September 18, 2004


Taliban may be planning Tet-style election attack (GEORGE GEDDA, September 18, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Afghan forces backed by 9,000 NATO troops are poised to provide security as national elections approach, but a spectacular offensive by anti-government rebels cannot be ruled out, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan said Friday.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said al-Qaida, the Taliban and allied forces are poised to try to derail the Oct. 9 presidential elections and have been cooperating with each other.

''I expect that as we go toward the election and on election day, they will try to disrupt,'' he said. ''The area where they are going to be most active is along the border with Pakistan.''

Khalilzad, who is here for consultations, said they also may carry out ''spectacular attacks'' similar to the Tet Offensive launched by North Vietnam in early 1968 against American forces.

The last gasp Tet Offensive ended the Viet Cong as an effective guerilla force and resulted in their having to be supplanted entirely by North Vietnamese regulars. Once we wax the last few Taliban who's left to replace them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2004 1:39 PM

Ah, but remember that Tet was a strategic victory for the bad guys, because the U.S. media largely considered it as a setback for us. Afterwards, I believe public opinion shifted decisively against the war. Even if every bad guy in Afghanistan is killed on October 9th, they might create enough havoc for every lefty (and most of the media) in America to scream that Bush has lost the war, and thus influence our election. Are the Taliban sophisticated enough to be planning for that?

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 18, 2004 1:54 PM


No, we left Vietnam with the South still in control and had we just provided the promised air support they might still be. It was congressional Democrats--led by Kerry mentor Ted Kennedy--who finally cut and ran in '75.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2004 2:02 PM

Is it just me, or does the article almost seem to be hoping this happens?

Posted by: brian at September 18, 2004 2:37 PM

Gunga Dan is already headed to the scene in all likelihood.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2004 2:44 PM

"Who's left to replace them?" is an excellent question, and I hope that the pundits on the left are wrong in continuing to assert that the war on terror isn't excellent recruitment material. But even if that is so, what's the alternative? Cut and run?

Posted by: John Ziemba at September 18, 2004 7:24 PM

Sit and bleed?

Tet was a strategic victory for the communists because it exposed the lack of support for any alternative government. Not just the kleptocracy we were propping up, but any other form of government in S. Vietnam.

Orrin, who always recommends taking the long view, seems incapable of understanding that the North Vietnamese Communists were equally capable of taking the long view.

After Tet, they knew they could not lose. They patiently routed the U.S. from Southeast Asia, simultaneously positioned themselves to dominate Cambodia, and waited for the inevitable.

The idea that the South Vietnamese, who could not defend themselves by themselves plus our army of 500,000, could do so by themselves with a few airplanes is fantasy

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 18, 2004 8:59 PM

Kill 50 warlords the week before the election, and nothing will happen. Kill Heykmatyr NOW.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 18, 2004 10:34 PM

Mr. Eager;

We were out of Vietnam by the time of the final invasion, so it wasn't the USA sitting and bleeding. Every coherent military analysis I've read indicates that, had the South Vietnamese forces been supplied and given air support, the invasion would have failed.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 18, 2004 11:21 PM

Not the point.

The point was the regime had no legitimacy after Tet. It sure didn't do anything between 1972 and 1975 to gain legitimacy.

If a few planes would have made a difference, then the North would have waited awhile until it wouldn't.

They'd won at Tet. After that, it was just a matter of timing in picking up their winnings.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 19, 2004 2:05 AM

The regime was as legitimate as any in the region, just unequal to fighting the North, the Soviets, etc., by themselves. It fell to external aggression, not internal dissent.

Posted by: oj at September 19, 2004 8:13 AM

The only victory the Communists won at Tet was through the anti-war movement. Harry is right that Tet caused the North to win the war, although not for the reason he specifically stated.

The question for Bush is if an Al Qaeda Tet does happen, and we do win another military victory, how does he prevent it from turning into a debacle given popular opinions and the press. Simply hope FOX NEWS does its job? A risky strategy. I wish he did more in keeping morale up. He could learn a lot from FDR in explaining the war, preparing the American people for setbacks, and always explaining how each front helps the entire war effort.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 20, 2004 3:53 AM

>The last gasp Tet Offensive ended the Viet Cong
>as an effective guerilla force and resulted in
>their having to be supplanted entirely by North
>Vietnamese regulars.

And enabled their fifth columns (the American media and youth counterculture) to win the war for them.

Posted by: Ken at September 20, 2004 1:12 PM

'As legitimate as any' means not legitimate at all.

If there were any legitimate anti-Hanoi movement, it would still be fighting in the jungles and the rice paddies.

If the North Vietnamese could do it for a generation, why not their opponents?

Because they had no opponents. Not any significant number, anyway

You don't have to know -- or care -- which ideology was on which side. All you have to know is that one side fought and one didn't.

The one that fought was not deterred from fighting by the fact that the greatest military power in the world was against it.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 21, 2004 2:54 AM

I've read that North Vietnam suffered losses that, per capita, would have been the equivalent of 10 million Americans killed.

That's dedication.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 21, 2004 4:37 AM


They came here. They were too strong a people to submit like Europeans to Communist rule.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2004 7:10 AM