Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 20-Oct-06
President Bush's reference to Vietnam War "Tet Offensive" has journalists in a tizzy

Web Log - October, 2006

President Bush's reference to Vietnam War "Tet Offensive" has journalists in a tizzy

Airhead journalists have completely missed the point, and the real danger.

President Bush
President Bush

Journalists were excited all day saying that President Bush "admitted" that the current rise in violence in Iraq may be similar the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War.

The Independent, for example, said in what was supposed to be a news story, "The allusion to the Tet Offensive was a real departure for Mr Bush, who hitherto refused to accept any similarities between Iraq and the war in Vietnam, which lasted eight years and claimed more than 55,000 American lives."

I feel pretty confident that the story author, Rupert Cornwell, has no idea what the Tet Offensive was. This reflects the general level of ignorance exhibited by journalists, something I've commented on frequently, especially with respect to economics and global finance, and the willingness of most reporters today to say the stupidest things they can to support their political beliefs.

Here's what President Bush actually said in the ABC News interview, when asked whether he agreed with the opinion that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago. "He could be right. There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election." When asked what his "gut" tells him he said, "George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave. And the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here's how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw." Bush added that there wouldn't be a withdrawal before the end of his Presidency.

In other words, Bush was criticizing those who are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, not because America was losing, but because al-Qaeda is "trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave." He was indirectly criticizing the press for supporting al-Qaeda. In other words, he wasn't saying "We're losing in Iraq like we did in Vietnam"; he was saying, "We're not losing in Iraq, and we're not going to just leave like we did in Vietnam."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both pro-Bush and anti-Bush pundits are completely misreading the situation, and the significance of the Tet Offensive. So let's review.

Related Articles

Iraqi 'Civil War'
Brookings Institution does a full reversal on Iraq war: As Americans withdraw from cities, Brookings admits there's no civil war.... (1-Jul-2009)
Stock markets in Iraq and Iran are surging.: Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says "it is the end of capitalism."... (17-Oct-2008)
On "60 Minutes," Bob Woodward makes ridiculous claims about Iraq.: He says the surge succeeded because of some magic new military technique.... (7-Sep-2008)
Iraq's Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr turns from arms to "culture": This follows several Sunni "Tribal Awakenings" to expel al-Qaeda.... (10-Aug-2008)
Obama continues to damage his candidacy with his Iraq policy.: Obama is hurting himself by bobbing and weaving on the success of the "surge."... (27-Jul-2008)
The new Iraqi "civil war" fizzles out, as expected: Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a cease-fire on Sunday,... (1-Apr-08)
The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.: On the first anniversary of the successful "surge" strategy,... (17-Feb-08)
Casualties are down sharply in Iraq.: This issue has been a spectacular validation of Generational Dynamics theory.... (31-Oct-07)
Washington Post says that al-Qaeda in Iraq is "crippled": Meanwhile, Iraqi citizens' political opposition to America is growing.... (16-Oct-07)
Antiwar Democrats are freaking out over Bush's Vietnam - Iraq war comparison.: The same people who have been comparing Iraq to Vietnam for years... (24-Aug-07)
Iraq: Suicide bombers interrupt celebrations in Baghdad over soccer win: Iraq's stunning 4-3 soccer victory over South Korea in the Asia Cup semi-final... (26-Jul-07)
The al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq, is bombed again: Last year's bombing triggered months of vicious sectarian violence in Baghdad,... (14-Jun-07)
Congress votes to fund Iraq war without deadlines: The result shows conflicting anxieties during America's Crisis era.... (24-May-07)
Senator Joe Biden wants to move troops from Iraq to Darfur civil war: Saying on Meet the Press that we should remove troops from Iraqi "civil war,"... (29-Apr-07)
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq: In an interview that appeared on CNN on Sunday,... (24-Apr-07)
BBC kills an Iraqi war story because it's "too positive": But a drama showing British troops brutalizing civilians is perfectly fine.... (11-Apr-07)
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites protest against American "occupiers": In what appeared to be a grand, party-like atmosphere,... (10-Apr-07)
Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq : This is exactly the kind of thing that generational theory predicts. (1-Apr-2007)
New optimistic poll of Iraqi people barely mentioned on Sunday TV news shows: And Bob Shieffer on CBS's "Face the Nation" asked really dumb questions of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.... (19-Mar-07)
Robert Gates on "civil war" in Iraq.: Following the release of the Iraq National Intelligence Estimate on Friday,... (2-Feb-07)
News as theatre: NBC announces it will call Iraq war a "civil war": On Monday morning on the "Today Show,"... (29-Nov-06)
President Bush's reference to Vietnam War "Tet Offensive" has journalists in a tizzy: Airhead journalists have completely missed the point, and the real danger.... (20-Oct-06)
Learning-disabled journalists and politicians continue to predict Iraq civil war: Occasionally journalists take a break from their heavy-breathing over Congressional pages,... (8-Oct-06)
General John Abizaid says there'll be no troop cutbacks in Iraq: This is hardly a surprise to me, though not for the reasons most people give.... (19-Sep-06)
Debate over civil war in Iraq rages over semantics: An actual crisis civil war in Iraq is impossible, but it's now embroiled in the November elections,... (23-Aug-06)
Washington becomes hysterical again over an Iraqi 'civil war' : A civil war in Iraq is impossible, as I've said many times, because only one generation has passed since the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Here's some additional historical information. (7-Aug-2006)
Israel's war against Hizbollah and Lebanon forces Muslims to choose sides : The war is part of a larger Shi'ite-Sunni struggle, and a stopgap ceasefire will create a worsening environment leading to a much more chaotic situation within a few months (25-Jul-2006)
Journalists have a 'civil war in Iraq' orgy over the weekend: It's hard to remember when news shows had so much sheer non-stop nonsense... (21-Mar-06)
Fear of Iraqi civil war nears hysteria: But there is NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER of a civil war.... (24-Feb-06)
Bombing of 1200 year old Shi'ite mosque inflames Iraq to the verge of massive civil war rhetoric: Shi'ites conducted over 90 revenge attacks on Sunni shrines on Wednesday,... (23-Feb-06)
Vitriolic Iraq war politics erupts in Washington: But the basics of the Iraq war haven't changed a bit.... (21-Nov-05)
Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite clerics call for restraint: Analysts, pundits and journalists are still predicting civil war, and they're still getting it wrong.... (23-May-05)
Brent Scowcroft predicts an "incipient civil war" for Iraq: Pundits are returning to wishful thinking as the January 30 election approaches... (09-Jan-05)
Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia fighters turn in their weapons: The war in Iraq took a significant turn this week when the Shi'ite militias agreed to disarm,... (13-Oct-04)
The press is talking about another "uprising" in Iraq. Yawn.: Nothing shows more how clueless the press is about what's going on in Iraq than this constant talk about civil war and uprisings.... (7-Aug-04)
Iraq Today vs 1960s America (Revised): They have much in common: Bombings, assassinations, student demonstrations, violent riots, calls for insurrection and civil war and harsh rhetoric. That's much more than a coincidence. (8-May-2004)
What Iraqi Civil War?: Early in 2003, I predicted that there would be no popular uprising against the Americans, and that there would be no civil war. After the overthrow of Saddam, I said that an Iraqi civil war was impossible. Despite the constant near-hysteria of the politicians, journalists and high-priced analysts, I've been right so far. Here's why. (09-Apr-04)
Terrorist suicide bombings in Iraq may backfire against terrorists: During an awakening period, terrorist acts cause masses of people to shrink from more violence. (19-Aug-03)

The Tet Offensive occurred in January 1968, while Lyndon Johnson was President. The Vietnam War really was a civil war (unlike the current war in Iraq), fought along historical fault lines separating indigenous peoples in South and North Vietnam, respectively.

South Vietnam had historically aligned with the West, thanks to a century of French occupation and control. North Vietnam was aligned with Communist China. Thanks to the Truman Doctrine, when President John Kennedy took office in 1960, he decided that Communism had to be stopped at the South Vietnamese border. He began increasing American involvement during his term. After he was assassinated, President Johnson continued increasing American forces.

America at that time was in a generational Awakening era, and the anti-war movement was fierce, especially among college students. Anti-war riots and demonstrations occurred on campuses around the country on almost a weekly basis, and in the summer of 1967, thousands of anti-war students converged in San Francisco to celebrate the Summer of Love.

In this climate, President Johnson's administration was constantly on the political defensive, but promises of "light at the end of the tunnel" seemed to keep most voters in line.

Then the North Vietnamese made an explosive military move during the January 1968 Tet holiday. (Tet is the Vietnamese new year.) They attacked American and South Vietnamese forces in coordinated attacks in dozens of cities simultaneously. They caught the US forces by surprise.

Nonetheless, the US forces repelled the attacks. The Tet Offensive was a total military disaster for the North Vietnamese.

But it was total political victory for the North Vietnamese. The media called it a military victory for the North Vietnamese, which it wasn't. CBS newsman Walter Cronkite said that the U.S. was "mired in a stalemate" and called for a negotiated end to the conflict.

Cronkite's report was especially a political disaster for President Johnson. 1968 was an election year, and his poll results started falling dramatically. In March 1968, a distraught President Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election.

This is the moment that today's journalists wish to re-create. That's why they want to call the Iraq war a civil war (so it would be like Vietnam). That's why they use words like "quagmire" and "stalemate," hoping to turn the American public against the war. That's why journalists are so overwhelmingly opposed to Bush, hoping to repeat their 1968 victory.

