January 30, 2005, when the Iraqi elections are scheduled to take place, is the 37th anniversary of the Tet offensive -- a major attack launched by the North Vietnamese against American and South Vietnamese forces in 1968, which many observers consider the beginning of the end of the war in Vietnam. Certainly it marked the point at which Americans lost confidence in official pronouncements that the war in Vietnam was winnable.
In January 1968, Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles Krohn (now retired) was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, which had been ordered to relieve a group of Marines who were surrounded by enemy forces in Hue, Vietnam's ancient capital. "It was a valiant but futile effort, and the battalion casualty rate was more than 60 percent," Krohn wrote recently in the Washington Post. Wondering if the Iraqi insurgents are students of history, Krohn continued, "Are they aware that protracted war goes against the grain of the American experience? Do they understand that the president's encouraging words are effective, but only up to a point, given battlefield reversals and disappointment?"
Updated February 10, 2007
On Thursday May 29, 2003 Bush told Polish television. "We found the weapons of mass destruction.... We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." Bush's remark referred to two laboratories housed in trailers that had been initially identified by the CIA as "probably designed to product biological weapons." This week an official British investigation concluded that the units were not mobile germ warfare labs, but rather installations for filling artillery balloons with hydrogen, as Iraqis had stated. Questions about the administration's use of claims about Iraqi WMDs to justify the war made headlines in the mainstream media in early May after Defense Department Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair magazine that "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason."