Sometimes you feel like a “Nuts!”, sometimes you don’t

The Beholder and You

I hope you’re all preparing for the next Tet Offensive in Iraq. We’ve had about fifteen or twenty so far, and I’m expecting the next one will occur over the three weeks (or so) leading up to the Iraqi elections at the end of January.

And, as many have already pointed out, it was sixty years ago that the Germans launched their Ardennes counter-offensive, which history usually refers to as the Battle of the Bulge. (Link via Intel Dump.)

In 1944, the German army, portrayed by many to be on it’s last legs, struck unexpectedly and quite successfully, knocking a huge salient into our lines.

In 1968 something similar (big-picture thinking, here, folks…don’t comment or email me to point out that the VC didn’t use Tiger tanks or some such…) happened in Vietnam.

In both cases the Allies were surprised and knocked for a loop. In both cases our forces (and/or the forces of our allies) suffered severe casualties. In both cases if we had been more prepared, if we had had more troops in the right place at the right time, if we had equipped the troops involved more fully, if our intelligence had been better, maybe things would have been different.

But, again in both cases, at the conclusion of the battle the enemy forces were shattered and our armies firmly in control of what the enemy sought to take from us.

Yet one battle was a storied victory and the other a crushing defeat.

Every Tet Offensive so far in Iraq has ended in US victory, though some more storied than others. Why aren’t these spates of enemy activity called Ardennes Offensives?

Because it’s in the eye of the beholder.

No. Not you. You’re simply a viewer of a finished product.

The beholders whose eyes count are those that interpret events and pass them on to you for digestion. Dan Rather, CNN, and Murdoc Online are all beholders.

A few rebels among you insist on thinking for yourselves. Some of you agree with some of the beholders. Some of you don’t.

So when you hear about the next Tet Offensive, remember the previous Tet Offensives. The original wasn’t a loss because we were defeated on the field of battle. It was a loss because we were told by the beholders that we had been defeated. And we believed them.

And many of them are still trying to play that game. In fact, you can find message boards and blogs that very clearly express their deep-rooted HOPE that the Tet Offensive mentality catches on. And you don’t have to look very hard to find them.

In late December of 1944, if CNN and their ilk had had correspondents at the front or in surrounded Bastogne (sort of an accidental Khe Sahn), things would have looked grim, indeed. Do you think that Americans might have heard about the lack of cold-weather clothing or winter camouflage? Do you think that maybe Americans would have heard about our airpower advantage neutralized by something as mundane as foul weather? Do you think Americans would have heard all about the poor Belgian citizens who had it hard enough even before the clashing armies decided to battle in their fields and cities? Valid points, to be sure.

But the war was proceeding toward victory. Certainly full of blood and gore and misery and tragedy, as wars are wont to produce such things, but proceeding toward victory nonetheless.

If and when someone screams that the latest Tet Offensive has begun, remind them that maybe, just maybe, it’s the latest Ardennes Offensive instead.


  1. I think if you go back and look at the history, the ardennes campaign did generate a lot of controversey for particularly the reasons you described. But I agree there is a tendency in the press to go the extreme when something bad happens. In all wars, it’s a question of how much blood you’re willing to spill to achieve your objective. Optimally, you should make that calculation by risking the loss of your own blood rather than one of your countrymen’s, but with a professional military that’s not a problem. To the extent that we can keep getting enough soldiers to volunteer, I don’t mind taking the chance that we end up with our own version of the west bank.

  2. Well, yes, the situation is much more like Tet, than it is like the ardennes offensive in some ways. In both Vietnam and Iraq we face a guerrilla enemy. But in many other ways this is much more like the ardennes. For instance, in WWII we were (mentally speaking) not really a conscripted military. Yes, there was a draft, but not many people ran away from it. The degree of proffessionalism was not what we have today in our ‘volunteer’ military, but they were as well trained as they could be in the short time available. Hey, guess what, that’s a good point! We went to war with ‘the Army we have’ in 1941 too. Those guys were so much worse off than we are right now, that I’m not sure we can even comprehend how good we’ve got it. Our left wing will lose this war for us, if anybody can. They hate America, because they don’t respect the ‘moral values’ that create the desire for freedom. They’ll never understand that some things have to be fought for, and there’s a price to be paid for the rights we enjoy.

  3. We went to war with ‘the Army we have’ in 1941 because we had no choice. We were attacked by Japan and Germany > We had time to prepare for Iraq.What price have you paid??

  4. Our left wing will lose this war for us, if anybody can. They hate America, because they don’t respect the ‘moral values’ that create the desire for freedom Is this the same left wing of democracts under the leadership of that Arch-Liberal Elitist FDR that got us involved in WWII. Did not the conservative Republicans oppose our involement in europe to save a bunch of commies and jews

  5. Our left wing will lose this war for us, if anybody can. They hate America, because they don’t respect the ‘moral values’ that create the desire for freedom Yes! they should have moral values like Bill’Phone Sex’ O reilly, Rush ‘Painkiller and triple divorce’ LImbaugh. Bill ‘Vegas’ Bennenet. They should respect the morals of marrige like Newt Gringrich, Rudy Guilani, Bernis Kerik and Dr. Laura

  6. Torcik: I’ve been serving my country for 10 years, and I’m on the volunteer list, so don’t question what I’m willing to give up. As to the moral values, I’ve never said that these people were in the right. Politically conservative, yes, but right, no. I don’t believe that a divorce is right. I don’t believe that being addicted to pain killers is right. Have you ever heard me say ‘Rush for president’? I’m talking about the values I hold true. I don’t believe that gay marriage, abortion, or legalizing drugs is good for this country. I don’t believe that a law-abiding citizen should be told that he/she can’t own a handgun, or a rifle. I don’t believe that someone should be able to sue over trivial disagreements for an exorbitant sum of money. I don’t believe that we should have to ask a country for permission before we eliminate a threat to our national security. I do believe in my rights, and in yours. I believe you should be able to print, say, or view what you want as long as it’s not seditious, or indecent. I believe that we enjoy these rights because someone at sometime was willing to give their life for them. I believe that those patriots ghosts have the right to expect us to protect those rights for the next generation of Americans.

  7. It is amusing to image an asshole like Conkite standing in Bastogne and saying the war was ‘un-winnable.’ It’s also amusing to imagine him getting his head blown off by the next GI he interviewed. Maybe I’m just easily amused.