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history lessons for dummies

If I see one more post comparing today's Iraq bombings to the Tet Offensive I am going to blow up the internet.

There's a big difference between 70,000 troops marching into 13 cities and a few crazed suicide bombers trying to resist what others in their country want: freedom.

The attack by the Vietcong stunned the country as well as the president. I don't think anyone is stunned by the suicide bombings in Iraq. We know that there are enemies among us there. We know that there are factions that want to keep a Saddam-like government in control.

In the Tet Offensive, the Vietcong lost about 10,000 men. The U.S. lost 500.

500. In one shot. We have not lost that many soldiers by a longshot since this war began, nevermind in one day.

Here's what gets me about the people who are screaming "VIETNAM!" over and over: they are screaming it gleefully. It's an "I told you so" attitude and with every soldier that dies, every bomb that explodes, they lick their lips watch the polls, hoping Bush's numbers go down.

And perhaps that's what they mean by comparing this to the Tet Offensive; after all, that was probably the moment that Lyndon B. Johnson lost any chance he had at a second term. Which is why the Bush haters are hoping this is just like Vietnam.

[Lots of info on the Tet Offensive here.]


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Michele is threatening to blow up the Internet over claims that today's Iraqi bombings are the same thing as the Tet Offensive. There are two problems there: 1) the Tet Offensive was actually a major US victory, although many don't... [Read More]


Michele, a case can also be made that the Tet offensive was the North Vietnamese's way of eliminating the Viet Cong. Nearly all the communists killed were Viet Cong. For the North to be successful, it had to remove the cadre of trained southern revolutionaries, and turn the conflict from a guerrilla war into a military campaign. See also what Hilter did to Roehm and the Brownshirts.

The goal of the North was conquest of the south, not a successful revolution that would have left southerners in charge.

At least some historians believe this.

"In the Tet Offensive, the Vietcong lost about 10,000 men. The U.S. lost 500."

True. The Tet Offensive was, militarily, a failure for the Vietcong. It's only seen as a U.S. defeat today because Walter Cronkite pronounced it a disaster for the U.S.

Tet Offensive? You mean the one where the NVA and the VC were decimated as a coherent fighting force? Is that the comparison they are making?

If they mean a series of attacks that are reported in such a fashion as to damage national confidence, well, that's more spot on. But this ain't Tet.

a few crazed suicide bombers trying to resist what others in their country want: freedom.

Two things:

1) This is way beyond "a few crazed suicide bombers". They set up a fucking rocket launcher in a public park, and nobody noticed. What does that tell you? It tells me that there's a level of organization involved that does in fact merit the Vietcong comparison; and that, to use Mao's famous metaphor, the fish are swimming in the ocean.

2) Some people might say that attacks on a 100,000-strong foreign occupying army are blows for freedom.

I try to generally support the war, but not get excessively caught up in the day to day. Watching a lot of TV news and even reading a lot of news isn't really good for you.

And I was a journalist for years. Most things evolve over time and it becomes apparent much later. The day to day, unless it's in my face, is inherently distorting.

My point is "let 'em all yabber on" as long as our country stays the course.

2) Some people might say that attacks on a 100,000-strong foreign occupying army are blows for freedom.

Some might be idiots.

It's only seen as a U.S. defeat today because Walter Cronkite pronounced it a disaster for the U.S.

What it did was show that the government and military were lying when they told the country that victory was within reach, and the enemy was close to collapse.

Oi, don't feed the troll--

You're quite right, Michele - the Iraqi resistence obviously hasn't organized yet.

“Some people might say that attacks on a 100,000-strong foreign occupying army are blows for freedom.”

Innocent Iraqis and foreign aid workers were targeted by a group of Baathists and imported mujahideen. Like all terrorists, these 'fighters' aren't trying to stop oppression, they’re trying to create more of it.

Some people say that these attacks are blows for freedom – the Baathists, the Islamic fundamentalists ‘anti-war’ activists and International ANSWER, who says:

"The anti-war movement here and around the world must give its unconditional support to the Iraqi anti-colonial resistance." The group, whose prodigious organizing ability allowed it to lead much of the antiwar movement, is organizing "Bring the Troops Home Now" committees across the country to circulate petitions demanding the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Here’s how an Iraqi describes this blow for freedom:

My brother came home from school very early this morning and told us all about it. His high school is about 200 meters from the targetted site. He told us that blood was all over the place and people from the area were putting injured kids from the school into taxis taking them to hospitals. Parents were panicking trying to find their children among the mess.

I don't know anything else. I saw some footage from the scene on Al-Arabiyah station and as usual they were talking about the f*ing 'resistance' and trying to justify the whole act. I couldn't stand hearing that anymore. Chickens. I can see what they are trying to do. The Red Cross has been working in Iraq since 1980 and it has never been attacked before. So why now? A spokesman from the Red Cross was talking and he said that the organization will consider abandoning all activities in Iraq. Just like the UN. Everyone I talked to today was dismayed. I'll write more about it later. I don't feel like it right now.

According to CNN, there are 402 confirmed coalition deaths as of today, most of which are US soldiers.

These soldiers were put in harm’s way under false pretenses. They were put in harm’s way because Iraq was an “imminent” threat because of WMD’s. Liberation was a secondary issue that only came into the spotlight when the Iraqi threat to the US was shown to be very much less than “imminent.”

