi army, but also against innocent civilians, the escalation of sentiment against the war might encourage the government to withdraw its troops. The danger of the current situation is the same as it was in Vietnam: violence begets violence. The more atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers, the more dismemberments and executions might be expected from the Iraqi side. And Vietnam has demonstrated that nothing good can come from such a situation.

The basic irony is however that neither the American government nor the public has learned anything from the Vietnam situation. Indeed, according to Geyer, one could almost see the same situation repeating itself. American soldiers are brutally beating down doors and invading homes, like they did in Vietnam. They do this without regard for the local culture or citizens' right to privacy and safety in their own homes. They impose their own culture upon the Iraqi citizens without any regard or respect for the local people. Like Vietnam, this has an exhausting effect upon the local culture and its citizens. The only difference is that the situation and those involved have become much more brutal than the case was in Vietnam. Media displays of beheadings and the like also distorts the balance between violence perpetrated by Americans and the Iraqi response to this violence. In the end, finding the origin of the violence is no longer important. Instead, perceived violence is avenged by ever-more extreme acts of murder and torture. And all this is sanctified under the government's perpetuation of myths that are all too readily accepted by a public that hysterically holds on to the flimsiest of justifications.

Another interesting factor is that neither the Vietnamese nor the Iraqi people wanted a war. They were both acts of aggression perpetrated by an American government that gained support by convincing its citizens that there is no better way to rid the world of the respective evils of communism and terrorism.

Pajer Rogers suggests that false connections have been made in the Iraqi war between Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, the threat of global terrorism and al-Qaeda terrorist groups. As in Vietnam, the government offers the public an excuse to perpetuate their already escalated fear. This is all based upon the events during 9/11, which provided the government with a good excuse to begin their war in Iraq. One could argue that the events during 9/11 have clouded the American public's judgment and made them unable to think critically about the war and its justification.

This is the crux of the problem. The general lack of critical judgment with regard to the American government that started the Vietnam war is the same lack that is now perpetuating the Iraqi war, as well as the many unjustified cases of prejudice currently pervading in the country. The most important implication for the American public is two-fold. The public should firstly developing greater critical thinking skills, and learn to separate emotion from truth. Secondly, the public should remember the importance of the Constitution: that every person, regardless of race, is to be treated with respect. Every person has human rights, and every person is innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around. These are the most important lessons that can be learned both from Vietnam and Iraq. It should also be recognized that both the Iraqi and Vietnam wars are losing battles, where all parties lose much more than what they gain.

In terms of critical thinking, citizens should learn both from Vietnam and Iraq that statements by the government should not be taken at face value. While the Iraq situation demonstrates that neither the government nor the public has learned from the situation in Vietnam, the Iraq war can perhaps serve as a lesson in history.

In terms of the constitution, critical thinking also plays a role. Rather than assuming that all persons belonging to a certain race or religion are terrorists or communists, citizens should learn to question. They should recognize persons from all races and religions as people first rather than in terms of their particular… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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