America the Delusional

Posted on Mon 05/26/2008 by


I’ve often wondered why the American public seems to believe one thing easily and with few exceptions while other things never seem to be resolved, is it politicians that fuel the flames of a story or event or is it the media that choose to string out a story and every so often dust it off and add a rumor to make it that much more believable until eventually it all becomes the truth.

During the Vietnam war one event/story sticks out in my mind where I believe the American people were duped by the media and I also believe it’s happening again but first the past.

The Tet Offensive: 30-31January 1968, the Tet offensive was launched across much of South Vietnam it was called the Tet offensive by the US press as it was launched at the start of the holiday of the same name. The North Vietnamese called it the General Offensive, General Uprising. Its stated goals were to convince the South Vietnamese Army to defect or stand aside and for the citizens of South Vietnam to rise up against their government. At its start the North’s forces consisted of 80,000 soldiers of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (better known as the Viet Cong or VC) and 200,000 members of the People’s Army of North Vietnam (better known in the West as the North Vietnam Army or NVA) plus 30,000 support or logistics troops. Over a period of some 2 months these troops along with 81,000 tons of supplies managed to move down the Ho Chi Minh trail.

While the US did notice this movement, the commanding General, Westmorland was convinced that the numbers were too high and that this was a diversion from the real Northern objective of Khe Sanh. At the time it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption as the North had spent the entire fall attacking border region outposts in large numbers convincing Westmorland that their intent was to capture the two Northern provinces in early January 1968.

Throughout December 1967 warnings were sent to Washington and to regional commanders outlining this increased enemy activity but the Northern regime had also smartly called for cease fire talks in exchange for the halting of Operation Rolling Thunder which was the all out bombing of the North. This call came on 30 December 1967 and had followed a unilateral declaration in October 1967 that the North would observe a 7-day truce from 27 January to 3 February to respect the holiday. The South matched that declaration and prepared to send 50% of its soldier on leave during the truce period.

When the battle began it was led by the VC with the NVA playing supporting roles. During the first two days of the attack more than 100 targets were struck all across the country and over the period of the next 5 days attacks continued to be launched in new locations but while initially surprised the South Vietnamese Army (better known as the ARVN) it fought back ferociously as did the US forces involved. Most attacks were defeated in short order with extremely high casualties inflicted on the North with the exception of Hue city which was occupied (with the exception of the ARVN HQ and the MACV HQ both of which held out) and became the face of the Tet offensive. Another famous and well known piece of the battle was the attack on the US Embassy compound which had only recently been completed the previous September. 14 Sappers attacked the Embassy by blowing a hole through the 8 foot high outer wall but their commander was killed during the initial entrance to the compound so the remaining troops had no idea what to do next and milled about the compound until Embassy staff eliminated all of the remaining attackers. They were inside the compound for a little less than 7 hours but the media reported that the Embassy had been overrun.

Towards the end of the battle for Hue which last 26 days and was the longest single battle of the war Walter Cronkite did more damage to the US war effort in Vietnam than any single enemy action before or after. He didn’t state as most people suggest today that the war was lost but he did say “We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds and further added we are mired in a stalemate that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory”

In February 1968 at the height of the worst casualties of the war, Gallup polls showed the US public was still supporting the war by a margin of 74% for the US action in Vietnam while 23% opposed it while a poll taken in early March after Cronkite’s so called the war is lost speech the polls showed that support had dropped to 54% supporting the war.

By the end of the Tet offensive in June 1968 the NVA and VC had lost 100,000 men, the number of wounded was never established. The number of killed in action was later confirmed in documents released after the war and captured after the battle. The VC all but ceased operations for almost a full year as it bore the brunt of the action while the NVA completed changed its approach to the war and moved away from all large scale operations. After the failure of the offensive the following was stated by General Tran Do who was the NVA commander in Hue, “In all honesty, we didn’t achieve our main objective, which was to spur uprisings throughout the South. Still we inflicted heavy casualties on the Americans and their puppets, and this was a big gain for us. As for making a big impact in the United States, it had not been our intention – but it turned out to be a fortunate result.”

During the time of the Tet offensive the US and ARVN losses were 6,328 killed in action and 20,663 wounded so while it was a big loss in life for the allies compared to the loss of at least 1/3 of all combined NVA and VC combat forces in the South the offensive was a rout for the allies and had it been followed up with a sweeping series of offensive and blocking operations along with an increase in bombing operations in the North the peace talks in Paris that began that May could have done so under a very different set of circumstances but between the Cronkite announcement, the stunned lack of response from the White House and finally the speech to the Nation on 31 March by President Johnson announcing his decision not to run for a second term was the beginning of the end of the public support for the war in Vietnam. One of the greatest battlefield victories of the war was turned into the greatest defeat and opened the way for losing the war.

So now today we have the Iraq war and the never ending media storm that tells us day after day the war is lost and it’s not just the media but congressional leaders actually not saying we might not achieve victory but the war is lost as did Harry Reid last year and the public has done a 180 degree about face in that roughly 60% of the public supported the war prior to its start and now roughly 60% are opposed and yet by all measureable accounts we have actually turned a corner and are not only winning but winning big yet the liberal press and the Democratic party continue to march to the defeatist drum.

So why can’t the media stick with the truth and let the people decide instead of only covering the explosions or deaths of US soldiers? Why can’t the Democrats see that every time they open their mouths they are demoralizing our soldiers and demeaning their ongoing sacrifices – well for them, it’s about partisan politics because if the war was going well they’d look like the fools they are and for the liberal media I believe its revenge time.

They believe that the Bush Administration duped them into believing the WMD intelligence so they now will believe nothing the US leadership says – a la Mr. Cronkite. Well it’s time that both these great institutions put the nation first and began talking about the success that we’re seeing everyday in Iraq. Whether it’s lower death tolls in every category to decreased violence to increased political activity Iraq is quickly becoming a big success story and is now in the second to last phase, which is moving from active offensive operations to support and overwatch operations. The Iraqi Army is finally becoming the fighting forces we’d hoped it would and is taking the fight to the enemy across the country.

I would expect this phase to last for at least another year while the Iraq Army continues to develop its combat support capability and the government continues to feel more like it won’t be thrown to the wolves at any moment by the US. The final phase will be the one the new President whoever he is gets to take credit for and that’s the reduced presence and training support role the US will be able to take up beginning in or around late 2009 and continuing until the policy makers say enough.

But is it enough that the US military has smashed Al Qaeda or the various militias and finally gotten a grip on the sectarian violence that did so much damage to the country, well according to the press it’s not and the public is no longer willing to look for the good and is only too eager to accept defeat once again. America doesn’t need a new President with a vision that includes failure on the cusp of victory, America needs a leader that stands up and does the right thing and that’s continue the mission until the mission is finished. We owe it to remember to the lessons of the past and not be deluded by the press and the Democratic Party on this one and see it through otherwise they will once again snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat.

On Memorial Day we talk about honoring veteran’s and their families but the best way to honor today’s veterans is to win. You honor sacrifice with victory in a just cause not with presumptive withdrawal for political reasons. Wake up Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, Reid, wake up Democratic Party, wake up America!