Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yes, Iraq IS Like Vietnam

But not for the reasons reporters think, or are willing to admit.

From the Washington Post:
GREENSBORO, N.C., Oct. 18 -- President Bush said Wednesday that the current surge of violence in Iraq "could be" comparable to the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, a succession of battles that became a milestone because it helped turn the American public against the conflict and its political leadership.
What the WaPo won't come right out and say is that it wasn't the Tet Offensive itself that had such a devastating effect upon civilian morale, it was the abjectly incompetent reporting of the event by American journalists.

To their credit, Washington Post reporters Michael A. Fletcher and Peter Baker do concede this much:
Historians consider Tet a military defeat for the Viet Cong because it lost so many men and captured no significant objectives. But it was also a powerful propaganda victory for the Viet Cong, because it brought the bloody war home to many Americans watching television.
"It" (the offensive) did not, by itself, constitute a "propaganda victory." It took inaccurate, hysterical, and sensationalistic reporting to "[bring] the bloody war home."

Tet ended the military effectiveness of the Viet Cong; they were never again able to field a force above company strength after their losses during the offensive. American media either never realized this, or simply ignored it, as they largely ignored the bloodbath that followed Congress' final betrayal of our allies, when funding to the Republic of Vietnam was cut off, and the South Vietnamese were left to face a massive, Soviet-backed invasion from the North. Their soldiers had three rounds apiece and medics were rewashing bandages for reuse.

In "The Myth of a Liberation", Truong Nhu Tang, former Justice Minister of the VC provisional government writes:
I asked the four-star general standing next to me where were the famous Viet Cong divisions 1, 5, 7, and 9. The general, Van Tien Dung, commander-in-chief of the North Vietnamese army, answered coldly that the armed forces were now “unified”. At that moment I began to understand my fate and that of the NLF [National Liberation Front - the political wing of the Viet Cong]. In Vietnam we often said: “Take the juice of the lemon and throw away the peel.” On that dais the years of communist promises and assurances revealed themselves for the propaganda they were. Victory Day celebrated no victory for the NLF, or for the South.
The refusal of the Vietnam era journalists to look back and admit that they were used as pawns by Ho Chi Minh has spawned a whole new generation of ignorance, eager to repeat their elders' mistakes in Iraq.

And that is how Vietnam and Iraq are alike, in the failures of the American mainstream media.