Last week, I told you about our Nobel Peace Prize Prez sending 450 more US troops to Iraq to establish a new base, a new "training facility," in Anbar Province.
This week, I can tell you that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the new base a natural extension of US assistance that could serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere in Iraq, involving even more US troops, saying the idea for additional such bases is being looked at "all the time." He called such bases "lily pads" from which, apparently, Iraqi forces - not US forces, of course not, no never - from which Iraqi forces could, I suppose, hop forward.
Dempsey said he has not recommended putting US troops closer to the front lines to call in airstrikes - but he pointedly held out the possibility, saying "We continue to plan for and ensure that that option is available."
In response to the announcement of the additional 450 troops, several war hawks invoked "the lessons of Vietnam," those lessons being, as near as I can figure out from the rambling of their aging brains, "nuke 'em." Or more politely, "bomb them back to the Stone Age" - but since they're not actually prepared to be so honest about their desires, they just refer to some form of "go in big, now."
But of course they won't put their vote where their mouth is as Congress continues to dodge any sort of actual responsibility for any of this.
Thus on June 11, the House of Representatives rejected an amendment to a defense bill that would have forced lawmakers to vote on a formal authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State. The amendment, sponsored by Adam Schiff, would have required Congress to vote on a new authorization for military force by March 31, 2016, prohibiting funds in next year's defense appropriations to be used for air strikes against ISIS until and unless Congress authorized it.
It was voted down by 231 to 196 because the last thing that collection of cowards making up the majority wants to do is to have to actually say yes or no to war, to actually have something on record that can be pointed to, as opposed to just sniping about how one is conducted from the safety of their press releases.
One other thing on this: In referring to his "lily pads," Dempsey said "Is this a game changer? No. It's an extension of an existing campaign that makes the campaign more credible."
Y'know, I recall the lessons of - not the Vietnam War, the Indochina War - the lessons of that indelible stain on our history, rather differently than the war hawks. That's relevant here because what Dempsey has outlined clearly envisions a wider and deeper US involvement in Iraq, including moving "closer to the front lines," while insisting this really is no change. And I recall that among the lessons the government took from the Indochina War, a lesson which Dempsey clearly recalls, is "When you are changing your policy, say you aren't; when you're not changing your policy, say you are."
On, and speaking of Vietnam, we have an anniversary this week:
June 16, 1961 - Following a meeting between South Vietnamese envoy Nguyen Dinh Thuan and President John F. Kennedy, the United States agreed to increase the presence of American military advisors in Vietnam from 340 to 805, and to provide direct training and combat supervision to South Vietnamese troops. The number of U.S. personnel rose to 3,200 by the end of 1962.Like I said: Watch this space.
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