Overheard on CNN.com: Some find parallels between Iraq, Vietnam
A U.S. Army soldier arriving in Kuwait after a final departure from Iraq last week.
December 15th, 2011
03:37 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Some find parallels between Iraq, Vietnam

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

vikingslost: "Welcome home Soldiers. May you find comfort and peace in the days and years ahead. America and its people are deeply indebted to you for your sacrifice and service. We love you and your families all. God Bless America."

gomezaddams2: "Thank you to all the soldiers for telling your stories. It really touches my heart to hear all of your experiences. I don't have any answers. But I wish you serenity and love."

An understated ceremony Thursday in Baghdad marked the end of the war in Iraq, nearly nine years since it started. More than 4,500 American troops have died in Iraq since 2003, as well as hundreds of troops from other coalition forces, and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Readers debated the ins and outs of the war with their comments, and thanked the troops for their service.

In their own words: 8 lives changed by the Iraq War

Readers read through eight iReporters' accounts of the Iraq war and lamented the perils of combat. They also debated the value of the soldiers' contributions. Most seemed to agree that regardless of their views on war, they would thank the soldiers. A few compared Iraq to Vietnam. Some commenters were connected to the military, if not soldiers themselves.

kingofhilll2: "Eight lives changed? These people are lucky to make it out alive. What about the lives of those families that lost their loved ones in the Iraq conflict? Those lives changed more then than anyone's. Also what about those of us who were injured medically discharged and can't get a job because no one wants to hire us. However, I am glad they made it back but unfortunately a lot of my friends did not, because they made the ultimate sacrifice."

iarif: "kingofhilll2, what about millions of people in Iraq whose life was made hell by yours' and U.S. government actions and decisions. No respect for those who killed the helpless humans in Iraq. Go tell your stories outside of U.S. and you will know how much hated you guys are."

kingofhilll2: "The decisions to invade Iraq and do our job was not ours. It was the government's. Dont sit here and say by "your" actions. When we were ordered to do something we do it. If you spent any time in the military you would know. When we first arrived in Baghdad for the first time in Iraq people loved us. I like the people there and our unit took care of a lot of sick children that were sick not from the war but previously before we entered. We did a lot of good things for that country. There would have been a lot less blood shed if it was not for the insurgency that came to Iraq. We were there to help the people of Iraq to have a better life.

Some soldiers where very angry, while others felt they had gone for a just cause.

chopman: "I went in during 2003. I saw all the intelligence reports. For those who say there were no WMDs, you don't know what you don't know. Look at the photos of the troops during the invasion. We're all wearing green, those are the chem suits. We expected chem attacks. Also, everyone forgets that Saddam was paying $25,000 to any suicide bomber in Israel. Tensions were very high. The anthrax attacks and 9/11 were still fresh. I don't believe I was lied to. I believe we went in for the right reasons. I pray the Iraqi people are worthy of the sacrifice we made for them, but I doubt it."

The wife of a veteran called on people to treat the troops with respect.

BrittaTaylor: "I remember when the war started, I, too, was against it, and I never really stood for it, despite my falling in love with a vet and marrying him. I come from a very anti-war family and I suppose it was just a coincidence. He is a great guy, despite his short temper and love for war movies. That said, I have learned, albeit gradually, to respect our troops. Regardless of what you think about the United States' reasons for going into Iraq, you have to think of what all these men and women sacrificed, and all the time with their families they'll never get back. They may be home, but it's still going to be an uphill battle. The civilian lifestyle is so appallingly different, and jobs are not easy to find these days. From an outsider's perspective I have learned that as much as people preach about honoring the troops, and cover their cars with yellow ribbon stickers - the truth is, they don't understand. If you haven't been there, you'll never understand. The reintegration is going to be difficult. Sometimes it takes a long time for a veteran to be able to enjoy something as simple as fireworks - something the rest of us take for granted. So please, limit your comments online. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion, but there is never any reason to be rude to a veteran. Real people read this stuff. Be respectful."

