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The Last CardInside George W. Bush's Decision to Surge in Iraq $
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Timothy Sayle, Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands, and William Inboden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501715181

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501715181.001.0001

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Iraq, Vietnam, and the Meaning of Victory

Iraq, Vietnam, and the Meaning of Victory

(p.239) Chapter 10 Iraq, Vietnam, and the Meaning of Victory
The Last Card

Andrew Preston

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a comparison of George W. Bush's decision-making process in the Iraq War with that of Lyndon B. Johnson's in the Vietnam War. In both Vietnam and Iraq, the United States had to fight an insurgent campaign that was supported by powerful regional adversaries determined to bring down a US-backed government. In both Vietnam and Iraq, America's superior military technology had limited effectiveness against an enemy who relied on simple but lethal weapons and could blend into the general population. In both Vietnam and Iraq, gaining the trust of that population was vital to the success of the overall mission yet proved frustratingly elusive. And in deciding what to do in response, the national security decision-making apparatus in both the Johnson and Bush administrations ultimately produced a consensus behind the president's decision, either to surge US troops to restore deteriorating security and political stability (in 1965 and 2007) or to begin the process of de-escalation and eventually withdrawal (1968). There were key differences, too, which the chapter also explores, but the similarities are uncanny.

Keywords:   George W. Bush, Iraq War, Lyndon B. Johnson, Vietnam War, insurgent campaign, military technology, national security, decision making, surge strategy, de-escalation

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