The Terrorists’ Tet

 COL Bay doesn’t want you to fall for it again.  You fell for it hook, line and sinker last time, unless you weren’t around back then or were too young to pay attention, in which case your parents and grandparents did, with few exceptions.

Sometime within the next six months or so, al Qaeda or Saddamist terrorists will attempt a Tet offensive.. . . At the operational level, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) suffered a terrible defeat. As NVA regiments emerged from jungle-covered enclaves and massed for attack, they exposed themselves to the firepower of U.S. aircraft and artillery. The NVA units temporarily seized many cities at the cost of extremely heavy casualties. However, Tet achieved the grand political ends North Vietnam sought. Tet was a strategic psychological attack launched in a presidential election year during a primary season featuring media-savvy “peace” candidates. “Peace” in this context must be italicized with determined irony; in the historical lens it requires an insistent blindness steeled by Stalinist mendacity to confuse the results of U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam (e.g., Cambodia’s genocide) with any honest interpretation of peace. Their “ultimate Iraqi Tet” would feature simultaneous terror strikes in every major Iraqi city. These simultaneous strikes would inflict hideous civilian casualties with the goal of discrediting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s and General David Petraeus’ assessments that Iraqi internal security has improved. The terrorists would reduce Iraqi government buildings to rubble. Striking the Green Zone would be the media coup de grace, intentionally echoing North Vietnam’s assault on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. Al Qaeda terrorists would also attack Shia shrines. Kidnapping or assassinating of senior Iraqi leaders would be another objective.

. . . the terrorists will attempt a series of terror spectaculars, and kill several hundred civilians in the process, because — in the quadrennial turmoil of an American presidential contest — sensational carnage that even momentarily seeds the perception of defeat is their only chance of victory.

I remember the last Tet.  Yeah, I know, I’m a geezer.  But this time I won’t be a helpless 6th-Grader.  This time I’m empowered.  This time I and my pards have the power to inoculate or to immunize individuals in advance of any propaganda blitz by any of the organized persuaders who seek to gain by carrying the terrorist’s water.

Conditioning. Conditioning is a nonspecific means of eliminating potential vulnerabilities in the domestic audience before they can be exploited. This technique is preemptive in nature. Conditioning is very similar to a preventative action measure.  This technique does not specifically address potential themes that the opponent may use in a propaganda program against the force, but seeks to remove or reduce potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

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10 Comments

Filed under Morale Operations, Old Media, PSYOP

10 responses to “The Terrorists’ Tet

  1. Hey C#4,

    “This technique does not specifically address potential themes that the opponent may use in a propaganda program against the force, but seeks to remove or reduce potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.”

    Yes we definitely have a need for a campaign to address these weaknesses. Such an effort must debunk the narratives of Vietnam that are always used to argue that we can’t win and any appearance of success is a sham. So it is good to see Bay anticipating this and trying to get out ahead of our adversary’s next move.

  2. The possibility that the enemy still has a last gasp effort left in him is the cause of all the “guarded” optimism and muted celebration of the successes achieved so far. The American people cannot be allowed to have any positive thoughts about the war. Iraq was no threat, had no WMD’s, sanctions were working, it was a war of choice, we invaded a sovereign nation to steal their oil, Bush is an idiot, Rumsfeld is an idiot, et cetera et cetera, ad nauseum

    YOU SAID WE WERE WINNING! The enemy you claim to have beaten just killed 200 innocent women and children. YOU LIED AND PEOPLE DIED!!!!

    Unenthusiastic, hesitant, unconvincing, caveated asterisked footnotes do not a victory make. By the time triumphalism has been made safe by the course of events, nobody will care.

  3. Most sources ignore the incredible kinetic loss that the Vietcong suffered and further have buried the peace treaty signed in 1973 with the NV. Of course given the massive exodus of American military elements and the congressional severance of funding this treaty was, two years later, worth nothing more than the paper it was writ upon that’s no surprise. The nightmares that followed need no mention, except that a main provocateur died peacefully under house arrest despite his massacre of some 2 million people.

    Suggested reading for either the pre-collegiates or undergraduates in chronological order: Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clauswitze, Hobbes.

    Read these fellows and understand that, generally, the most successful leaders in history have adhered to:
    a conflation of idealism with realism with a healthy dose of cynicism. Utopia never enters the mind of an effective leader. Great for bumper stickers and nothing more.

  4. “Unenthusiastic, hesitant, unconvincing, caveated asterisked footnotes do not a victory make. By the time triumphalism has been made safe by the course of events, nobody will care.”

    Exactly. This is why winning the “narrative war” is so important. The narrative of Iraq that wins will live on long past the time when our troops have been withdrawn, just as the left’s narrative of Vietnam lives today. These narratives are not just some academic exercise, they provide the intellectual context for policy decisions and the political will necessary to support those decisions over the course of decades. The success of the left’s Vietnam narrative results in us having a weak political will today which allows our adversaries to design strategies to attack that weakness with confidence. That is why we need to ensure that the left does not win the Iraq narrative war. And so we can win in Iraq, but if we lose the narrative war then “nobody will care” about the victory because it won’t be part of the narrative.

  5. From my blog:

    NEVER AGAIN!
    “You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media were definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields.” ~ Gen. Giap, NVA referring to the Tet Offensive, 1968

    Until a month and a half ago, I had never seen that statement and had never heard it from any of the folks I know who were in Vietnam. I had only heard people say that the media lost the Vietnam war for us. I am someone who fairly actively engages in conversations with vets — not as much as some, but definitely more than a lot of my peers. I would venture to say that probably 95% of US Citizens my age and older have never heard this. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops. If we do not stand guard and fight for the minds of our fellow citizens, the media will lose this one for us too. They are already trying.

  6. Are you sure Vo Nguyen Giap said that?

    Bui Tin is an old information operator.

  7. the irony thing is that if Bush had really lied, more people would have been expected to have died, therefore when less died people would hail Bush as being a miracle worker or something.

    So saying that people won’t die, and they die, means you lied and people died. Saying that people will die, but they didn’t, means that you saved the day.

    Human perception was never rational to begin with.

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  9. Are you sure Vo Nguyen Giap said that?

    http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Camp/7624/Generals/giap.htm

    But the Urban Legends Page says that it was not a quote — however, this was:

    The most relevant statement I could find that is actually attributable to General Giap was uttered in a 1989 interview with Morley Safer, as excerpted in The Vietnam War: An Encyclopedia of Quotations by Howard Langer (Greenwood Press, 2005, p. 318):

    We paid a high price [during the Ted offensive] but so did you [Americans]… not only in lives and materiel…. Do not forget the war was brought into the living rooms of the American people. … The most important result of the Ted offensive was it made you de-escalate the bombing, and it brought you to the negotiation table. It was, therefore, a victory….

    The war was fought on many fronts. At that time the most important one was American public opinion.

    Another interesting link

    So I guess I’d have to say I’m not positive he said it exactly, but it appears that he did express some things that were quite similar.

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