Is There Another 'Tet' in Our Future?

Could it be the end of January 2005 will come to resemble the end of January 1968, in more ways than just the date? Information that I am receiving from connections inside Iraq, and reading between the lines of news published here, and in the foreign press, the likelihood seems to be growing for a repeat performance of that military debacle of 1968.

In 1968, the Communists launched a major surprise offensive against American and South Vietnamese forces on the eve of the lunar New Year celebrations. Provincial capitals throughout the country were seized, garrisons simultaneously attacked and, perhaps most shockingly, in Saigon the U.S. Embassy was invaded. While actually a military defeat for the communist forces, Tet marked the turning point in the war for the hearts and minds of the American public.

President Lyndon Johnson and his war party, using a compliant media, had been continually telling the American public that there was a "light at the end of the tunnel." Tet proved that light to be a train. Who could ever forget the broadcasts that followed, especially the one by media icon, Walter Cronkite.

The Pentagon, and this administration's compliant media, has consistently told us our military is facing forces that number from 5,000 to as high as 20,000 of the enemy in Iraq. President Bush says there are a "small number of insurgents opposing the election, because they fear freedom." Compared with the statement by Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani, it is not hard to tell something is seriously wrong here. “I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people.” Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers.

Although there has been some question as to the accuracy of the translation, some experts believe the figures given by Shahwani to be more near the truth than the administration's claims.

President Bush has been warned by his intelligence agencies that the insurgents are winning the war. Yet, he just keeps muddling along. Is Bush incapable of facing the truth?

Both defense analyst Dr. Bruce Hoffman, who served as an advisor to the US occupation in Iraq, who now works for US-based think-tank RAND Corporation, and Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, believe Shahwani's numbers to be believable.

Cordesman says, “People are fed up after two years, without improvement. People are fed up with no security, no electricity, people feel they have to do something. The army was hundreds of thousands. You’d expect some veterans would join with their relatives; each one has sons and brothers. What are you going to call the situation here (in Baghdad) when 20 to 30 men can move around with weapons and no one can get them in Adhamiyah, Dura and Ghazaliya.”

Could our leaders have forgotten that the Iraqi Army, disbanded in the early stages of the war, without thought as to where they would go or whom they would side with, numbered over 400,000? It would be insane to not believe a large portion would be loyal to the insurgents: they might even remember the "Turkey Shoot" of the first Gulf War.

Speaking of the farce that was the destruction of Fallujah, Cordesman commented, “What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed… and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas.” 

The statement, "We feel right now that we have, as I mentioned, broken the back of the insurgency" as said by Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler, is nothing more than so much bull pie. That old "broken-backed" insurgency seems to be doing pretty damn well. Just count the number of U.S. casualties since that lie was foisted on the American public.

If Shahwani is correct, and there is little reason to believe otherwise, our forces in Iraq are in for some serious problems before the election. Trying to cover a country the size of California with 150,000 soldiers and Marines is hard enough if you outnumber the enemy; if you don't, it could become a nightmare.

Our military is handicapped in so many ways. First, there is the handicap of having to operate under the supervision of idiots who have not a minute of combat experience among them. Obviously, they deem themselves superior to those who have, and therefore have no understanding of what a soldier endures in war. Second, there is the clinging to the practice of second-generation warfare against an enemy who employs fourth-generation tactics. A primer can be found here.

The most serious handicap is the same as what kept our military from being prepared for the Tet Offensive of 1968: the inability to analyze intelligence that is contrary to the lies of leadership. In late 1967 there was a plethora of intelligence that indicated a major military undertaking was in the works in South Vietnam, both by the Viet Cong and the NVA. Traffic had increased significantly on the Ho Chi Minh trails leading from the north into the south. The powers that be, both on the ground in Vietnam, and in the Pentagon, did not see the offensive in the Central Highlands around Dak To in November of 1967, or the attack on the Marines at Khe Sanh, for what it was: a masking of movements to facilitate the Tet Offensive.

Any intelligence that revealed this buildup was discounted, because it went against the propaganda that was emanating from the Pentagon: the enemy was not strong enough to attempt such a move.

I can assure you the same is true today. No one is willing to put their military career on the line and contest the company line on the enemy in Iraq and his capabilities, no matter what intelligence they have to the contrary.

Our enemy is much more cognizant of our history than are our leaders. A young intelligence officer, now home from Iraq, told me that when he brought up the similarities of what was happening with the insurgency in Iraq, and what had happened in Vietnam during the war, he was ridiculed by his commander for bringing up "ancient" history, and told, "shut up, Lieutenant." When this same intelligence officer questioned some of the tactics being used, such as firing into buildings to see if anyone would return the fire, and the likelihood that would create more insurgents, he was accused of "going native." Such is the mentality of those who follow the gospel according to saints, Rummy, Cheney and Bush.

In late January of 2005, as in late January of 1968, we have the bastard child called illegitimate war, sired by lies and delivered from the womb of the mother called the omnipotent State, with identical dynamics: a psychopathic administration and war department, a military led by political whores who would not give credence to any intelligence that contradicts the psychobabble of that administration, a growing resistance that has been terribly underestimated, and a nation whose majority is asleep at the wheel.

God save our fine soldiers, at least those who have seen this war for what it is.

January 14, 2005