Saturday, May 05, 2007

GRAPHS: Iraq troop surge vs. Vietnam peak troop level

One fairly dispassionate way to predict the success of Bush's surge is to compare it to the number of troops we had in Vietnam, a war which we also lost.

DougD at Edwards blog crunched the numbers on this and provided a couple of graphs, but I like 3D ones, so the following are his words and my graphs.

Bush "surge" pointless - far too little - far too late

In 1968 we had 585,000 troops stationed in South Vietnam which had a population at the time of 16 milllion South Vietnamese. This meant there was 1 American soldier stationed in South Vietnam for every 27.35 South Vietnamese.

By comparison in Iraq today we have approximately 130,000 soldiers or only about 22.2% of the number of soldiers that we had in Vietnam in 1968.

These 130,000 soldiers must protect and pacify a population of 26,000,000 Iraqis which is 62.5% more Iraqis than there were South Vietnamese during the Tet Offensive.

Thus today we have 1 American soldier in Iraq for every 200 Iraqis vs. 1 American soldier for every 27.35 South Vietnamese. This means a soldier in Iraq today has 7.35 times as many people to be responsible for as the soldier did in 1968.

After the President's "surge" of 21,000 troops these numbers and ratios will not appreciably change. Instead of being responsible for 200 Iraqis, each soldier will be responsible for 172.2 Iraqis. This will still be 6.29 times as many as the soldier in 1968 had to deal with.

See the rest of DougD's excellent analysis

Iraq is not Vietnam. One is a large desert and the other is a small jungle.

But what is the same in both is you cannot win if the people who live there don't think you are there to help them. You can kill them until there are too few left to fight back, but then it will be hard to pretend to the American people and the rest of the world that you are there to help.

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