by citizen k
Sat Nov 5th, 2005 at 10:39:44 PM EST
51 years ago - this november, the French started operation castor which ended with the Vietnamese victory at Dienbienphu. In fact, one of the things that bind the US and France is our shared history of losing guerilla wars - France started first in Spain during the Napoleonic era - but the US and France have been tied together on several post WWII fiascos. High points include Eisenhower's sensible decision to refuse French requests for nuclear assistance during the collapse of Dienbienphu (of course, one wonders what Dick and Wolfie will do in the event of such a problem in Iraq) and the French government's contribution of Algeria experienced interrogation trainers to what later became called the School of the Americas. Isn't it grand that Salvadoran insurgents would learn about la mission civilitrice from US trained heirs to the Algerian war?
Here are some points from Professor Lovett's web page
The Status of the French Military
- The French could not use draftees to serve in Indochina.
- The French Command only had approximately 100,000 troops to draw upon.
- French foreign legionnaires, colonial troops, or from the Regular Army.
- The French would eventually use Vietnamese and that was hard for them and the Vietnamese.
I thought of Dienbienphu when I read this
cited in DailyKos (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/5/18230/5582)
In recent months, American officers have been saying it will be years before the Iraqi Army is able to operate on its own; in September, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, told the United States Senate that only one Iraqi battalion at that time was able to fight alone. President Bush has said a significant drawdown of the 160,000 American troops here will not take place until the Iraqis are capable of providing some security for their own country.
Well, the US has 160K soldiers, much better than 100K so there are, of course, no comparisons. The French used ex-Wermacht troops in Dienbienphu, the US employs ex Rhodesian and South African soldiers as mercenaries. Can we look forward to establishment of a major base in this far off corner of Iraq just before the summer sandstorm season begins?