The 70th anniversary of the victorious end of World War II is celebrated this year. Unfortunately, as a vet of that war, I have the disturbingly clear vision of witnessing all the wasted years since. It’s an unending repetition of American political and military errors that still continue in a Middle East today troubled by the rising black flag of terrorism.
While in a Navy advance unit in the Philippines, I saw the first of many senseless errors as the war ended in September of 1945. When peace was declared, we were encamped near Clark Field, our largest military airport at the capital city of Manila.
Just about every day in the following weeks, I witnessed the officially-ordered destruction of billions of dollars worth of used and new war equipment, including aircraft, tanks, trucks, artillery, ammo and other supplies.
The most spectacular was when ground crews daily started engines on pilotless American and Japanese fighters and bombers. The men then stood by and watched the aircraft roll across the tarmac and into the Pacific Ocean at Manila Bay.
Less than five years later, in June 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea, and America was at war again. As an active Navy Reservist, I was called up for two more years of duty. Frustrated, I could clearly see that all the equipment deliberately destroyed in 1945 in the Philippines and elsewhere had to be replaced at enormous cost for the Korean War.
Back during World War II, while fighting Japan, the U.S. had given China massive amounts of weapons, vehicles and aircraft. That equipment was being used against American troops. Also, our World War II allies Russia and China supported North Korea, sending a million Chinese “volunteers” to attack American forces.
Again, in the 1960s, American GIs were sent to Asia, this time to fight the North Vietnamese invaders of South Vietnam. Once more, both former allies Russia and China supported North Vietnam with military equipment, some of it originally supplied by the U.S. in the 1940s.
When American forces left in 1975, South Vietnam surrendered and all U.S. equipment went to North Vietnam. To repeat a corny phrase: It was déja vu all over again. Did the U.S. leaders learn anything from the disasters of Korea and Vietnam? Today’s scenario in Iraq and Afghanistan is all too familiar.
After costly commitment for more than a decade, American troops are mostly out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And once again, too often when confronted by the enemy, U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers drop their American weapons and flee.
Repeating what happened twice before, billions of dollars worth of U.S. equipment was left behind for the enemy. Proof of it is in current news pictures and video of armed terrorists waving black flags as they ride captured American tanks and trucks.
Philosopher George Santayana wrote the now all-too-familiar warning: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The escalating Middle East quagmire clearly indicates that today’s clueless politicians and generals continue to repeat the same errors that condemn the U.S. to once more pay in wasted blood and resources.