Saturday, March 5, 2016

Will US "Asymmetrical" Warfare in Syria Lead to a New Vietnam?

There's a pretty curious paper that international analysts often overlook titled, "Why Big Countries Lose Small Wars." However, the most curious part about this paper is the title itself. It's hard to argue that Vietnam wasn't a big deal. If we could all become cynical for just for a moment we will see that a war where less that 1% of the invader's population is fighting with no additional expenditures being made cannot heavily affect the invader. No one can actually deny that Vietnam was a small war that should have never led to the consequences that it had, yet it did.

A while ago I had the luxury of watching a Vietnam era propaganda movie and truth be told, I was truly amazed. Watching the reports of all the latest US wars I've never seen a complete and proper military deployment of American troops before. Should we take a look at reports from Afghanistan and Iraq we will see small patrols running from one heavily fortified base to another, sneaky, scared and utterly ineffective. Yet, in Vietnam, American troops were deployed like you would expect a military force to be, with tanks, fortifications, patrols, barges and soldiers guarding perimeters. The movie I saw told me that the US was making "steady progress" and that American forces were provided with every piece of equipment they needed to win, yet they didn't. Why? Small wars have been waged for centuries and no major player had collapsed after losing such wars, even if it wasn't particularly pleasant for the governments that were waging these wars, but governments come and go.

But Vietnam was much worse than any other war, since no military officer at the time could provide the government with an answer as to how the hell they losing. This led to the conclusion that the US cannot fight direct wars anymore. That's where all the trouble started, when particular emphasis was placed on the use of proxy forces to achieve Washington's geopolitical goals. Since that moment and onward, the US had two armies: a proxy army of CIA agents and mercenaries that could easily steal money from the government since nobody really knew how much those operations were supposed to cost and the actual US army which started making toy weapons that looked good but could never fulfill a quarter of the expectations their designers had. It's hard to blame American generals, knowing that the next time you're going to truly deploy your forces would only be when WW III starts, and at that point you wouldn't care what kind of tanks or planes became targets for a nuclear warhead. Immediately after the Vietnam War, one can notice that military expenditures of the US along with it's foreign debt took a huge leap and both have been mounting rapidly ever since. Funding two huge corrupt armies at same time is a feat no country can afford.

Fast forward to the year 2016 and America's largest proxy army in existence, namely ISIS, after being provided with everything an army could demand, is still suffering a huge humiliating defeat in Syria, with American politicians making all kinds of threatening statements. Have we seen those before? Sure, just take a look at the Vietnam era. Those would be followed by confused statements and later on by pathetic ones. We see the same pattern being reproduced even after the complete destruction of America's economy that was caused by the dramatic turn US military doctrine took immediately after the Vietnam War.

Do you see a problem here? As it was stated in an old American movie, "Some days you win, some days you lose, some days it rains." Aggressive propaganda coupled with an inability to admit one's defeat and pack up and leave silently is forcing America into yet another corner. The world is getting increasingly polarized with people strongly pro-American and strongly anti-American, yet experts agree that if the US collapses as an international player, the security vacuum that would immediately follow in numerous regions of the world would be hard, if not impossible, to fill. So should American politicians learn how to accept a defeat along with making its army an actual fighting force that could be proud of its achievements, the whole world will become a safer place, no matter how paradoxical it sounds.