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US fails to take lessons from Vietnam War fiasco

A Vietcong prisoner awaits interrogation at the A-109 Special Forces detachment at Thuong Duc, January 23, 1967. United States National Archives and Records Administration.

Thursday marks the 45th anniversary of the end of US war on Vietnam, which brought embarrassment and shame for Washington.

In 1955, the pro-American Ngo Dinh Diem became President of South Vietnam, and with the help of the US, started to arrest anyone suspected of being in the Viet Minh communist coalition.

The US then gradually increased its troop deployment to the country fearing that “communism would soon spread across the region.”

In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident gave the US government an excuse to justify a war on Vietnam.

In August that year, an intruding US destroyer was monitored by North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats.  The destroyer USS Maddox initiated the incident by firing three "warning" shots, and the North Vietnamese boats replied with torpedoes and machine gun fire.

In an ensuing sea battle, one US aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed.

The US Congress then approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized US military action in the region.

After a bloody and protracted war, a ceasefire was agreed in 1973 and ended direct US involvement, with American forces, whose numbers had risen to 500,000, completing their withdrawal.

The war cost 58,000 American and four million Vietnamese lives. It affected 700,000 American veterans and cost the US over $100bn, and damaged its reputation and morale at home.

The US failure in the war and its atrocities in terms of the number of civilian deaths and the use of chemical weapons has tarnished America’s image at home and abroad to date.

Now, the US illegal military presence in the Persian Gulf is a walk down the memory lane as Washington is openly seeking a confrontation with Iran.

Iran says US’ interventionist moves undermine security and stability in the West Asia region, especially in the Persian Gulf.

President Hassan Rouhani said that, “Security of the region and waterways is of high importance to Iran, but unfortunately, high-risk behavior on the part of the US can undermine stability in the Persian Gulf region.”

US President Donald Trump, who has increased US naval presence in the region, said last week that US Navy ships would shoot "out of the water" Iranian gunboats that get too close in the Persian Gulf.

His remarks came after a US Navy statement alleged that 11 boats of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had closed in on six US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf “in dangerous and harassing approaches.” The IRGC strongly dismisses the statement, calling the account a “Hollywood tale.”

IRGC released a video, which showed its Navy warning off a flotilla of US warships in the Persian Gulf as they try to approach the Iranian territorial waters.

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said, "What leads to insecurity in the Persian Gulf region is the illegal and aggressive presence of the Americans who have come from the other end of the world to our borders and make such baseless claims."

The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said on Monday that the presence of the US and its allies in the West Asia region has been the source of insecurity for regional countries, warning that any US provocative move will be met with Iranian Armed Forces’ categorical response.

It said, “High-risk behaviors, which make shipping [in regional waters] insecure, have started since the adventurist and terrorist country of America and some of its allies came to this sensitive region.”

"As it has been repeatedly announced, the Islamic Republic of Iran has never initiated and will never start any tension and conflict in the region, but will always defend its territorial integrity with preparedness, strength and power," Iran's high military body said, adding, "Any act of adventurism, harassment and provocation will be met with the Iranian Armed Forces' decisive response and hostile forces, including the US, will be responsible for consequences."

Iranian Armed Forces called on the US and its allies to abide by Iran's regulations as well as international rules and to avoid any acts of adventurism, measures in violation of principles of safe navigation, and providing false accounts of their provocative behaviors while passing through Iran's territorial waters.

The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces called on the US and its allies to withdraw from the region and allow regional countries to establish security in cooperation with each other as the sole secure way to enforce peace and stability in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.

The US president, who is now seeking to divert public attention from his failure to handle the coronavirus crisis, has increased his anti-Iran sabre-rattling to escalate tensions in the Middle East in recent weeks.

Trump, who is seeking reelection in November, seems hell-bent on upping the ante with Iran in the Persian Gulf, a "policy" that analysts warn will seal a Vietnam-like fate for the US military.

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