One veteran of the Vietnam War said what soldiers in the recent wars have experienced is nothing new.

windriverjoh: "I'm tired of hearing these veterans complain about everything and anything. I'm a combat Marine and served as a squad lead in Vietnam. I volunteered for Vietnam and the Marines, just like my uncles, great uncles, grandfather, etc. Forty years later, I find that my country poisioned me with Agent Orange. Quite blaming others for your problems, everyone has got them. It's how you deal. So shut up and deal."

Indeed, many veterans chimed in to explain how they were feeling, watching the Iraq war end.

UrukHai: "I know as a veteran, that you rarely get to fight the war you want. History tells us that, too. People who believe it's the good guys vs. the bad guys have been watching too much TV. War is sloppy. War changes things, but it doesn't mean it changes things for the better."

There were a lot of comparisons to the Vietnam War among our commenters, although their sentiments varied quite a bit.

RR77: "They are all volunteers nowadays. Think what it did to all the ones back in the day when they drafted them to war. And then to be welcomed backed as baby killers. Vietnam for one."

mas360: "Americans quickly forgot or even bother to learn about our experience in Vietnam. The war in Iraq was waged on lies and deception at the expense of American taxpayers dollar and the lives of American citizens in the lower social echelon who served. The upper social class stay out of the all-volunteer army. Had the draft been in place, this bogus war would not have dragged on for nine years to cause that much damage to the U.S .as well as to the millions of Iraqis. We replaced Saddam with a dubious govt which is no less corrupt than Saddam. Time will tell, but I am quite convinced without American military muscles on ground, the U.S.-backed govt in Iraq today will either drift over to the other side or to immigrate to the US as refugees within the next few years."

A lot of readers talked about the scars of war that may never go away.

TechnoViking: "The truth is that many of these young men went to Iraq as normal people, unfortunately came back changed men. I know someone close to me that was in the infantry for the first three years of the unlawful invasion and the images continue to haunt him. I'm under one roof with the man and the nightmares continue after all these years. Wake up in the middle of the night and scream from top of the lungs on top of other scary stuff. This is insane that human mentality is wasted by idiotic and selfish decisions of the Governments."

This commenter asked that we find ways to help soldiers heal, regardless of views on Iraq.

lortt123: "Whether you agree or disagree with the Iraq war is not the main point. The point is that we have thousands of young (and not so young) people who served there, gave their best, and are now returning home and experiencing pain and suffering. These vets gave their best for all of us, believing in what they were doing that it would make a difference. Now we need to be there for THEM. Our government and all of us owe them a debt for putting their lives on the line for our country, so that we can all continue to enjoy the freedoms that we do. We must ensure they come home to support: homes, jobs, families, therapy and marital counseling so they can reestablish their lives upon return."

Muted ceremony marks end of Iraq war

Make no mistake about it, the news of the day stoked powerful feelings among our commenters. They debated the motivations for the Iraq war as well as the way it was handled and how it ended.

Some readers questioned the motivation for ending the Iraq war now, saying they thought President Obama arranged for the troop withdrawal to coincide with the 2012 election. Others responded by saying they believed Obama was merely following the 2011 withdrawal deadline originally established by former President George W. Bush. Here's one example:

whosurdaddy: "Why didn't the U.S. leave three years ago? Oh right, election coming next year."

D1Puck1T: "Because this was the timetable set by Bush, and Obama wasn't very successful in changing it, in part due to our terrible image in the region. You want to knock Obama for not being a better negotiator and PR guy, go ahead, but implying that this is happening now because of the election is hogwash. This is the date that was set by Bush."

Some said they thought President Obama should have spoken out against the war, and others were saying that the president may have had few options.

Bebito500: "Incredible how politicians can be of double standards. What Obama should have said is: 'We did this because we were trying to control cheap oil for the well being of our nation.' The least he can do to honor those who died in this mission is to admit the truth!"

