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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From Saigon to Beirut

During the period that Israel occupied southern Lebanon, many people compared that action to the American experience in Vietnam in the 60's and 70's. Writing at YNet, Sever Plocker explains how the US was perceived to have lost in Vietnam due to the Tet offensive and how it was portrayed in the media. He also explains that Israel cannot lose in Lebanon and how we can prevent last month's war from becoming our Tet offensive.
On July 12, 2006, Hizbullah began its "Tet Offensive" on the northern border. The group had been planning the attack for years, training and gaining strength. It has acquired modern weapons, created a communications network, and become, from its perspective, the best regular army for an offensive war against Israel and for ongoing fighting.

At the same time, Israel has started to lose the second Lebanon War, both in terms of local perception and Arab and international consciousness.

In order to ensure that July, 2006 does not become for Israel what January, 1968 was for the Americans, Israel must undergo immediate political change. Guilty or not, there is no choice but to replace the current government, and no choice but to establish a commission of inquiry.

Olmert and Peretz have lost the support of the public. They are seen as lost, with a mark of Cain emblazoned on their foreheads. Isolated military actions here and there will not get back Israel's credibility, power of deterrence, or standing. It will take a different government to achieve those things.

Hizbullah is not the Viecong. The United States does not share a border with Vietnam, and its military presence there was a mistake to begin with. America had the luxury to allow itself to be beaten in the Tet Offensive. We have no such luxury.
Read it all.


At 11:42 PM, Blogger Lichty said...

I think the author misses the mark on Tet and why the comparisons are not apt.

Tet was a military victory for the US and the ARVN who withstood the best the VC had to offer. Rather what Tet did is turned Walter Cronkite against the war reasoning that even with a stunning, yet bloody victory like Tet there was no end in sight to the war. It was Cronkite's on air lament which caused LBJ to say ("I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle america). In fact, the tide in the US began to shift away from support of LBJ's war effort and Nixon won in a landslide promising to end the war, which he did a few years later.

Unlike Tet, the Israeli public remanined united in the war's justness and its aims througout and most are disappointed and outraged that the loss of life has gone for naught. It was the Israeli leadership who two days after attacking Hizbollah, went to the US begging for a ceasefire.

Tet in America stands for the proposition that the public must support the war even if the military wins the battle.

Lebanon stands for the proposition that even when a country is behind a war, incompetent and cowardly leadership can still lose a war that is goinig well militarily.


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