Nation & World

Vietnam and Iraq: Some parallels

Troop increases

Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, like President George W. Bush, hoped that adding troops would turn a civil war around. Military escalation was Johnson's answer to attacks by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, with some 545,000 combat troops in place by 1968. Similarly, Bush's hope for the additional 28,000 troops he has sent is for a downturn in the insurgency.


Nixon's 1970s program to arm and train South Vietnam's forces to take care of their country's security is similar to Bush's plan to train the Iraqi military to do the same.


Johnson called 1960s dissenters 'nervous Nellies.' Nixon allegedly went even further by secretly encouraging public attacks on anti-war activists, whom he considered traitors. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have labeled them defeatists and warn that listening to dissenters will lead to disaster.

U.S. credibility

Many in the Bush administration have warned that defeat in Iraq would undermine American credibility on the world stage. Johnson and Nixon said a quick exit from Vietnam would hurt the United States' standing abroad.