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History Essay: Iraq War and the Vietnam War

The War in Iraq and the Vietnam War arguably are the most famous examples of the involvement of American troops that became a subject of debates. Both conflicts had caused much criticism of the actions of the US military, especially, the US foreign policy. In both cases, there has been an adverse reaction among the Americans regarding the war. The paper will discuss the reasons for these military involvements and their influence on the US as a world power.

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Both wars were partly caused by the contemporary US foreign policies. According to the Truman Doctrine, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures” (Truman, 1947). Initially, it was the situation in Greece which prompted the US to declare such intentions. Howler, later, the policy became applicable to virtually any region where the US saw a communist threat. When the North Vietnam sought to unite two parts of the country, it was ultimately the desire of the US government to keep the communist from gaining control over the South Vietnam. According to the National Security Strategy of 2002, “We make [the US makes] no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them.” Despite the alleged possession of the weapons of mass destruction, a substantial part of this decision was the connection of Iraq with international terrorism. The United States had condemned Hussein’s unconditional support for terrorist cells. Therefore, it was imperative for the Bush Administration that Iraq stopped aiding the jihadists ("A Decade of Deception and Defiance," 2002).

The opposition from the American public was severe in both cases. During the Vietnam War the military draft in America was mandatory. Thus, many citizens protested against the idea that people had to travel to another country without any choice, and fight the enemy against who they had no strong animosity. There is no enforced conscription in the United States in the 21st century. Therefore, there was not an issue during the Iraq War. Instead, criticism of the invasion plan itself (not the decision) includes an observation that a sustainable peace in Iraq required three times more men than the coalition actually deployed (Quinlivan, 2003).

The aftermath of both wars for the US position as a world power was rather unsettling. The Vietnam War had made it impossible for the US to consider military actions against the communist block as a feasible option. Then, the US government understood that they were not able to enforce their strategy despite the obstacles that had arisen. The Iraq War has shown that America cannot assume that countries unconditionally adopt democracy and stabilize once the oppressive regimes dissolve. In addition, the international community started to question the unilateral character of the US military operations.

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These conflicts are the examples of the foreign policies failure in both eras since they have shown that the direct fulfillment of the adopted principles can lead to devastating results. The experience of the United States in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War had been damaging not only to the country’s international efforts to support peace and prosperity but also to America itself, as the society became more and more divided. The situation with the US military was arguably more prepared for the Iraq War than the Vietnam War. However, both conflicts proved the hidden implication of full-scale military involvement of the American troops.

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