The Mighty and The Almighty

I started reading The Mighty and The Almighty by Madeleine Albright the other night. I’m about 75 pages into it so far, and I’d say that it is pretty interesting. Basically, the book is about politics and religion and how the two intersect. Although I don’t always agree with Albright’s opinions, I think she is generally pretty insightful.

While I was reading along the following passage that just stuck right out to me:

Unused to failure, American leaders were unable to fathom how this tiny…country could withstand the power they had unleashed against it. They misread the local culture; placed too much faith in corrupt, unpopular surrogates; and adopted a military strategy of gradual escalation that deepened our country’s involvement without making a decisive difference on the battlefield.

Quick, what’s the context of this? What war is she speaking of?

If I read this passage out of context, I would immediately assume that she was talking about Iraq. In fact, she is actually talking about Vietnam.1 I thought it was remarkable how similar the situations are, based upon these two (long) sentences. So remarkable, that while I was reading the passage, fully understanding that the subject was Vietnam, I stopped and thought to myself, Hey, that sounds just like Iraq.

Politicians today can talk all the want about how Iraq is nothing like Vietnam. And, no, I don’t think that they are exactly the same, but there are some striking similarities.

  1. For the record, I excluded one word from the passage (marked by the ellipsis). The word was ‘communist.’ Kind of gave everything away you know

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