But things are very different today. As I've been saying for years, there's no anti-war movement in America today. There are no riots and demonstrations on college campuses. No Democrats, except those farthest on the left, are calling for a withdrawal or for negotiation with al-Qaeda. In fact, nobody is offering any realistic proposal for ending the war in Iraq.

OK, so political events can't be predicted because they're chaotic events (in the sense of Chaos Theory), but it's very unlikely that the current rising violence in Iraq will have anything remotely like the same effect that the Tet Offensive. We're in a generational crisis era now, not an awakening era, so the rules are completely changed. This means that the dreams and fantasies of the journalists who are hoping to bring about this result are going to have their dreams crushed.

So let's leave politics aside, and do a Generational Dynamics analysis of the war itself. What does the current increase in violence mean to the war?

To explain this, we're going to compare the Iraq war to two other wars: the Vietnam war, of course, and also the recent war between Israel and Lebanon.

Let's start with the Lebanon war.

Recall that when I wrote about the winners and losers of the Lebanese war, I contrasted the war styles of the two parties.

Israel fought in a typical crisis era "hot" war style, furiously bombing infrastructure, calling up new reserves every day, confronting Hizbollah terrorists on their own soil, and feeling very anxious about the U.N. peace deal after the war.

If Hizbollah had fought in a "hot" style, they would have crossed the border into Israel and killed Israelis in their own homes.

Instead, Hizbollah fought the war in a "cool," methodical non-crisis war style. They launched missiles from their home soil, retreating to their homes or to bunkers as needed. They methodically goaded Israeli into supplanting their air-only war with a ground war, requiring thousands of Israeli soldiers to fight on Lebanese soil. The goaded the Israelis into destroying Lebanese infrastructure, and killing Lebanese civilians, including women and children.

The reasons for these differences in style are that Israel is in a generational crisis era, while Lebanon (along with Hizbollah) is in a generational awakening era. This difference between "hot" and "cool" styles is typical of countries in these two different eras.

Now let's turn to the Vietnam war and the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive was, to say the least, a "hot" style. It was an enormously risky attack, and, in fact, it was a military disaster. In fact, the Vietnamese were in a generational crisis era at their time, their last crisis war having been fought against the French in the 1890s.

Militarily, North Vietnam should have lost the war after the Tet Offensive, but they won because America, in an awakening era, defeated itself politically.

OK, now let's return to the Iraq war. The increase in violence by a "Tet Offensive" style of fighting, if that's really true, is obviously extremely aggressively -- definitely a "hot" war style.

But Iraq is in a generational awakening era. So how could it be a "hot" war style?

I won't explain again what I've explained many, many times, why a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is impossible. A civil war must be an extremely energetic, genocidal effort, such as is going on in Darfur at the present time, and that's impossible in an awakening era. There's a lot of violence going on in Iraq, but not the genocidal violence going on in Darfar.

This is how I can be so sure that the source of any really genocidal violence is from outside Iraq. The most murderous and violent of the belligerents, the suicide bombers, are known to be 95-100% foreigners, from Saudi Arabia or Jordan mostly. If there were a civil war going on, why would they need outsiders to conduct suicide bombings?

Some percentage of the Sunnis and Shiites are Iraqi people, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's not possible that these people could be generating this kind of violence.

If, as the gleeful journalists claim, the current surge in violence is like the Tet Offensive, then it means that the regional war is beginning to take hold.

This is what I wrote in August 2003, as the terrorist bombings began:

"The really dangerous scenario is that large numbers of Palestinian and "mujahadeen" terrorists will be motivated by identity group relationships to move into Iraq as a theatre of war against the Americans. That isn't happening now, but it's one of several possible scenarios that may unfold in the Mideast region during the next few months and years."

If the violence is increasing as it did with the Tet Offensive, then from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is what it must mean. Iraq is increasingly becoming a theatre of war.

The analysis of what's going on in Iraq has been really difficult, and I've been struggling with it and trying to refine it as time has gone on. What makes it difficult is that there are so many things going on at the same thing, and the news reports treat them all equally. If there were a news report of a Sunni village and a Shiite village massacring each other, that would be a genocidal style of war, but we never hear anything like that. What we hear about are bombings that may kill people, but are not the close combat genocidal violence that occurs in crisis wars. The militia battles that occur in Iraq do not appear to be massacres that would indicate a crisis war; instead, they appear to be brief actions in support of political objects, and that would indicate a non-crisis war battle.

The real war will be in the countries that are in or entering generation crisis eras -- Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others. Iraqis will not want any part of the war, having just survived the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, but Iraq will increasingly be a theatre of war, as the "clash of civilizations" world war approaches.

I started out this essay by criticizing journalist Rupert Cornwell for saying stupid things. Let me finish up by commenting on some of the other pundits' statements I've heard and read today:

(20-Oct-06) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.