The new year has seen an escalation of dramatic proportions in the middle east. The killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike has pushed the two nations close to the brink. Thousands of US troops have been moved into the area in preparation for possible military action.
President Trump insisted that the drone strike was pre-emptive in order to prevent any sinister actions being carried out by Iran, yet Homeland Security maintained they would be on standby should any threat from Tehran be identified.
If this tension does escalate into an all out war, then Iran could become the Vietnam of the 21st century. In 1965 when US troops first landed in Da Nang on the east coast of Vietnam, they did so under the gauze that they were there to help prevent the spread of communism from the Chinese and Soviet backed North Vietnamese. It was expected to be a sweeping victory for the western power, yet it took the lives of 64,000 American men for Washington to see that it was an unwinnable war for America.
The way warfare is fought may have changed since US marines were fighting in the rice paddies of south east Asia, but the mindset could be very similar. A fight in a faraway country for reasons unknown to the vast population, it sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Vietnam was a conflict which most of the USA’s allies made a statement of by not getting involved. In order to keep any war situation to a minimum then it will be vital for history to repeat itself.
Whatever President Trump says, he has pushed the world closer to a war which it doesn’t need. By killing a man who has been a significant figure within Iran for decades, he has given a point of anger and national pride for Iranians to rally behind. If they didn’t have an excuse to dislike the USA before, they certainly do now.
Both Iran and USA have said that they are prepared for whatever the other side may do. President Trump could end up taking America to war in a year which ends in an election. The war in Vietnam outlasted three Presidents, a war in Iran could be the making of just one for the American people of 2020.
The problem Trump may have is that he will be the President who rallied others to fight and die for their country but got himself out of the draft for Vietnam 50 years ago. Whether or not enough Americans look past this could be a deciding factor in Trump being in the White House next year.
A war in Iran could have far more serious consequences for the planet than Vietnam, mainly due to the far more advanced weaponry and heightened tensions across the far east. Yet the issues with sending troops far away to fight in a land which few would know much about is one similarity between the two. There may not be the recruitment drive which Vietnam required, yet Trump will know that he will have hundreds and thousands of soldiers at his army’s disposal.
The excuses for war will never change. More than likely we will see bombs dropped on poor, innocent civilians. In Vietnam, it was carpet bombing of farmers. In Iran, it would be more of the same.
The First World War was labelled as the war to end all wars. As a matter of fact, it was simply the first war in which world leaders realised the financial gain of mechanised slaughter. Almost every generation has had a war of this kind.
It hasn’t always been on the same scale, but the conflicts of the 20th century have shaped the world and those living in it. Years in the future, America’s ‘Iran’ could have the same social and political influence as the war in Vietnam, both at home and abroad.