Iraq is not another Afghanistan. Notwithstanding what the president has said, the primary problem in Iraq is not terrorism, and to focus on it would delay the adoption of an effective counterinsurgency policy. Nevertheless, critics of the president who make parallels between Iraq and Vietnam are equally wrong. Because of its oil, its location in a strategic region and the importance of establishing a democracy in the Arab world, Iraq is far more important to the United States than Vietnam. But there is one way in which Iraq is like Vietnam: How the United States is handling it. We are repeating the same mistakes when the situation on the place is not more favorable: Ibrahim Al-Jaafari is far more popular than president Diem ever was and the Iraqi insurgents have neither the popularity nor the firepower that Vietnam had.
There are five lessons to learn from Vietnam:
- First of all, to ensure the safety of the people. The Iraqis are major victims of criminal actions while we chase the insurgents. If we improve peoples’ lives, the rebels will lose the Iraqis’ support.
- We should have enough manpower for the job. Our 155 000 men are not sufficient.
- We need to be patient and devote our time to properly train the Iraqi troops. It would be a big mistake to send them too soon to the battle field.
- We should focus not only on Baghdad problems, but also on the economic reconstruction of the rest of the country, especially the oil business.
- To try to collaborate with the Sunni leaders. This may be shocking because it is a non-American behavior. But in Iraq, things always have worked out this way: the central power seeks cooperation from the Sunni sheikhs.

Source
New York Times (United States)

Five Ways to Win Back Iraq”, by Kenneth M. Pollack, New York Times, July 1st, 2005.