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02/05/2007

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Mojo

That escalation, a Tet Offensive in miniature, may already be happening.
I don't think Tet itself fits your description. Tet wasn't some giant publicity stunt intended to "send a message" to the US public. It was a considered (although unsuccessful) attempt to move the insurgency to a new phase and the only public they were focused on influencing was the South Vietnamese.
And the only way what's going on today in Baghdad is similar to Tet is that insurgent operations in Iraq are, like Tet, not aimed primarily at US public opinion. Rather, they're aimed at Shiite opinion in Baghdad. If they can convince Shiites that they need to continue operations by their militias for self defense, they accomplish several goals. First, they keep the Shiite blocks split between pro-government and pro-Sadr. Second, those militias will inevitably come into conflict with coalition forces. Third, they limit the government and coalition forces available to directly combat Sunni armed groups by forcing them to also control the Shiite groups. And, finally, they increase their support among Sunnis since they then become the "defenders" against operations by the Shiite militias.

Kingdaddy

Mojo, you're right. The North Vietnamese did a gteat deal of "Tet revisionism" after the attempt to ignite a mass uprising failed. While the Tet Offensive didn't have the intended effect, political upheaval in South Vietnam, it was the last straw for the American political electorate.

So, "Tet" here refers to the possibility that insurgent attacks are, to some extent, aimed at US public opinion. You make an excellent and important observation about the point of the insurgent attacks within Iraq politics (keep the Sunnis mobilized against the Shi'ites; widen the divide between Shi'ites who are willing to give the Iraqi government a chance, and those who won't). Heck, we might as well add, "Make the less ruthless insurgent groups look as though they're sitting on their hands," to the list of possible rationales behind these attacks. I'd be amazed, however, if the Bush Administration, in announcing what sounds like a "last, best hope" strategy, didn't make some insurgent groups think, "Gee, with a little extra effort, we might get rid of the Americans once and for all."

MJP

An unfortunate side effect of the "surge" and increasing involvment in the campaign in Iraq is a drawback of logistical support to US forces still fighting a war in Afghanistan. Most of this is seen in reduced budgets for financing bases and civil projects like bridges, roads, and schools. The greatest impact on US troops is a noticeable decrease in air support, both jet and helicopter. Small units are also spread out thinly over large areas. Overall, the Iraq campaign has caused the continuing war in Afghanistan to be placed on a back burner, therefore drawing it out longer than necessary. That is my observation of things from a first hand viewpoint and not a topic that I have typically seen discussed in the same venues as the war in Iraq.

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