165893 Contrasting US wars on Vietnam and Iraq: Changes from 2006 to 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007: 2:30 PM

Victor W. Sidel, MD , Professor of Social Medicine, Albert Einstein Medical College, Montifiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York, NY
A paper invited by the APHA Vietnam Caucus on AU.S. Wars on Vietnam and Iraq: Similarities, Differences and Public Health Implications@ was presented at the APHA Annual Meeting in November, 2006. In that paper the similarities discussed included: (1) Misleading of Congress and the public to permit the United States to enter the conflict; (2) Repeated false U.S. claims of success in the war; (3) Massive numbers of civilian casualties; (4) Major economic, social and political costs; (5) Use of weapons likely harmful to long term health of combatants and non combatants in Vietnam use of the defoliant Agent Orange, in Iraq use of shells containing depleted uranium; and (6) Violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Differences between the wars discussed in the 2006 paper noted that during the Iraq war: (1) Many fewer U.S. troops had been deployed and far fewer killed and wounded; (2) A volunteer rather than a largely-conscripted U.S. military force was used; (3) Television coverage of U.S. military casualties and protests in the United States against the war were less extensive; (4) The U.S. Congress had taken no effective action to end the war; and (5) The APHA Governing Council had taken no action calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Now, one year later: The number of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq, the number of U.S. troops killed and wounded, and the estimates of civilian deaths had risen; Further examples of violations of the Geneva Convention had been reported; and Television coverage and protests against the war and its conduct had increased in the United States and in other countries. In late 2006. control of the U.S. Congress had shifted to the opposition party and the APHA Governing Council had approved a policy statement calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

At the time of submission of this abstract, public and Congressional disapproval of the Iraq war were much higher but had not reached the level of 1970s when President Nixon was ordered by Congress to end the bombing of Cambodia and U.S. troops were withdrawn from Vietnam; President Bush had not yet suffered the disavowal suffered by Presidents Johnson and Nixon; and public support in the United States for the troops deployed in Iraq, in contrast to the support of troops in Vietnam, remained high.

Learning Objectives:
Comparison of the similarities and differences in the wars on Vietnam and Iraq. Analysis of the reasons for the similarities and differences in 2006 compared to 2007. Discussion of the lessons learned and their applicability to ending the Iraq war and to preventing future wars. Discussion of the steps health workers and their organizations can take to hasten withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and to prevent future wars.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.