Friday, June 20, 2014

Military Advisers to Iraq: What Could Go Wrong?

One word: Vietnam.

"U.S. Adviser Planning Operations with South Vietnamese Troops"
From The U.S. Army in Vietnam: Background, Buildup, and Operations, 1950-1967

Isn't "adviser" just another word for "pre-escalation"?

February 18, 1963: Letter to JFK from family member of US soldier killed in Vietnam

For the full 1963 Bobbie Lou Pendergrass letter to JFK and more, see: Military Advisers in Vietnam: 1963 - Lesson plan at

[UPDATE - June 26, 2014 - good to see Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman agrees: "In Iraq, echoes of Vietnam: What we learned in Southeast Asia but forgot"]

Related posts

For alert Americans, the announcement that "As part of the deal with Manila, the U.S. is promising to step up military assistance and training with the Philippine military . . . . " is worrying. The first question to ask is this: how many "military advisers" is the U.S. putting in the Philippines, and what is it leading to?

(See "Military Advisers" - The Third Rail of US Engagement in SE Asia )

I don't know how this strikes other people, but it seems to me like the School of the Americas (SOA) model has been transferred to Afghanistan. The SOA model is to use U.S. money and ideas to enable power holders in another country to persecute and kill ideological enemies, while denying that the U.S. is engaging in violence in that country, much less exposing U.S. combat troops to violence in that country, and making every effort to disavow the consequences of U.S. guidance of the violence (and crimes) being carried out in that country.

(See Is the SOA Coming to Afghanistan? )

There is a very dangerous tendency to justify military intervention in Africa as "humanitarian." This is particular true in light of recent history, in which the international community failed to intervene successfully in violence like the genocide in Rwanda. We have a lot of confusion about the need to intervene, the definition of humanitarian, and the temptation to use power, force, violence.

(See AFRICOM: The Heart of Darkness )

Other related links

"Will Syria Be Obama’s Vietnam?" by Fredrik Logevall and Gordon M. Goldstein in The New York Times, October 7, 2014: "In the very week in which he professed to see 'no daylight' in the struggle, [President Lyndon B.] Johnson initiated Operation Rolling Thunder, the graduated, sustained aerial bombardment against North Vietnam; also that week, he dispatched the first combat troops. More soon followed, and by the end of 1965, some 180,000 men were on the ground in South Vietnam. Ultimately, the count would top half a million."