Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Battle For Saigon: Tet 1968


Reading a very detailed Vietnam War book -- Keith W. Nolan's The Battle for Saigon: Tet 1968 (2002, 1996). Lots of points relevent to Iraq. First, when the U.S. wages war, enemy "body counts" have far less impact on the American psyche than the American dead and wounded. Second, the gap between rhetoric, hope and reality is usually wide. Whether light at the end of the tunnel or "surge" or "wait until September for a partial interim report and even then will be too soon to really know" approach, it all comes down to the same thing:

Given its inherent flaws, the U.S. War effort would eventually burn out of its own accord, and once Westmoreland's sand castles had washed away, there would be nothing to stop Hanoi: the theater commander had neither clamped down on the self-defeating venality of the Siagon regime, nor made a prioroty of upgrading the capbilities of the ill-led, chicken-stealing ARVN. . . (Nolan, Battle for Saigon).

This is Nolan's assessment of the reality on the ground in Vietnam immediately before the Tet Offensive. The event itself turned out to be a military defeat for the Vietcong and North Vietnam, but a political disaster for South Vietnam and the United States, as well. A real turning point in that war. By 2007, we're surely experiencing another real turning point in the Iraq War.

Today's Rune: Movement.

11 comments:

Gloria said...

You're a wonderful writer. Rock on, brother man!

the walking man said...

Actually in 1968 there were 3 offensive operations against American and allied forces, with TET being the second and the first coming during May, I believe and the third a cease fire over the Christmas period.

All 3 were repulsed but like you said not without great damage to the American will to win, even the hard hats in the country began to turn around in their support for a way because by then there were well over 25,000 American dead or MIA.

That too was a war run from a political rather then a National Security interest. We already knew we Had the great soviet in a checkmate position with Mutually Assured Destruction (wholesale slaughter of both Soviet and American populations.)

Westmoreland may have been a great field commander, his men loved him like those of Patton did, but his hands were tied from the White House and the Foreign service with Nixon's peace with honor rhetoric.

Now it is the same thing 5 years after our illegal invasion into a sovereign nation the American people are tired of the fight, not because Hussein wasn't a prick, but because Dick Cheney has no honor and the lies we were told in the run up to the war. None of which any thinking person believed anyway.

Now that the Brits and their minuscule force of 5,500 men are trying to figure a way out and have admitted that oil did figure into their thinking on going in , in the first place there is a psychological TET going on in this country with only 19% in one poll of the most conservative right still believing that Bush, decided that Cheney had given him the right alternative in response to 9/11.

As i have said before and although I am opposed to this and every civil and international conflict going on in the world today from Chechniya to Darfur, Somalia , to Iraq...If you are going into fight fight to kill and kill all, we have convicted and imprisoned more American service men and woman than we have of the Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons, why to show the world that we are fair?

What bullshit, carpet bomb the hell out of the Afghanistan poppy regions,and insurgent areas and force the population to submit to totalitarian rule by American government while sealing off the entire borders of Iraq and execute anyone who protests. Stupid ass Cheney started this war and Bin Laden would most likely capture a nuke in his ass.

Then you can talk about regional stability, if no one is afraid of the big dog then it's no better than a Yorkie.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Although "The Shrub" was a "C" student, he probably had a "D" in history; Or should I be talking about Cheney?

Charles Gramlich said...

The Tet Offensive showed clealry how war is more a political beast than a military one. This has always seemed strange to me but I just don't think in the convoluted ways of politics.

the walking man said...

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2007/070207a.html

This is a blog that references a series done by the Washington Post about the power of the Vice President and how he presents issues to the decider the thing is Cheney picks the options that the Decider has to pick from.

Johnny Yen said...

The analogies of this war are remarkable. The murder of the Diem brothers started South Vietnam into an irrevocable slide; like defeating Hussein, the aftereffects were totally miscalculated.

It's ironic that the Tet offensive pretty much wiped out the Viet Cong, and from then on, the war became more of the set-piece World War II battle that the American military was prepared to fight.

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