1549 Knee Deep in the Big Sandy
As a nation, we learned nothing from Vietnam -- the “Big Muddy” -- except that no one came home whole.
And so, we replicated our failure there in the Middle East. And we’re about to go deeper as the US sends “advisers” to Syria.
If you think things were bad in Iraq and Kuwait, if you think things are bad in Afghanistan and Libya, hold tight to the railing because they’re about to get worse. Probably much worse. This time, we’re not only fighting an enemy on its own turf, we’re not only fighting what amounts to a popular front, we are also fighting Russia which has a much bigger stake in this conflict than we do and has something to gain, which we don’t.
The old lion Charles de Gaulle warned the old lion Dwight Eisenhower not to get involved in Indochina. He didn’t listen and neither did the three presidents who followed.
The old lion Gorbachev warned the old lion Reagan against getting involved in Afghanistan. He didn’t listen and neither did the four presidents who followed.
Now comes Syria, home of ISIS, the current black keffiyeh in the region. We don’t want them. The dictator Assad doesn’t want them and the Russians don’t want them.
So what’s the problem? We all get together and crush them. Ah, but it’s the Middle East where nothing is simple even if it’s easy.
The problem seems to be twofold. 1. We like to kill or otherwise topple unwanted regional dictators. 2. The Russians want Assad to stay.
And we want Assad to go with such fervor that we made his removal a condition of our helping in the war against ISIS. Until now.
Make no mistake about it, we are going to get sucked into this mess and fighting a hot war against Russia in an area where influence is important to them is not in our best interest. It has the potential to grow into something much bigger.
But, you say, Russia has become a third world country. What harm can they do us? A third world country? With enormous natural resources, a strong will, a relatively strong and clever military and a preternatural ability to tolerate civilian poverty and suffering? Some third world country!
But, you say, we’re only sending advisers. Right. That’s now. The secretary of defense says “we’re in combat.” The White House disagrees. The secretary is prescient and the White House delusional.
Vietnam started for us with advisers. So have other wars. All that means is that the buildup of American involvement will be relatively slow and probably half-baked.
So the question we American peasants on the ground have to ask -- and answer -- what do we need that for?
Lives and money at a distance of seven thousand miles? It’s bad enough they can’t seem to resolve their own problems, what makes anyone think we can… or even if we can, we should.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015