The Legacy of Walter Cronkite
"The one great similarity between Vietnam and Iraq is that our enemies, despairing of victory on the battlefield, sought to win with a propaganda campaign.
In Vietnam, this strategy succeeded. If it fails in Iraq, it will be chiefly because of the emergence of the new media.
The turning point in Vietnam was the Tet Offensive of February, 1968. It was a crushing defeat for the Viet Cong.
"Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise," said North Vietnamese Army Col. Bui Tin in a 1995 interview. "Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out. It took until 1971 to re-establish our presence."
"The Tet Offensive proved catastrophic to our plans," said Truong Nhu Tang, minister of justice in the Viet Cong's provisional government, in a 1982 interview. "Our losses were so immense we were unable to replace them with new recruits."
The news media reported this overwhelming American victory as a catastrophic defeat.
"Donning helmet, Mr. Cronkite declared the war lost," recounted UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave. "It was this now famous television news piece that persuaded President Lyndon Johnson...not to run for re-election."
Shaken by Tet, he planned to seek terms for a conditional surrender, the North Vietnamese commander, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, wrote in his memoirs. But our news media's complete misrepresentation of what had actually happened "convinced him America's resolve was weakening and complete victory was within Hanoi's grasp," Mr. de Borchgrave said."1
Facts such as these cause one to remember the wisdom of the ancients. The Latin root for our present word 'sinister' means 'on the left'.
Still grits my gall bladder.