Monday, October 27, 2003

Tet 2003

The appearance of the moon in its right phase signaled the start of a joyful holiday for a nation that believed it had at last put the worst of war behind it.

From the memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran.

It is 2:00 a.m., January 30, 1968, the beginning of the Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet. Celebrated with reunions, feasting and firecrackers, Tet begins with the new moon in January.

  From the New York Times

"If someone sees the crescent, he will go to his local sheik with two witnesses and there will be a list of Thuraya phone numbers for sheiks in different towns and sheiks in Baghdad," said Moayed al-Adami, imam of the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad, a revered shrine for Iraq's Sunni Muslims...

Baghdad, October 24 -- Iraq's American overseers said Friday that they would lift the nighttime curfew on Baghdad's five million residents beginning Sunday, to accommodate the country's Muslims during Ramadan and demonstrate that the country is returning to normal despite the persistent armed resistance to the occupation. ...

From the memoirs of Michael Rovedo

January 31, 1968 - Low clouds cover the sky, early on Wednesday morning, when the Tet Offense begins in Saigon. Five enemy battalions of between 2000 and 2500 had infiltrated into the Saigon area. Attacks are spearheaded by the C-10 Sapper Battalion. The plan calls for 35 battalions of 4000 locals to attack the following six major targets:

The Vietnamese Joint General Staff Headquarters The Independence Palace (President Thieu's office) The American Embassy Tan Son Nhut Airport The Vietnamese Navy Headquarters The National Broadcasting Station The 716th MP Battalion, with approximately 1000 men, was responsible for the security of the 130 American installations in the greater Saigon area. Only one third were on duty, even though they were warned of trouble. Flak vests had been issued and they were doubled up on shift.

Only 25 of the 300 Vietnamese MP's in Saigon were available.


  From the New York Times

An American colonel was killed and at least 16 people were wounded early Sunday when a barrage of air-to-ground missiles from a homemade launchpad slammed into a highly protected hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz was staying.

American military officials said they did not believe Mr. Wolfowitz was the target but they called the attack carefully planned.

From the Scotsman

The expected Ramadan rampage began in Baghdad today with multiple car bombings including a suicide attack on the Red Cross headquarters that killed at least ten people.

The bomber drove an ambulance packed with explosives into security barriers outside the Red Cross building in the Iraqi capital and then detonated his deadly cargo.

US Brigadier General Mark Hertling said three other vehicles exploded in the Baghdad area, at least two of them against police stations, on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Iraqi police reported about a dozen Iraqis were killed in the three other blasts.


From a review of Tet! The Turning Point in the Vietnam War

Tet might have been won on the battlefield, but it was an epic defeat on American televisions and in world newspapers. The Tet offensive's primary aim was to cause political upheaval in America to give the Communists a victory exactly like what defeated the French a decade earlier.

  From the Associated Press

But the bold blow at the heart of the American presence here clearly rattled U.S. confidence that it is defeating Iraq's shadowy insurgents.

The assault pointed up the vulnerability of even heavily guarded U.S. facilities in Iraq, where American forces sustain an average of 26 lower-profile attacks daily.

From the Independent

In a daring attack anti-American guerrillas yesterday fired a barrage of rockets at the al-Rashid hotel, a symbol of the US occupation, in the heart of Baghad, killing one US soldier and wounding 15 other people, mostly Americans.


From the website

Saigon was the center for most if not all of the news agencies that were covering the war in South Vietnam. Tet offensive of 1968 was the first time, during the war, that actual street fighting took place in the major cities. ... The news media were able to capture this street fighting on tape in addition to the attack on the American Embassy. ... The reports led the American people to think that we were losing the war in Vietnam and that the Tet Offensive was a major victory for North Vietnam. This was not the case. The VC suffered such high casualties that they were no longer considered a fighting force and their ranks would have to be replaced by North Vietnamese regulars. 

The misreporting, along with Communist and North Vietnamese agents in the United States, led to demonstrations in the streets by Americans in protest of the war. Gen. Giap later wrote in his book, that the news media reporting and the demonstrations in America surprised them. Instead of seeking a conditional surrender, they would now hold out because America's resolve was weakening and the possibility of victory could be theirs.

  From the Los Angeles Times:

Attack Is a Media Coup for Iraq Resistance, Experts Say

"They are picking targets for their media value".

From a film review of 8mm:

By strict definition, a 'snuff film' would involve the commission of murder for the sole purpose of capturing the act on film with the hopes of some sort of commercial distribution.

Karl Marx, from the The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, commenting on the attempt of a tyrant to break up a democratic assembly and reinstate a dynasty.

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”