Is the Iraq war another Vietnam? Case Western Reserve University's Center for Policy Studies will sponsor "Iraq and Vietnam," a series of four free, public talks in January and February to provide varying perspectives of historians, political scientists and military experts to answer that question and compare lessons learned from the past to the situation today.
The series begins on Tuesday, January 24, and continues on Monday, January 30; Wednesday, February 1; to conclude on Thursday, February 2. All talks take place from 4:30-6 p.m. in Case's Thwing Center, 11111 Euclid Ave., except for the January 30th talk in Amasa Stone Chapel, 10900 Euclid Ave. Ample time has been allotted for questions and answers from the audience.
"In the 2004 election, John Kerry made his experience in Vietnam an issue, and it became clear that memories of Vietnam were shaping interpretations of the situation in Iraq," said Joseph White, chair of Case's department of political science and director of the Center for Policy Studies.
White points out that the comparison is very prominent in discussions today: the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs published articles by former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, who argued that "Vietnamization" worked and the U.S. should not give up too soon in Iraq as it had in Vietnam, and by John Mueller from The Ohio State University, a featured speaker in Case's series, on public opinion about both wars.
The "big" question that White hopes the series answers is "what are the consequences of the U.S. staying in or leaving Iraq?" He wants the public to have an opportunity to examine the discussions of Iraq and Vietnam in a neutral setting, allowing individuals to come to their own conclusions about the Iraq situation.
"What You Should Know About the Vietnam War Before Making Comparisons" is the leadoff talk in the series on January 24 and provides background information on the Vietnam War. George C. Herring, alumni professor of history emeritus from the University of Kentucky, will speak. Kenneth Grundy, Case's Marcus Hanna professor emeritus of political science, and Vincent McHale, professor of political science at Case, will respond.
"Combating 'Insurgencies'" continues the discussion January 30 as this program delves into the ways and means of fighting insurgents. Thomas X. Hammes, Colonel (Ret.) U. S. Marine Corps will address the tactics used by or available to the U.S. military in Iraq. Peter W. Moore, Case assistant professor of political science and an expert on Middle East politics, will explain how the nations in the Middle East have coped with their own insurgencies.
The U.S. in Another Nation's War, the program on February 1, will consider whether and how a paradox that the United States confronted in Vietnam—that support from the U.S. delegitimized the governments it sought to uphold—applies to Iraq. Responding to that question will be Stephen D. Biddle, associate professor of national security studies at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute; and Richard Herrman, professor of political science and director of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University.
The International and Domestic Dimensions—the topic for the concluding program on February 2—considers the implications of each war both for broader foreign relations and domestic politics—and vice versa. Kathryn C. Lavelle, Case assistant professor of political science, will address questions such as other nations' interests in the two wars, and ideas about the consequences of outcomes beyond Vietnam's or Iraq's borders. Mueller, the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies and professor of political science at Ohio State, will address, "Vietnam and Iraq: Military Strategies and Public Opinion."
The event is being co-sponsored by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at the Case School of Law and Case's "Share the Vision" Committee. For information, contact White at 216-368-2426 or visit http://www.case.edu/artsci/cps/.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.