TimGreer: "Obama didn't start this war. How is it a double standard? What's he supposed to do, talk down about the country he is the president of? Of course it was wrong, but Obama didn't start it and then say what he did. Albeit, I agree he maybe should have had a different message there."

Many commenters defended the Iraq war, saying soldiers accomplished a lot of good things during their duty.

irish33: "Big thanks to the U.S. Military for doing a wonderful job ridding this world of a cruel dictator and protecting our great nation in the process! May God bless the soldiers who were wounded or killed in battle and their families. Thank you George W. Bush for protecting the United States of America!"

As in the prior story, there were comparisons to the Vietnam War.

Chichetr: "Have we learned nothing? This entire war was a horrible tragedy, a virtual repeat of Vietnam. Imagine the families that were destroyed by both sides. Fatherless children, motherless children, sons who left, never to return. I can't even begin to realize the emotional trauma of those who survived this as well. My father fought in Vietnam from 1968-1969 and was absolutely destroyed by what happened to him. He really is a shadow of his former self. We have yet again created another destroyed generation. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this war, on both sides. May the dead rest in peace and may the survivors find peace."

There were commenters who wondered what we had left behind in Iraq.

sterlingar22: "We entered a country that was functioning ok despite the plethora of sanctions. Removed a murderous dictator but also destroyed their infrastructure and killed thousand of people. It cost us an arm and a leg, soldiers died, kids with no fathers. Now, they're a chaotic country filled with sectarian hatred that will harbor terrorists. I bet they're really happy."

RationalDoc: "This legacy of Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney has changed the world ... for the worse. We now have more 5-year-old Arab boys growing up hating us around the globe than ever, and that is a price we will be paying for in many, many years ahead."

Some took a bleak take on the situation at home.

germantank99: "Troops, welcome home! Welcome home to unemployment and no health care. While you were in Iraq, your girlfriends have run away with some other guys. And the banks have foreclosed your dads' homes coz they have lost their jobs. Your neighbours are gone too. You can find them sleeping in the park."

I'm grateful my husband served in Afghanistan, not Iraq

Most of the commenters had very strong opinions about this story by Army wife and blogger Rebekah Sanderlin. Many said they did not agree with the assertion that serving in one war could be preferable to another.

Solomon89JC: "I'm surprised the author feels that veterans of Iraq should somehow feel ashamed of their participation. The war was definitely contr0versial and while I personally think it was misguided, that doesn't detract from the tremendous sacrifice of the veterans who participated in it. Furthermore, I'm not so sure history will reflect we 'won' Afghanistan, either. I default to the advice I've always given my soldiers. Don't worry about the politics of why you're here, just do your mission, take care of your buddies, and try to get home in one piece."

Other readers said that both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were failures. Once again, Vietnam comparisons appeared.

sosueme9: "I am sorry to tell you that history will find your husband's war as tragic and ultimately pointless as the war in Iraq. Both will be found to massive failures when the very people you feared are firmly in power in both nations."

NikkiNouse: "Sadly, you're right. Both wars will be viewed like Vietnam. No American has criticized or looked shamefully upon the soldiers regardless of where they fought but criticism of the politicians who chose to invade with no regard to the probable ending is fair."

A Vietnam vet wrote to thank the soldiers who fought in Iraq.

ranger4ever: "Since I was never welcomed home when I returned wounded from Vietnam, I would like to extend my hand in gratitude and welcome all the Iraqi veterans back home and say thank you! Mission accomplished and a job well done! Regardless what John McCain says! He is not a spokesman for Vietnam combat veterans."

Iamleagion: "ranger4ever, thank you for your service. I am glad you made it back home. I am proud of your service. God bless you and sorry that the nation failed you and should have given you a proper return homecoming."

Perhaps most haunting was a brutally honest account of military life from an Iraq war veteran.

