Everything Tet Is New Again

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Tigerhawk demolishes the suddenly ubiquitous meme that George Bush "accepted" that Iraq is like Vietnam. As usual, the press is wrong. That is not – at all – what was said. It is also not – at all – what Bush meant.

The President has apparently made news by "accepting" the Iraq-Vietnam comparison. Drudge has linked, and lefty blog Think Progress is making a big deal of it. Here is what President Bush said:

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

"He could be right," the president said, before adding, "There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."

Here's what Think Progress said he said:

President Bush is right to finally admit that violence in Iraq has reached a tipping point, and that the U.S. is not winning the war as he has claimed.

That is, of course, not what the President said. He merely agreed that there was an appropriate comparison to be made between the Tet offensive and the violence we are seeing in Iraq today. I agree. The question is, what was the lesson of Tet (the all-out offensive of the Viet Cong in early 1968, at the time of the "Tet" new year holiday in Vietnam)?

At the time the media perceived and promoted the Tet offensive as a great victory for the enemy. In an age when the network anchors deployed truly awesome power, Walter Cronkite destroyed Lyndon Johnson's chances for re-election when he editorialized that we were "mired in stalement". President Johnson declared "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America," and withdrew from the 1968 presidential campaign.

Tet, however, was not a military disaster for the United States. Quite to the contrary, history has revealed that the Tet offensive was in fact a crushing defeat for the Viet Cong, and effectively required that the Communists conquer the South by invasion from the North, rather than by civil insurgency. The Viet Cong were only able to turn a military disaster into strategic victory by persuading the American media that the United States was mired in stalement. With the domestic political support for the war fading fast, the United States decided to withdraw from Indochina, even though it would take Nixon and Kissinger another four years to accomplish it.

I have long argued that the media and the American left robbed America of victory, or at least of a different and better outcome in Vietnam. When the last helicopter left Saigon, we left behind a mess that condemned enormous numbers of people to a harsh death. The "Domino effect" that many pooh-poohed actually occurred. Our abandonment of our allies left the thugs in Vietnam and Cambodia a free hand. The thugs used it, and many died as a result.

A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq will KILL tens of thousands, if not substantially more than that. Potentially it could kill more – in reality – than the fictional number the Lancet study spewed up. But the left does not care. Despite their protestations, they simply do not care how many die so long as they get their way here. Just like they did not – and do not – care how many Vietnamese corpses they caused. Just like they did not – and do not – care how meaningless their own actions rendered the deaths of thousands of their own countrymen.

Tet was a disaster for the Viet Cong. It took the media and the American left to make it a victory. In that respect, Bush is exactly right. The media and the left are at it again in exactly the same fashion.

UPDATE: Others: Political Pit Bull, Riehl World View, Dinocrat, Newsbusters, Mudville Gazette,

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6 Responses to Everything Tet Is New Again

  1. James says:

    >I have long argued that the media and the American left robbed America of victory, or at least of a different and better outcome in Vietnam.

    I respectfully disagree. Your statement is too shallow. Too much, “it was their fault, not ours”, without any why’s and how’s.

    In Vietnam, the main fault lies with LBJ, his advisers, and a lot of the top staff at the Pentagon; The ones conducting the war. The great error they made to the American people was the psychological foundation on the progress of the war in general terms. “We are winning on the ground. They can’t beat us. Here is this weeks body count. The enemy is weak and can’t do anything, etc. ” On and on and on it went. In short, The government set itself up for something that the enemy was NOT suppose to be able to do – mount powerful attacks, and especially not attacks ACROSS the entire country of South Vietnam; after all, the government says they are beaten.

    What Tet did was break the governments selling point of the wars progress to the consumer, ie, the American citizen. America responded with shock, “You mean they can still fight? But we thought we were winning.”

    Tet destroyed the governments PR pitch. Because of Tet the government lost creditability in the eyes of the American people. Especially in the 1960’s where people saw the government in a different light, (Watergate hadn’t happened yet), most, (not all of course), trusted the government to a deeper level. Tet was a shock so bad that the government never recovered from it as far as being honest about something. It was like wood rot, slowly destroying a piece of wood weakening it.

    Everytime the government said something America raised an eyebrow and said, “How to I know your telling the truth?” That skepticism grew, not just about Vietnam, But the WHOLE fabric of American society.

    Now for Iraq. Iraq war is similiar in the same PR problem the government had in Vietnam. Too much “We are making progress” messages, but the war goes on and on WITHOUT a level of fighting being less from day to day. In short, America is now tilting toward the idea that they have been sold a bill of goods – all rotten. And it doesn’t help when the military says: “This war can’t be won in a military manner.” Ouch.

    Tet should be viewed though the prism of a psychological foundation applied to Iraq.

    The Iraq war’s foundation is crumbling, badly, and Bush isn’t helping.

    A quick summary about Vietnam war: The way it was fought doomed any chance for a military victory. One great reason was America let the enemy have a very safe base of operations. North Vietnam would never stop fighting as long as they KNEW they would never be invaded and lose control of the north. And as long as they had that base they never could have been defeated to the point of saying, “No more war.” It was the dumbest condition for a war the U.S. agreed to.

    [If I had a safe base I would fight 10, 100, 1000+ years and never quit as well.]

    In Iraq, oddly enough, twisted as it is, the Insurgents DO have a safe base to operate from. The entire country of Iraq; simply AND only simply, do to the fact, that there is not enough boots on the ground. They can fight and fight and fight forever. In Vietnam, you had 500,000 troops in the south; the north being safe ground; In Iraq, you have 140,000 troops (not all combat), and the entire country internally being safe to hide in.

    Wow. The Bush Administration violated the most sacred divine law of war that the most insane Roman emperor wouldn’t have violated: “Conquest is easy, Control is not; and without control all thy conquests are for naught.”

    Awesome. The Gods, they are a laughing.

    Thank you for the ability to post. It was a long post.


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  3. syn says:

    It is not conquest it is Liberation!

    Sad commentary on our liberal American culture that when Iraqis were liberated in 2003 finally given access to communicate with the modern liberal world, instead of risking their lives hiding satellite dishes on their rooftops, were greated with screaming anti-war, illiberal Leftist moonbats declaring on the tv, in books, magazines, music, movies and every other luxury liberal tool available to the high and mightly moonbats that neither the Iraqi people or the American people are worth the price of liberation.

    It is a betrayal of everything America stands for and believes. It is sickening to think that the loudest voices against Iraqi liberation from tyranny are those who have the greatest access to cultural influence, who own the mircophone, the camera, and the pen; the poet, the actor, the musician, the writer, the journalist.

    War is a nasty business especially when those who believe themselves culturally advanced and liberally-minded, who have all the freedoms their tiny hearts desire, who have all the wealth their greedy stomachs can consume will fight on behalf of destroying liberty for others.

    Liberalism is worthless if none is willing to fight for it and meanlingless when cultural icons fight to destroy it.

    God sheds tears for those who have betrayed their beliefs all for the purpose of self-righteous celebrity narcissism; the poet is the unacknowledged legislator and is killing humanity.

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