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Book compares fight in 'Nam to Iraq

Book review

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POSTED: April 19, 2007 5:00 a.m.
One of the newest books at the Live Oak Public Library is “A Tale of Two Quagmires — Iraq, Vietnam and the Hard Lessons of War.”
The author, Kenneth J. Campbell, offers his book because he says he was dissatisfied with the quality of the debate over the comparison of Vietnam and Iraq: “It seemed to me that those arguing the most passionately against the Vietnam analogy often knew the least about Vietnam.”
Campbell writes from the perspective of his 13 months in Vietnam as a forward artillery observer and his 30 years of subsequent study. He is now associate professor of political science and international relations and director of the international relations program at the University of Delaware.
At the time of Campbell’s doctoral dissertation on Vietnam, he says, only one other dissertation was done on the subject: “The American military and the lessons of Vietnam,” a 1987 work by David Petraeus, a major whom the Army was sending through graduation school at Princeton. Now a lieutenant general, Petraeus is commander of American forces in Iraq.
Campbell defines and discusses quagmires and offers brief views of different sides of the issue with sections entitled, “No, Iraq is not Vietnam,” and “Yes, Iraq is Vietnam.” A convert to Vietnam Veterans Against War, Campbell concludes that the United States will likely be entangled in Iraq into the administration of the next president and will have difficulty pulling out even then. He holds out a slender hope, however, that a broad-based coalition of “wise men and women” such as existed shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, could lead us out of a bloody stalemate.
One of the wise men, William Odom, retired general and former director of the National Security Agency summarizes a strategy: “Cut and run? You bet.”
Campbell’s text is only 99 pages, meticulously footnoted, and is worth an interested reader’s attention.
The Live Oak Library purchased “A Tale of Two Quagmires,” at a customer’s request and can frequently provide books customers want.
The library is at 236 Memorial Drive, phone 912-368-4003 and on the web at http://www.liveoakpl.org. There is also a Midway/Riceboro branch at 1165 Martin Road in Midway.
 

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