Iraq War Talk at Whitman College, October 18


We had an event on Wed Oct 18, "Iraq and the Unlearned Lessons from the Vietnam War"  About 50 people attended.  An article was published on our website about it.  Here it is.


Elyse Semerdjian

History Department



History Professor David Schmitz finds "stunning" parallels between Iraq and Vietnam wars

WALLA WALLA, Wash.—David Schmitz, the Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History at Whitman, drew a number of parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars during a nationwide teach-in by Historians Against the War Wednesday evening.


Schmitz is a nationally recognized authority on U.S. foreign policy and the author of five books, including the The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinion (2005), and The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989 (2006). His presentation of “Iraq and the Unlearned Lessons from the Vietnam War” at 7 p.m. in Maxey Auditorium was one of 50 teach-ins held on campuses across the country on Oct. 18.


The parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars are “stunning,” said Schmitz, even though there has been almost nothing in the media about the similarities. He attributes the silence to the fact that no one wants to bring back that ugly time in American history when “we were pitted against each other.”


Schmitz, however, found many parallels. Some are listed below.

Unfortunately, he added, American leaders have not yet learned the limitations of power even a superpower has. “These are unwinnable wars for superpowers. Can they drive us out? No, but it’s a war of attrition and they just need to wait until support at home wanes and we leave.”


“If in the 2006 elections, voters make a distinction between the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, then it will be a parallel to the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War,” he said, and it will be the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq. Right now, Bush still believes his own rhetoric, said Schmitz, and the president believes the United States can win the war in Iraq.


For more information, or to talk to Professor Schmitz, contact him at


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman