With the news that President Barack Obama is now sending 300 military advisers back into Iraq (identified as Special Forces), we may be eyeing the beginning of a new phase in the Iraq War.
The war, we have been assured, is over, and the bulk of U.S. troops have been withdrawn. Thus, the president can claim one of his campaign promises have been fulfilled: the ending of an unpopular war.
But the striking successes of the insurgent ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] army, and its subsequent occupation of over a third of Iraqi territory, coupled with the blatant failures, corruptions and the sheer incompetence of the government of Nuri al-Maliki has opened doors that once seemed sealed shut.
Over half a century ago, when Vietnam began preparations for free and fair elections (which the U.S. feared for they knew of the popularity of Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh), the UN opened the door to countries involved there to bring in a limited number of troops, in a so-called ‘peace-keeping’ mode.
The late great historian Howard Zinn noted in his A People’s History of the United States:
Under the Geneva Accords, the United States was permitted to have 685 military advisers in southern Vietnam. Eisenhower secretly sent several thousand. Under Kennedy, the figure rose to sixteen thousand, and some of them began to take part in combat operations. (South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh was losing). Most of the South Vietnam countryside was now controlled by local villagers organized by the National Liberation Front. *
Zinn writes of summer, 1963. Before the year was gone, President Diem was dead, slain by his own generals at the behest of the CIA.
The criticisms of President Ngo Dinh Diem then, are strikingly similar to the criticisms of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki now.
What lies uncontested is the right of the US Empire to choose who should lead other countries. What happens when 1, 5, 10, or 20 of these so-called ‘military advisers’ gets killed or wounded?
What happens when anti-aircraft fire brings down a U.S. helicopter stuffed with ‘military advisers’?
President Obama may find that he is trapped in the marshes of war, just as President Lyndon Johnson was trapped in the jungles of Vietnam, where, not only Vietnamese peasants, or U.S. soldiers died, but so too did his hopes for The Great Society.