Friday, February 16, 2007

Numbers II : What McCain "knows" about Tet '68

Map of Vietnam ~ circa 1967

Numbers again come into play as Congress continues the debate over the President's troop surge plan. As you may recall, a few days ago I took a look at numbers comparing the number of homicides in major US cities vs. the number of casualties that we have thus far in Iraq. I then took those same numbers and compared them to our troop losses in Vietnam. A gruesome comparison, I know, but one that truly needed to be looked at as Congress relentlessly reminds us of the US casualty total in Iraq in their statements on H.Con. Res. 63.

It seems that John McCain (R-AZ), as an '08 presidential candidate, felt the need to step into the spotlight and get some press in the middle of the oncoming Surge storm. I will blatantly tell my readers, I do not like McCain, for reasons that ironically lead back to Vietnam. It has been reported earlier this week by the AP and expounded on here by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, that McCain feared a Tet '68-like offensive, the turning point in Vietnam, which wielded more propaganda than collateral damage. It appears that McCain was skilfully taking a page from his North Vietnamese captors' playbook by making such a comparison. The Vietnamese used propaganda at all levels during the war, Jane Fonda and her followers are just one sad example. The Iraq insurgency is obviously a student of this same Vietnamese propaganda machine.

Farah quotes AP's report of McCain's Tet analogy with this brief summary;

"Tet, a massive invasion in 1968 of South Vietnam by Communist North Vietnamese, inflicted enormous losses (my emphasis) on U.S. and South Vietnamese troops and is regarded as a point where public sentiment turned sharply against the war."

Farah criticizes this quote by giving a numbers analysis complete with stats that someone should fax to McCain's camp ASAP. Read on ...

Some 1,536 U.S. troopers were killed in the weeks-long campaign. South Vietnamese troops lost an additional 2,788 troops. But compare those numbers with enemy losses!

According to the best statistics now available, some 45,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were killed in what was planned as a last-ditch, roll-of-the-dice effort to persuade Americans they could never win the war. Another 6,991 enemy soldiers were captured in the offensive.

In other words, no matter how you slice it, Tet was an unmitigated battlefield disaster for the enemy in Vietnam. But it proved to be an unmitigated media disaster for the U.S. at home.

As a student of the Vietnam War, I can assure you unequivocally that Vietnam was "lost" in the same fashion and with the same propaganda expertise that we are seeing today in Iraq. The positive is ignored while the press magnifies the casualties. Those of us old enough to remember will never forget the night that Walter Cronkite told America that we were losing the war in Vietnam. In that same vein today we see journalists beating their editors' doors down with gloom and doom at every turn of the page.

We see members of Congress referencing this same flawed gloom and doom journalism when they question high ranking DoD staff during hearings over the past few weeks, simply perpetuating the myth. Case in point, Sen. Carl Levin's (D-MI) obsession and later exaggeration of the intelligence community's use of the word "inappropriate" in a 2002 Pentagon briefing on the Iraq/Al-Qaeda connection, "has whipped into a political lather" as Douglas Fieth so appropriately states in the Albany Times Union today.

I highly recommend the Farah piece as it is overflowing with telling hindsight from Vietnam. McCain isn't the only one in Congress who should see this. Many of the "White Flag Republicans" need it as well. Along with a reminder, "Those who do not learn from History are doomed to repeat it."

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