WASHINGTON September 16, 2014 – Today, the House of Representatives began discussions concerning several pieces of legislation aimed at curtailing the threat of ISIS and other extremist groups in Africa and the Middle East. The largest and most pressing of these threats is ISIS, which has been bearing down on Iraq from strongholds in Syria for months now.
According to a story published on Reuters today, one of these pieces of legislation would arm and train some of the “more moderate” of rebels among the Syrian Opposition.
There is just one problem with that: We have been there before, and it does not work.
The most obvious and blatant of the two being Vietnam and the arming of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight to Soviets, which eventually led to the formation of al-Qaeda.
It is no secret that many of the foreign policy situations that the United States now finds herself are those of her own making. In Vietnam, President Kennedy had authorized limited action on the part of no more than twenty thousand special operators and advisers to train and equip the South Vietnamese forces to fight against their Communist adversaries.
Near the time of his death in 1963, JFK actually had designs to leave Vietnam, and had begun withdrawing troops, an order which was first drafted in a memo to the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense. It only took a few years, but soon enough the force in Vietnam went from twenty thousand to half a million.
It constituted a draft, the first televised war, and a cultural revolution. It also cost over fifty eight thousand American lives. It all began with a simple training and equipping operation.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, or perhaps a few years later, the United States decided it was a good idea to arm and train the Mujahedeen. On September 11, 2001 the group known as al-Qaeda killed nearly three thousand people. That group was, and is, a direct descendant of those fighters the United States trained and supplied.
Again, it all began with a simple training and equipping operation.
Thirteen years later, the United States is considering arming and training “moderate rebels” in Syria to help combat the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group founded by al-Qaeda in 2009, and supported indirectly by the United States in Syria. However, despite a plethora of historical evidence, and current events, the best and brightest minds in the country have decided that they are probably different from other government officials who have led the country into disastrous circumstances, and that this time it will be different.
Ten years or so from now, it will not at all be surprising if we are listening to the current president discuss the threat that a new group poses to international security. A group we funded, a group we trained, all in an effort to combat another group which we have funded and trained in the name of international stability. And it all began with a simple training and equipping operation.
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