Just Above Sunset
January 16, 2005 - When is Tet this year?

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Bob Patterson writes –


What if Osama has been reading the liberal media and knows that comparisons to Vietnam cause strife?


Could he signal the Iraqi branch to do an all out attack that would coincide with this year's Tet?


Would the liberal media blow a fuse with that one?


Tet is Saturday, February 05, 2005 of course.  That’s the Lunar New Year (Tet 2005 t-shirts available here) and it is the start of the year of the rooster.  Add bad rooster jokes and puns if you must.


Pat Buchanan argues Bush is nearing his Tet moment


And he ends with this -


… Elections are now three weeks away. But Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, U.S. ground commander, says four provinces – including Baghdad – are still unsafe for voting. And Rumsfeld is sending retired Gen. Gary Luck to Iraq to conduct an "open-ended review" of U.S. war policy.


Dissent in the U.S. establishment is growing louder. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, fears the elections, by giving the Shia majority dominance of Iraqi politics, could lead to "incipient civil war." Scowcroft thinks America's best bet may be to turn Iraq over to the United Nations or NATO, whose presence might be less detested and inflammatory than our own.


Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, seems even more pessimistic: "I do not think we can stay in Iraq in the fashion we are now in. ... If it cannot be changed drastically, it should be terminated." Brzezinski estimates it would take 500,000 troops, $500 billion and resumption of the draft to pacify Iraq.


Indeed, if there are 30,000 enemy fighters in Iraq, the United States, with 150,000 troops in country, lacks the forces to defeat them. By the old measure of guerrilla war, a defender needs a 10-to-one advantage.


If the insurgents can put 10,000 more fighters into the field, we would then need 400,000 troops to defeat them. It is difficult to believe President Bush intends any such commitment.


Thus, all now depends on the Iraqis – for it is, after all, their country and future. But, while the Shia and Kurds may be willing to fight for a government that empowers the Shia and gives Kurds the autonomy they have long sought, why should Sunnis fight for a regime that dispossesses them of the position and power they have held since Ottoman days?


And so, reality intrudes. Where once, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice and Bush marched in lockstep with the neocons, U.S. national interests and Bush political interests seem now to diverge from the neocon agenda of more troops in Iraq and expanding the war to Syria or Iran. Rumsfeld appears to have recognized this truth and begun to act on it. Hence, the Weekly Standard calls for his firing.


President Bush now approaches the crossroads LBJ reached in December 1967. Then, Gen. William Westmoreland came home to tell LBJ he needed 200,000 more troops, in addition to the 500,000 already committed. A war-weary LBJ said no. Came then the Tet Offensive, and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson was broken.


Bush is nearing his Tet moment. After the Jan. 30 elections, he will have three options. Persevere in a no-win war with 150,000 U.S. troops bleeding indefinitely until America turns on him, his policy and his party. Send in tens of thousands of fresh U.S. troops to crush the insurgency as we undertake a years-long program of training Iraqis to defend their own democracy. Third, find an honorable exit, and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.


The success or failure of the Bush presidency will likely hang on his decision. For which, he can thank the neoconservatives.


But Iraq is not like Vietnam at all.  Or so we’re told.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Paris readers add nine hours....