Date: Feb. 15, 2005
CONTACT: Jeff Stoughton, jeff.stoughton@ttu.edu

LUBBOCK – Parallels between U.S. attempts to build a separate nation in South Vietnam and today’s efforts to establish Iraq as a democratic country will be discussed by leading historians at the Texas Tech University Vietnam Center’s fifth Triennial Symposium March 17-19.

Appearing on a panel March 17 will be Marc Jason Gilbert, a history professor at North Georgia College and State University, who will compare nation building attempts in South Vietnam to the January elections in Iraq; John Prados, a senior analyst with the National Security Archive, who will compare intelligence issues such as the interrogation of prisoners during the Vietnam War and at Abu Graib prison in Iraq; and Edwin Moise, a history professor at Clemson University, who will compare the Gulf of Tonkin incident, used to justify war in Vietnam, with the specter of weapons of mass destruction, used to justify conflict in Iraq.

This year’s symposium falls during three major anniversaries dealing with U.S.-Vietnam relations: the 40th anniversary of the United States’ commitment of troops to South Vietnam, the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the 10th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two nations.

“A lot of people draw comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, but they don’t have enough information to make an informed comparison,” said James Reckner, director of the Texas Tech Vietnam Center. “These historians will shed more light on the parallels and differences between the two conflicts.”

Sessions on March 19 (Saturday) will address the Vietnam War’s effect on the 2004 elections. Representatives from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who ran commercials questioning presidential candidate John Kerry’s Vietnam record, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, will speak at those sessions. Jerome Corsi, coauthor of “Unfit For Command,” will be among the speakers.

A panel will discuss the normalization of U.S.-Vietnam relations March 17 (Thursday). Other topics include teaching about the Vietnam War, entertainment of
troops during the conflict, the consequences of Agent Orange use, and music and humor during the war, including discussions on civilian protest and folk music of the period.

Representatives from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) will also hold a panel discussion. The Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech has provided JPAC with clues on the whereabouts of Americans lost during the war.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Ken Bowra, a special operations officer who served in Vietnam and Cambodia, will give the keynote address. Bowra commanded US forces in Bosnia and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Reckner founded the Vietnam Center in 1989, and it now houses the largest archive of Vietnam War-related material outside the U.S. government’s collection. The center’s Virtual Vietnam Archive, accessible online, contains more than 2 million pages of documentation relevant to the conflict, including photographs, audio, scanned documents, artifacts, maps, videos and oral histories. It is accessible at http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/virtualarchive/index.htm.

The most current version of the symposium schedule is available at http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu.


Contact: James Reckner, director of the Vietnam Center, at (806) 742-3742 or james.reckner@ttu.edu.