Friday, May 05, 2006
Another perspective on Iraq and U.S. army bases.
(And since we're on the topic, a guest post by reader T. Holland, with which I'm not taking a position either way, I'm just sharing it. I'm betting Dave from TGB might have an opinion or two.)
One of the things outsiders don't understand about the Vietnam War is that the U.S. Army won it. We confined the Navy to a small and insignificant area in the northernmost part of South Vietnam, and then inserted an Army Division — the Americal — into Marine Corps territory to show the marines how to run a modern war. (For you Canadians who might not know, the Marine Corps is a small infantry force that belongs to the Navy. Well, it's not that small. It's bigger than the Canadian Forces. But it's small in comparison to the Army.) As far as the Air Force was concerned, the Air Force just rode the Army's back in Vietnam and wasn't a real player.
Vietnam was to be the Army's second foothold on the Asian mainland. This was a really important issue because the Pacific had been a "Navy Lake" since Commodore Perry had opened up Japan, so long ago that no one alive today can remember when. It think it was around 1875.
Permanent bases in Vietnam were part of the conquest. We started building them in 1966 or earlier. It was part of "Empire Building." Each major and, for that matter, minor segment of the Army saw the Vietnam War as an opportunity to grow, while the Army as a whole won territory from the Navy.
The war in Iraq has been different to date because it was driven by politicians rather than professional soldiers trying to build empires. While the Air Force supported the Iraq invasion from the start, and appears to be supporting an attack on Iran, the Army consistently has been negative on Iraq, due to lack of respect for Our Beloved Leader and his henchpersons and their wisdom. All these complaints from retired Army & Marine Corps generals about the way the war in Iraq was run is really about how Our Beloved Leader and his henchpersons want to run the war in Iran. But they can't say that because everything about Iran is classified.
Unfortunately, the politicans took the Vietnam war away from us and the Pacific remained a Navy Lake. The Navy ended up getting everything back by default.