GldnDragn: "I was deployed to Iraq 2007-2009. A full 15 months. I know, not nearly as bad as some multi-deployment people. But after R&R, I had 12 moths left to go, so that sucked. I was 11B, or infantry. We were mostly around Sadr City and Taji, fighting the Mahdi Army militia. We lost some good men in Sadr City, one in my company, SGT John Kyle Daggett, in May 08.

Sometimes I can't sleep and I think about being there, how when we weren't returning fire against the insurgents, we were building schools and paying Iraqis to guard checkpoints in their own towns. They didn't really care. I witnessed on two occasions an adult Iraqi man beating a small female child's face with his fists. Two different families. We put a stop to it when we could, but we can't watch them all the time. I sometimes feel bad about all the houses we barged into, seeing the frightened look on the kids' faces, but the adults had no emotion, no anger, nothing, almost as if they were thinking about something really hard. You know that look someone gets when they're concentrating? That's it. Then my Platoon SGT would tell us, or I'd hear from someone what they did, and suddenly I didn't feel so bad about busting in their door.

I am proud of our military. Every last person in it, past, present, and future. We helped people in Iraq, despite what the media and most college professors and their thrall would have you believe. I wanted to do something good. I swear to you I didn't go over there screaming, "HOOAHH" while shooting at young Iraqi boys. Not just me, either. All my brothers in arms wanted to do the right thing. Because that gets hammered into your brain in our military... "Do the right thing, soldier" you hear it over and over, and see your leaders in your unit practicing what they preach. They lead by example.

I was happy in the army, but I missed my family and my girlfriend, who is now my beautiful wife... and yet I miss it, sometimes. And then I feel guilty because of the way I hear people back here in (Kentucky) talk, and on the news as well. I know in my heart though ... I did the right thing."

Binky42: "The 'right' thing is subjective. You went to Iraq and were part of a war that killed over 150,000 civilians. That could have been your wife dead. If I were you, I wouldn't be proud."

GldnDragn: "Binky42, I feel terrible about the loss of any civilian. I'm not proud of that. But I didn't kill any civilians and neither did my comrades. And I'm not trying to shirk responsibility either. I own those deaths. I accept them as on my hands. But ask yourself, How many of those "civilians" planted IEDs in ditches at night? Would those 'innocent' civilians be just as angry about American citizens being killed? I don't know the answer, but the question begs to be asked."

What do you think? Do you agree with the war, and do you have any messages for soldiers? Do you find any parallels between the more recent wars and conflicts from the past? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. billgme

    I salute the proud men who volunteered and served in the Iraq war. We should be a grateful nation. We succeded in Iraq because of the troop surge. All the mal-contents who talk about nothing except the gov't needs to give me this or that and it's all Bush-Cheney's fault. Go do something for someone and stop whining!

    December 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vet2640

    Parallels between Viet-Nam and Iraq? As far as how troops were treated upon their return, there is no comparison, I served in 1969, Viet-Nam, on my return? you-all called me "baby killer or murderer", all the rest since then are "heroes"? give me a break, it was your job, your "duty", when country calls. Most forget the old line, "DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY".
    We usually walk our dog "Max" at a local park, and to my surprise, a young man in his 20"s says thank-you for your service, only because he saw my "Vietnam Veteran" license plate, I say" thank-you, and if I could I would do it all over again". Just imagine, I took 42 years, before a complete stranger said "thank-you". That young person has a good head on his shoulders and a compassionate heart in his chest, he will go far, would make a great President of these United States one day.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rick

    what an amazing one sided collation of anti US and pro iranian and pro arab/palestinian propaganda. I cant reconcile the fact that Ms saidi is supposedly a responsible and objective CNN journalist with Ms Saidi's choice of some of the most rabid anti-Israel "posters" e.g. Lochlan, while leaving out the more important pro US, pro West "posters". this type of compilation is not worth reading if not objective and neutral in it's choice of posts to repeat.

    December 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
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