Assumption of Command

14 April 2005

Tet Fantasy (again)

Recently I wrote about the comparison of what is going on here in Iraq with the 1968 Tet offensive. I stated the fact, not a personally drawn conclusion, that Tet was the tuning point in the war, even though the US crush the VC. It turned the war because the media portrayed the VC as a determined enemy instead of a enemy had made an unsuccessful desperate attack. This in turn caused a huge lack of support on the home front which later brought the war to an end.

Some people didn't like the facts. (I was called a partisan hack. But that is beside the point) Yesterday I ran into this article by Austin Bay:

Al Qaeda Remains Trapped in a Vietnam Fantasy:

US Navy Capt. Hal Pittman, CENTCOM's senior spokesman, told me Tuesday that the terrorists seek media coverage of these attacks "to empower their cause, break the momentum of representational government (in Iraq) and dissuade the coalition to continue its support."

Zarqawi's gang "used a fire truck at Husaybah as a car bomb. That's theatrics if you've ever seen theatrics," Pittman said. "They're trying to create a spectacular event, overrun a patrol or border outpost somewhere, an event with huge media value that would promote their cause and make them seem more powerful than they are."

At Abu Ghraib and Husaybah, Zarqawi failed militarily. He didn't get his scare headlines, either. Short of detonating a nuclear weapon in Baghdad, a ground attack on the Green Zone that succeeds in cracking the US embassy and taking hostages is the only "Tet" card Zarqawi has. The Green Zone, however, is Iraq's hardest target.
The US Military is saying that Zarqawi is trying to turn the media just the way Tet did in 1968. But this time it is failing. The Bad guys want the media on their side because they know just how powerful they can be in influencing public opinion back home.

Obviously, my original post is right on point.

Update: I give credit where credit is due. Kevin, in the trackback, makes a good point:
However, my observation is that this is kind of a "no kidding" policy isn't it? I mean we have an entire group at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars doing exactly the same thing right? We have "embedded" reporters who are getting filtered information (for the most part), we have a huge PSYOPS group who do nothing but put out propaganda and we set up radio and TV stations.

Seems to me that this is just "normal warfare" in the 21st century. I guess we cannot call it unfair when the enemy tries to fight us with our own tactics.
No, we can't.

Yes, The United States Military conducts operations to win the hearts and minds of the peace loving people of Iraq. That is a big part of our strategy now. We want them on our side. We train our soldiers to understand that their actions have repercussions in regards to public opinion both here and at home.

If I was in charge of the bad guys I would be trying to do things that get the US media's attention. From their prospective it is a smart move.

What I don't like is the major media's propensity to report only the bad and destructive things going on here. Don't get me wrong, they should report on the bad things. I don't think it would be right for them to ignore stuff. But, they should also report on the positives with just as much vigor. But I guess that won't get any ratings. So therefore, it isn't newsworthy. Sigh.