Richard Armitage
Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State

Is Iraq the new Vietnam?

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Armitage flatly denies the false comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.

Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.

Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense.  In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.

Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.


Question: What do you make of comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq?

Armitage:     I don’t see that many.  Vietnam was homogeneous.  Iraq is not.  There are a lot of differences.  In the question of Vietnam, we didn’t have UN resolutions existent that would call for the use of force.  There are a lot of differences.  What is the same is, if you think about it, the remarkable ability of the American public to absorb casualties.  In Vietnam when I first showed up in country, we were losing dead . . . 300 soldiers a week. We’re losing today 80 or 90 a month.  But still, notwithstanding the neuralgia that exists around this issue, the American public seems to have a lot more patience for this suffering – if they can see a valid end – than many other states may have.