History repeats itself
I have avoided writing about current affairs on this blog, keeping it "pristine" for things more sublime. But today is the day I give in to the temptation. The headlines scream about the fall of the second biggest city in Iraq to the nebulous and poorly understood ISIS. The catch all phrase of al Qaeda has been applied to it by certain segment of journalists and republican senators in US, but as with everything else, you should take it with with a huge pinch of salt. What is understood is and subtly admired, if grudgingly, is the remarkable speed with which a few hundred nameless "insurgents" have over run large swathes of territory held by an army of thousands which has been painstakingly raised, trained and armed by the mighty US. The speed with which they have overrun the country and are now threatening Baghdad has led to to foreign nations, including India, to urge their citizens in Iraq to leave ASAP. This remarkable overrunning of an entire country or almost an entire country is reminiscent of the "blitzkreig" a la Wehrmacht in World War II. You need not go that far to find a simile and the WWII is not a correct comparison because the war machine of the Nazis was far more mammoth. In the recent past, the M23 rebel, allegedly supported by Rwanda, had overrun large swathes of Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo only to withdraw under UN pressure. Mali was similarly overrun by an al Qaeda organisation till the French intervened in 2013.The Taliban overthrew the myriad Mujahideens of Afghanistan in their hey days with spectacular speed in 1996, albeit some say it was just the Pakistani regulars. In 1975, the Viet Cong (with elements of NVA) overran South Vietnam and took over Saigon in a matter of few weeks. The large western armed and trained army of South Vietnam just deserting in the face of a bunch of rag tag fighters is the closest comparison of what we are witnessing in Iraq right now. During the Gulf War I, the peaceniks often predicted Iraq going the Vietnam way. The incidents of 9/11 and the WMD campaign of Bush Jr seemed to have gone against their predictions. However, going by the events of last one week the peaceniks might have the last laugh, as a US Navy aircraft carrier rushes into the Persian Gulf in eerie similarity of the US Navy Seventh Fleet rushing to Vietnam in 1975 in what was then the largest airborne evacuation: 'The Operation Frequent Wind'. Not surprisingly, the US Navy carrier this time around is: USS George HW Bush, named after the character who started getting into the quagmire way back in 1991. We can only nervously watch the crude oil price.