Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Korea, 'Nam
All over again?


An Associated Press/Israel HaYom article under the hed US may decide to train Syrian rebels claims that U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing sending a limited number of troops to Jordan as part of a regional training mission to instruct carefully vetted members of the Free Syrian Army, according to U.S. officials gives me pause.

The U.S. got involved in Korea and in Vietnam by sending in "advisors" to help the local militaries.

We STILL have troops in Korea.

We were chased out of Vietnam (just like the French before us).

As the Pete Seeger/Joe Hickson song went, "When will they ever learn?" (The full lyrics are found at

Granted, Syria is neither Korea nor Vietnam.

It is more like Afghanistan.

But there are similarities to all three "involvements."

First, for the U.S. it is a no-win situation,

Even if the U.S. troops never enter Syrian territory, it will be a political fiasco.

Question (and I don't have the answer): Are the Russians sending in "advisors" to support the government and Hezbollah? Russia, in Putin's attempt to recreate a Russia of the cold war days, may be providing weapons and it may be providing training outside the region, but are there Russian "boots on the ground" or pilots in the air?

There is general agreement that Iran's ayatollahs' heavy hands are involved, but the U.S., particularly under the current administration, is not going to war with an Islamic country; it has proven that repeatedly by the "red lines" the ayatollahs cross as fast as Washington can draw them.

Second, the enemy doesn't wear uniforms. Nor do the "friends." Perhaps Syria's regular military wears uniforms, but neither Hezbollah nor the rebels wear uniforms identifying their political positions.

That should sound like Vietnam and Afghanistan. Who is the enemy? The one trying to kill you- a child? A "pregnant" woman? An old man? Ask Israelis what the enemy looks like; they know the threat can look innocent.

Third, the ability of the U.S. to "vet" people is at best questionable. Consider all the "friends" vetted in places such as Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq, and elsewhere around the globe. The success rate is dismal.

Still, according to the article, U.S. troops will stay in Jordan to train rebel soldiers.

Until Syrian government troops - or Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists - cross into Jordan to attack the rebels-in-training. If an American is wounded or killed, the U.S. troops might cross into Syria chasing the attackers. (That would be an improvement over Korea when American troops were forbidden from cross the Yalu/Amrok River* to chase retreating North Koreans and Chinese troops.)

Although Israel and Jordan have peaceful, albeit often tense, relations today, there is no guarantee this status hold given Israel's problem with the so-called Palestinians and the Moslem Waqf that controls the Temple Mount, a site once under Jordanian control and still of interest to Jordan. A suggestion that U.S. troops train Jordanian troops to train Syrians would make the U.S.' strongest ally in the region - Israel - nervous.

One thing the administration should consider: How many Muslim states, from Morocco in the west to Oman in the east have sent troops to support either side? Aside from Iran.

What have the Arab states done to end the Syrian civil war?


* The Yalu/Amrok River is the border between North Korea and China.

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