A comparison of the Vietnam and Iraq wars was held Oct. 17 at the Oviatt library and included discussion about the importance of understanding past mistakes made in war.
????The seminar discussion was headed by presentations from three CSUN professors, Associate Professor of political science James Mitchell, Associate Professor of mathematics David Klein and retired Associate Professor of history Ronald Schaffer. The discussion was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Values.
Mitchell opened the discussion with a presentation entitled “The Iraq War: Vietnam Redux?” Mitchell talked about the similarities of the Vietnam and Iraq war. Mitchell went on to express the need for communication when dealing with two conflicting sides.
“Communication with our foes as well as with our friends. It is prudent to talk, but not just to talk, but to listen. Not to kill, but to communicate,” said Mitchell. “We have all these people that we refuse to talk to until they do certain things we need them to. This is what creates tension.”
The discussion turned to lies and the government when Klein took the floor. Klein showed the lies that were told to the public about the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq, in a presentation called “Lies for war: Vietnam, Iraq, and Beyond.” He discussed propaganda and lies being the ultimate reasoning for why the US became involved in both wars. Klein discussed Vietnam and the lie that was fed to the American people, that the US was in Vietnam to bring democracy to the people. He said, with the war in Iraq the lie once again is based on bringing democracy to the people of Iraq and stopping the war on terrorism.
“We did not bring democracy to Vietnam, but prevented it,” Klein said. “If we want to stop terrorism then we need to stop doing acts of terrorism.”
Klein went on to explain what he said is the true reason behind the motivation for war: the need to conquer.
“These are not wars we are forced into, but are wars on conquering,” said Klein. “This has to do with oil.”
Schaffer closed the discussion with the presentation of “Is It Possible to Learn From Experience?” Schaffer discusses the ideas of handling war with counter guerilla warfare techniques that are given to soldiers. Troops are trained to learn from past situations and to communicate with the enemy on different levels, however much of these ideas are contradictory.
“Trying to convince people we are friendly but are bombing the hell out of them is a contradiction,” Schaffer said.
Schaffer discussed the need to understand past mistakes in order to truly learn and avoid repeating them.
“Problems are destined to repeat. If we don’t think for ourselves and centralize we will fail,” Schaffer said.
The discussion ended in a question and answer period moderated by James Kellenberger, director of the Center for Ethics and Values. Students asked the presenters questions concerning the current situation in Iraq.
Members of the audience included all ages, spanning from high schools students to Vietnam and Iraq veterans.
Hollywood High school senior Jonathan Arroyo attended the event and left with more knowledge of the subject.
“I think that all the information was useful and interesting. Information about this stuff is usually hard to find,” said Arroyo. “It summed up everything you need to know and made it so you can understand what is going on.”
CSUN senior Jabbar Magruder, an Army reserve member who was sent to Iraq for 11 months, came to the discussion.
“I thought that the discussion showed the fundamentals that connect the war in Iraq and Vietnam,” said Magruder. “It shows that treasonous warfare will not work in Iraq, so this is the fundamental reason why need to leave. There is no use in wasting our blood and treasure on a futile mission.”
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