Maybe it’s time for us to take a look at history, before we repeat our mistakes…
Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of American weapons and supplies often landed in the hands of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, during the Vietnam War, due to greed and corruption of individuals with access to those items (i.e. Corrupt American soldiers, ARVN soldiers, people working on American bases, etc.).
To avoid searches by American forces, contraband would be taken to Thailand and sold to the NVA and the VC. Once in Thailand, it was just a matter of heading north on the Ho Chi Minh Trail where eager buyers waited to receive those weapons, to use against American soldiers. This system of commerce was often referred to as ‘South Vietnamese Capitalism’, or the Black Market.
The Black Market has existed in every war, although seldom publicized by historians or official government versions of the facts. According to the Salem News, “Vietnam was our most corrupt war in history with a Mafia within our military stealing, not millions, but billions in food, weapons, uniforms, supplies of every kind… The culprits: Senior non-commissioned officers in the Army and Marines, some arrested but most promoted and retired honorably, some as multi-millionaires.”
After almost ten years of war in Iraq, honoring an agreement brokered by George W. Bush, the U.S. removed all American troops from Iraq. Keeping troops there beyond that time was not possible, since PM Maliki refused to provide the U.S. with immunity, a requirement for U.S. troops to remain on foreign soil. While in Iraq, the U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting that war, building bases, equipping and training the Iraqi army, and re-building the country. American troops left Iraq December 15, 2011 in the hands of what was believed to be very well equipped and well trained Iraqi armed forces.
That belief turned out to be an illusion, when In June of 2014, Iraqi soldiers and police dropped their weapons and ran away from a fraction of their numbers in militant jihadists According to CNN , in Mosul alone, 800 jihadists ran off 30,000 soldiers and police.
Since then, ISIS has continued to roll across Iraq and Syria, capturing territory, oil fields, and military bases. With captured fighter jets and choppers, ISIS pilots are being trained by Iraqi pilots who have abandoned their post to join the jihadists.
According to this article in the World Tribune and this article in Reuters, ISIS is forming its’ own air force. The third largest military base in Iraq has been captured by ISIS , according to an Iraqi news source. The base includes a training camp, the base of the seventh division of the Iraqi army, “…tanks, heavy weapons, munitions and stores, as well as spare parts, and different military supplies.”
In an article posted on the Huffington Post , ISIS captured “….at least one cache of weapons (including grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers) airdropped by U.S.-led coalition forces that were meant to supply Kurdish militiamen…”.
According to the Business Insider, “…the group controls as many as 11 oil fields in both Syria and Iraq, analysts say. It is selling oil and other goods through generations-old smuggling networks under the very noses of the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq as well as authorities in Turkey and Jordan.” The article further states, “….their total profits from oil exceed $3 million a day.”
It is obvious that ISIS has abundant finances, should they desire to purchase weapons, but apparently, they don’t need to. Their growing supply includes entire military bases, left behind by a fleeing Iraqi army, and some have even “fallen from the sky”. Is it any wonder that they believe God is on their side?
We should take these facts into account, as we endeavor to arm the Free Syrian Army. They may have been ‘vetted’ and determined to be our ally….but, didn’t we believe that about the Iraqi army, as well?
With elections approaching, many U.S. politicians are calling for an escalation of American involvement, including sending even more weapons to the area, and even having American ‘boots on the ground’. Before we do that, we should remember that it is highly unlikely those politicians (or their families) will be part of those boots on the ground, and it would be a good idea to take a hard look at events past, and consider just who those weapons will be ultimately used against.