“Come on all you big, strong, men; Uncle Sam needs your help again…
So go the opening words of The FISH Song by “Country Joe and the Fish.”
The song linking the nature of foreign war with the San Francisco music scene of the middle 1960’s is indelibly stamped into the gray matter of much of the Boomer generation. The song was penned by Joe McDonald, a veteran of the U.S. Navy. I had committed it to memory before becoming one of those “helping Uncle Sam.” I can still pull up the lyrics and the melody with no hesitation.
Of course, I can also easily recall the increasing numbers of troops poured into S. VietNam, and to the air war over N. VietNam. I, and thousands of others who had reason to be concerned, watched the presence of U.S. troops in S. VietNam begin with advisors on the ground to help the S. Vietnamese build an army that might actually stand a chance of fighting the Viet Minh ( later Viet Cong) and the PAVN forces that reached southward of the 17th parallel. The loss of advisors led to security forces to protect the advisors. It then became necessary to defend aircraft on the ground and the troops that had to service the aircraft. In just a short period the number of U.S. troops had climbed to over 100,000 in country. By the time I vacationed there, the total sacrificial boots on the ground exceeded 500,000 pairs. Over 3,000,000 men and women serving in uniform for the U.S. took part in the ground and air wars that lasted ( for the U.S.) from 1954 – 1973.
Despite the millions of tons of explosives, napalm, and white phosphorous dropped from the skies over VietNam and neighboring nations, there was nothing to cause anyone other than LeMay and his disciples to imagine that a ground war could be won by air strikes. It didn’t work in Europe during WWII. It didn’t work in VietNam. War always comes down to the level of the infantry unit.
Now we are seeing the same arguments put forward to justify a return to Iraq and surrounds. Despite more tons of ordnance delivered by manned and unmanned airframes, ground is still captured and held by the queen of battle. If we allow ourselves to be sold another excursion to Iraq with side trips to Syria, we’re only proving once again that our political leaders have no awareness of U.S. military history; or that of any other nation. However, ideology is not something that any number of troops can eliminate. We need to take another hard look at the cost of our military involvement in the Middle East, at which companies and which countries benefit from U.S. troops bleeding and dying, and what sort of effort can be expected and demanded by surrounding nations.
At least, in the VietNam, we were smart enough not to step into the same swamp twice. It appears that we are going to make that encore mistake now.
"Give me an "F"!