Thursday, December 4, 2014

A History of War

After reading a book written on the US activity in southeast Asia during the 50s and 60s, I was struck by the parallels between the current situation in the middle east. 

According to Tillman Durdin, news correspondent for southeast Asia during the late 50s and 60s, the countries of that region were strongly nationalistic and therefore incapable of coming together in confederation.  In additional they held a strong anti-US sentiment and desire for independence, but being weak they relied heavily on outside aid, including from Europe, the US, the Soviet Union, and China.  The pull between western democracy and eastern communist interests made southeast Asia an ideal place to wage an ideological war; capitalism versus communism.  Of course, the US entered into the now infamous war in Vietnam, which was predated by several other skirmishes in the region and this is where the parallels come in.

Cut to the end of 2014 and we see that a similar protracted series of conflicts between the US and the middle east has been occurring.  Starting with the first Iraq war (of course not really starting with this, but we have to start somewhere), then the 911 attack, the retaliatory 2nd Iraq war, and attack on the Afghan territory in pursuit of bin Laden, one might suggest are just a prelude to a larger war to come. 

Why do I predict this?  Lets look at the chess board.  The US has now sent insurgents into this region under various pretenses.  I.e. they have scoped the terrain properly to assess a tactical assault on the region.  They have set up instillation that can be used as a base of operation as well.  It parallels the build up to the Vietnam War, in which the US had a boot presence in the region for more than a decade prior to all out war.  The anti-US sentiment is strong in these regions, and Islamic extremists have been actively targeted not just the US home-front but have slaughtered US civilians.  These acts, though insignificant in all out war, properly enrage the US populous into agreeing to sent warriors to this region, something the US military needs to act in a larger way.  The extremists in Syria and Iraq are infrastructure poor, just like the guerrillas of the Vietcong.  The US is still Goliath. 

Another parallel, is the weak puppet government set up after the US initiated Transitional Government and until recently headed by Nouri Al-Maliki who stepped down as prime minister amidst the recent ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) uprising.  After the Geneva Accord of 1954 a similar weak puppet government was set up in South Vietnam under Ngo Dinh Diem, who reigned as president until he was assassinated in a communist backed coup in 1963.  First regular US combat troops were deployed in 1965 but this was nearly a decade after war had been waging between the North and South in various capacities.  Now, ISIS plans to undermine, by similar tactics, the US strategies in Iraq and the middle east.  Additional attacks between US backed Israel and Palestine have also increased including an attack on US born Israeli Rabbis by extremists waging 'jihad' as well.

Why is this a predictor of war?  First, the US has an obligation to protect its interests, for both financial and political reasons.  The killing of American journalists and attacks on American born  Israeli's sets the board up for a retaliation aimed at curtailing the killing of US chess pawns; which not only includes people, but resources, and infrastructure.  However, previous attacks on middle eastern pawns, such as Sadam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and targeted middle eastern infrastructure, will not be enough this time.  Making martyrs does not end unrest only complete domination does.  The US will not enter this situation lightly however, they most be provoked, and so it will not happen without another large attack on US assets.  But the reordering of the US political environment toward a republican lead, ways in favor of warfare as well, if history is any predictor.  The ensuing war will be long and bloody with no easy end point to navigate toward.

It is interesting to note that because of the Vietcong tactics of throwing warriors at the problem, as well as the locale of the conflict, estimates suggest that there losses were at least 16 times more than US casualties perhaps much greater.  It will be the same with any protracted conflict in the middle east.  It may be comforting to those in the middle-east that the Vietcong won the war, but it would be better for middle-eastern militants to leave their irritation with the US out of their conflicts and back off when the US steps forward, otherwise it will be the middle-eastern dead that will be piling high in this new 'ideological' war.

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