Now that we are there, why we are there is irrelevant to a very large degree. We must provide all the support and resources necessary to end the violence and protect our troops. If we must send another 50,000 or 100,000 troops, then let’s get it done. Let’s not waste time negotiating and politicking with the UN and other countries while 1.3 US soldiers are killed each day (per CNN). I also firmly believe we need to get out of Iraq, but not before we finish what we started.

Our leaders must put aside their egos to get this done. Rumsfeld will be embarrassed no doubt—he did fire/force out a general that claimed the manpower requirements were underestimated. Bush, Powell and Rice will be shown to have sold the American people a bill of goods or that they accepted incredibly faulty intelligence at face value with no critical review or thought. This is a far more acceptable consequence in my opinion than 1.3 American soldiers dying per day.

After about the same length of time US troops have been in Iraq, the US 8th Army went into full retreat in Korea. Soldiers were slaughtered by the thousands in a few days, entire regiments were wiped out, the Army 2nd ID was destroyed and the 1st Marines fought for survival surrounded by 6 Chinese divsions. But amazingly the troops regrouped and kicked the commies out of S Korea.

Thayli: Might want to ask Vo Nguyen Giap whether or not things were rosy for his side in '68 when he planned the offensive.

Norm: Yeah, yeah, and the Baltic States were always a part of the USSR.


First of all, there are not 402 combat deaths in Iraq. Accidents, illness and life kill a certain number of members of the military every year, just like they do average Americans. From 1990-2000, we averaged 519 accidental deaths a year. Blogged here. To count the non combat deaths as a result of the Liberation of Iraq is a serious error.

Secondly, Norm, show me one place where any member of the Administration stated that Iraq was an “imminent” threat. That is a falsehood, perpetuated by the loony left.

Lastly, it has been demonstrated that, for example, if you are a young black man your chances of being killed are higher in Washington D.C. than they are in Iraq. You personally tolerate a death rate far higher than that in Iraq every day, in New York City, in Southern California (13 dead in two days just in fires) and in many other parts of the country. 117 people a day die on our highways. 1,212 die from smoking.

Why pretend that a soldier's life is more valuable than an inner city kid on drugs? Soldiers engage in combat; it's their job. It's dangerous and they know it. Pity the poor soldier, while city streets run with blood? Kinda racist, isn't it?

At the risk of causing you to hurl on your shoes Michele, Yep, I've got another 'Tet analogy' up over at my place - but I don't see the similarity as a military one, per se, but an alignment of a desperate bunch with a complaint media tool.

The real victory of Tet was the number it did on US public Opinion.

I don't think it's the Ba'athists that are trying to recreate Tet - its the media.


You are correct. Only 227 US combat deaths out of a total US death toll of 349. Also, 2014 US wounded one way or another. Hope being right makes you feel better about this.

Also, if I knew the US had an extra $87 billion, or more, available...darn right I'd want to spend it on our domestic problems. I think tying this to racism is a stretch though. I think $87 billion could help the problems you mentioned a lot, do you think it would help?

What picture do these quotes paint for you?

If we have reason to believe someone is preparing an attack against the United States, has developed that capability, harbors those aspirations, then I think the U.S. is justified in dealing with that, if necessary, by military force.
Dick Cheney
Meet The Press
September 9, 2002

I see the world the way it is. Saddam Hussein is a threat to America. He's a threat to our friends.He's a man who said he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, yet he has them.
George W. Bush
Remarks by the President at Illinois
November 3, 2002

Saddam Hussein is not disarming. He is a danger to the world. He must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said and the Prime Minister has constantly said this issue will come to a head in a matter of weeks, not months.
George W. Bush
Joint Press conference with Tony Blair
January 31, 2003

It is difficult to believe there still could be any question in the minds of reasonable people open to the facts before them. The threat is there to see. ... Really the only question remaining is: what will we do about it
Donald Rumsfeld
Press conference
February 9, 2003

We have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction - that is what this war was about, and is about - and we have high confidence it will be found.
Ari Fleisher
News Interactive
April 11,2003

I particularly like Mr. Fleishers quote.

A soldiers life is not more valuable. However, the soldier's life is dependent upon his leaders, military and government both, doing the right thing and providing all resources and support not to put his life in anymore danger than is absolutely necessary for the security of the US.

Anyway, I'm tired so I'm done.

Oh, and by the bye, Normie - want a band-aid for that nasty hook mark in your cheek? Oh, nevermind, no need, you swallowed it whole.

Thalysxtys or however its spelled - nevermind that as an organization, the VC more or less did collapse after Tet (they were mostly dead), and the North was much more willing to deal for time afterwards, cause it took them months to prep for Tet, and they knew it would take many more months before they could reconstitute enough force to be a significant threat again to the south. And they weren't a significant force until the only thing they were facing was an abandoned, dispirited South Vietnamese Army low on ammo and leadership.

Hey, Norm:
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force – if necessary – to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

Sen. John F. Kerry, D-MA. Oct. 2002.

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA. Sept. 27, 2002.

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV. Oct. 3, 2002.

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do"

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA. Oct. 10, 2002.

None of your quotes use the term that you suggested, imminent. And the Democrats quoted above, and many more, BTW, agree with the Administration that Iraq had WMD and a WMD program.

Oh and hey, Norm:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

I've got a few comments in a similar vein over on Iberian Notes.

You know, it's times like these that I think of what would happen if the media of today were active back during a certain German offensive in late 1944. Then I start trembling in fright.